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The Arab Winter of Rage

Protests Fuel Muslim Critique of Obama's Foreign Policy

September 24th 2012

Libya protesters

In 2009, just five months into his presidency, Barack Obama gave a speech in Cairo to signal what he hoped would be a fresh start with the Muslim world.

"I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world -- one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition," Obama said. "Instead, they overlap and share common principles – principles of justice, and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.” After almost a decade of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Obama was seeking to turn the page on years of mutual distrust and suspicion. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Iran's Strategy for the American Presidential Election

September 24th 2012

Iranian Women

Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have again hit a wall, but the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appears unconcerned. Indeed, Khamenei seems convinced that neither the United States nor Israel will attack its nuclear facilities -- at least not before the US presidential election in November. Ironically, while Khamenei is no fan of democracy, he relies on the fact that his principal enemies are bound by democratic constraints. Khamenei controls Iran's nuclear program and its foreign policy, but the US and Israel must work to reach consensus not only within their respective political systems, but also with each other.

Iran's leaders, who closely follow Israeli political debates, believe that Israel would not launch an assault on their nuclear facilities without America's full cooperation, because unilateral action would jeopardize Israel's relations with its most important strategic ally. Given that an Israeli offensive would need to be coordinated with the US, while an American assault would not require Israeli military support, Iran would consider both to be American attacks. Read more ..

Campus Hate

California Students Respond to Anti-Israel Resolution

September 23rd 2012

Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine

After being caught off guard by a resolution condemning a measure intended to defend their state’s campus communities against anti-Semitism, pro-Israel students at the University of California-Berkeley have responded by highlighting what they call the resolution’s undemocratic nature.

The 12-member University of California Student Association (UCSA) on Sept. 15 registered two abstentions and 10 votes in condemnation of HR35—a unanimously passed State Assembly resolution urging California schools to squelch nascent anti-Semitism and crack down on anti-Israel demonstrations. HR35 also said Israel should not be called a “racist” state.

The UCSA, however, said HR 35 “is written to unfairly and falsely smear as ‘anti-Semites’ those who do human rights advocacy focusing on Israel’s illegal occupation, alleging that the UC faculty and staff involved in such work are motivated by anti-Semitism rather than by the political ideals of equality and respect for universal human rights they affirm, ideals UCSA and most California students share.” UCSA also called for the University of California Board of Regents to divest from companies doing business with Israel due to their alleged human rights violations. Ariel Fridman, vice president of UC Berkeley’s Tikvah Students for Israel and an Emerson Fellow for pro-Israel advocacy and education group StandWithUs, told JNS.org that Jewish students learned of the UCSA resolution a mere half-hour before Rosh Hashanah and were “completely blindsided” by it. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Senate Republicans Demand Obama's Answer to Disaster in Libya

September 23rd 2012

Ambassador J Christopher Stevens
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, deceased.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday that President Obama needs to set the record straight on what happened in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the attack on the consulate was a pre-planned, terrorist action. Rogers said Obama can’t worry about any political damage from the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

“The president needs to go on TV and set this right. It can’t be about the election. It has to be about an American ambassador who was killed,” Rogers said. “He needs to be out front and leading on this issue. He shouldn’t wait until after November.” Read more ..

The Archaeological Edge

Crews Uncover Massive Roman Mosaic in Southern Turkey

September 23rd 2012

Roman mosaic in Turkey
Credit: UNL

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln archeological team has uncovered a massive Roman mosaic in southern Turkey—a meticulously crafted, 1,600-square-foot work of decorative handiwork built during the region’s imperial zenith. It’s believed to be the largest mosaic of its type in the region and demonstrates the surprising reach and cultural influence of the Roman Empire in the area during the third and fourth centuries A.D., said Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history at UNL and the director of the excavation.

“Its size signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the empire were very strong in this far-flung area,” Hoff said. “We were surprised to have found a mosaic of such size and of such caliber in this region—it’s an area that had usually been off the radar screens of most ancient historians and archeologists, and suddenly this mosaic comes into view and causes us to change our focus about what we think (the region) was like in antiquity.”

Since 2005, Hoff’s team has been excavating the remains of the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum on the southern Turkish coast. Antiochus of Commagene, a client-king of Rome, founded the city in the middle of the first century.

“This region is not well understood in terms of history and archeology,” Hoff said. “It’s not a place in which archaeologists have spent a lot of time, so everything we find adds more evidence to our understanding of this area of the Roman Empire.” He continued, “We’re beginning to understand now that it was more Romanized, more in line than the rest of the Roman world than was suspected before. (The nature of the mosaic) hammers home how Roman this city truly is.” Read more ..

Broken Labor

Michigan’s Leg Up for Long-term Unemployed

September 23rd 2012

Emplyment Application

One of the more serious and lasting consequences of the Great Recession and its aftermath has been the sharp rise in the number of long-term unemployed.  Nearly 45  percent of the unemployed –or more than five million people — have now been out of work for six months or more.  That is up from less than 20 percent in 2007. Persistent joblessness atrophies skills and discourages risk adverse employers who are unlikely to take a chance on someone out of work for so long.  Few federal programs provide help for the long-term unemployed, though the recent growth in social security disability insurance may be a response to persistent joblessness.

Some interesting initiatives are under way at state and local levels, however. In March 2012, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced Community Ventures (CV), a program aimed at encouraging employers to hire and retain the long term unemployed.  The program is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which also markets the state to expanding companies, talented workers, and tourists. Read more ..

Islam on Edge

Actress Shattered by Appearance in 'The Innocence of Muslims'

September 22nd 2012

Anna Gurji
Georgian actress Anna Gurji

Aspiring actress Anna Giorgobiani finally made the giant leap to Hollywood from her native Tbilisi. Now, with her excitement over landing a role in an "indie feature film" turned to disgust, the 21-year-old Georgian finds herself at the center of fundamentalist Muslim outrage that has sparked protests around the world and left more than a dozen people dead.

Cast members say the amateurish "Innocence of Muslims" was heavily dubbed and edited without their knowledge to mock Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

It also appears to feature Anna Gurji (as Anna Giorgobiani is known in the business) chasing a man -- who is either "George" or "Muhammad," depending on your perspective -- around a tent with a shoe (at the 13-minute mark in the film's trailer on YouTube).

On September 17, English writer and comic-book artist Neil Gaiman published "A Letter from a Scared Actress," which Gurji is said to have sent him a few days ago. Read more ..

The Urban Edge

Counteracting Sewer Stink

September 22nd 2012

Water Supply

The rotten egg gas leaking from sewer pipes and costing billions of dollars worldwide in odour control may soon be far less of a problem thanks to new research discussed at the 2012 International Water Association (IWA) conference this week. Trials with a magic mix of chemicals, called Cloevis, on sewers in the Gold Coast region in Australia stopped 99 per cent of the rotten egg gas or hydrogen sulphide emitted from these pipes.

Lead researcher, Professor Zhiguo Yuan from the University of Queensland, told IWA delegates that one week after dosing for a few hours, in most cases the gas level increased to less than one fifth of its emissions prior to the treatment, and this has been repeatedly observed over a period of five months. "We are currently looking to commercialise Cloevis and are doing a further four trials of the mix in the US and Canada," Professor Yuan says. "Our partners over there are very excited by Cloevis' potential". Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Israeli Defense Minister Barak Made Secret Trip to Chicago to Meet Emanuel

September 21st 2012

Netanyahu and Obama
Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is currently visiting the U.S., made a special, and secret trip to Chicago recently, to meet with the city’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in an attempt to diffuse tensions between Israel and the United States, which have risen in recent weeks due to different stances on dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.

According to a report in the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, it’s not clear whether Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was aware of the meeting before it took place.

Before becoming the Mayor of Chicago, Emanuel was President Obama’s Chief of Staff and is still considered to be close to the president. A spokesperson for Barak could not immediately be reached for comment. The report from Yedioth cites Israeli officials who “postulate” that Barak is trying to “present himself as the sensible counterweight to Netanyahu in order to bolster his own ties with the White House at the expense of the prime minister’s relations with President Barack Obama.” Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Republicans Not Buying Obama's Narrative of Embassy Attack in Libya

September 21st 2012

Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Republican lawmakers left a closed-door briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials on Thursday still unconvinced by the administration's assessment that last week's attack that killed four Americans in Libya wasn't a premeditated act of terrorism.

“They're trying to cover their behinds,” Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) told The Hill upon leaving the House briefing with Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Asked if they were successful, he said: “No.”
On the Senate side, things were no different according to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) “That is the most useless worthless briefing I have attended in a long time,” shortly after the administration officials made their case to the upper chamber.

“I really think they hurt themselves tremendously from the standpoint of trying to build trust," he told reporters. “It, if anything, built far greater distrust in what’s happening than in answering questions. It was pretty unbelievable.” For his part, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the information provided to lawmakers on Thursday was nothing new and that lack of information has become a trend with the White House. Read more ..

Broken Healthcare

Complex Healthcare Billing Complexity Spawns Great New Industry

September 20th 2012


Eleven years ago, Dr. Kathryn Locatell’s testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing on alleged Medicare billing abuses generated a rush of media coverage, but little lasting reform. Locatell, a California physician, helped expose medical billing consultants who made a living teaching doctors how to use the billing system to reel in higher fees. The techniques ranged from billing for medical treatments that weren’t needed to packing a patient’s file with irrelevant details as a means to justify higher, more lucrative, Medicare billing codes. “The information presented to us at the seminars did not include any method of … ensuring that the services billed for were medically necessary,” Locatell testified at the June 2001 Senate Finance Committee hearing.


The 2012 Vote

Chief of Joint Chiefs of Staff Calls for Military to Refrain from Politics

September 19th 2012

General Martin Dempsey
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The nation's top uniformed military official on Monday advised current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces to refrain from what he termed "partisan politics." His statement comes as a result of groups of Navy SEALs, intelligence officials and others, such as Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, who are highly critical of President Barack Obama.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said, in an interview on Monday during his flight to visit Turkey, that using the uniform for partisan politics hurts the trust Americans have in their warriors.

Gen. Dempsey claims that throughout his 38-year military career in the Armed Forces he has always been politically neutral. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

Salve for Sick Buildings

September 19th 2012


The Better Air system infuses indoor air with probiotics, leaving no room for germs and allergens to cause illness and body odor.

House mold, smelly armpits, dust mites, “sick building syndrome” and hospital-borne bacterial infections now face tough competition: Israeli startup Better Air has developed a novel air filtration system that uses millions of “good” bacteria called probiotics to overtake the “bad” bacteria and their associated contaminants infiltrating indoor living, healing and workspaces. Like the probiotics we ingest to promote good gut health, Better Air’s BioZone system uses a similar good bacteria to keep out the unwanted bacteria and related allergens that can cause sickness, infection and foul odor in homes, offices, hospitals – and even on bodies.

Better Air co-founder Yuli Horesh became interested in the field of bacteria, when his grandmother died as a result of a rare hospital-borne bacterial infection. Horesh was determined to do something about the rising incidence of fatal hospital-acquired infections, and the effects of sick buildings. The technology he adopted, based on research at Ghent University in Belgium, can be a paradigm shifter. Read more ..

The Geology Edge

Will Submerged Atlantis Supervolcano Cause Giant Tsunami?

September 19th 2012

Thera, Santorini

The Mediterranean Sea basin, especially that portion bordered by Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel will soon have a new Marine Center that will help to reveal some of the secrets of this ancient and historical body of water. This includes the ancient seaport of Ceasarea, which was built and made famous during the reign of King Herod the Great and was partially destroyed by earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis, such as those caused by mega volcano eruptions in Greece, Crete, and Turkey more than 3,000 years ago.

Much historical romanticism surrounds the destruction of the ancient city-state of Atlantis, the exact location of which has been said to have been anywhere from islands in the Mediterranean to an actual continent in either the Atlantic or Indian Oceans.

The stories of Atlantis were written by the Greek poet and historian Homer, who placed Atlantis on the present day Greek island of Santorini, which is actually a large and presently dormant supervolcano Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Republicans Worry that Romney will Blow his Election Chances

September 19th 2012


Republicans are worried that Mitt Romney is blowing a presidential race he should be winning, following publication of his comment that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and are dependent on the government.

Two GOP Senate candidates distanced themselves Tuesday from the remarks, revealed in a leaked video from a private fundraiser. And Republican strategists warned that the candidate’s words could fire up the Democratic base while alienating independent voters.

President Obama seized on the remarks to raise funds, while Romney sought to shift discussion to a 1998 video of Obama, then an Illinois state senator, discussing his support for the redistribution of wealth. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Jihadi Terrorists and Muslim Brotherhood Silence Dissidents with Crucifixion

September 18th 2012

Yemeni terrorists

Shocking evidence has emerged from the Mideast about an escalation in the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries. According to a report in Lebanon Today, at least one man was crucified and two others were otherwise executed by the jihadist group Ansar al-Shariah that had taken control of a region in Yemen and imposed Islamic religious law, known as shariah. The jihadists accused the trio of being agents or spies for the United States and crucified them several months ago. The MEMRI website has photographs of the jihadists’ victims .

A caption to a video of a victim of crucifixion explained that he was an accused “spy who was executed by extremists for placing sensors in militant’s cars to direct U.S. attacks on them.”

A report issued to subscribers only by the MEMRI website showed a photograph of the victim crucified on an electric pylon in south Yemen’s Abyan province. Translated, a sign affixed above the victim’s head displayed the flag of the Al-Qaeda-linked group and a text from verse 5:33 of the Koran: “The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.”


Argentina on Edge

Argentines Taking it to the Streets in Protest Against President Kirchner

September 18th 2012

Cacerolazo protests Argentina

On Thursday, September 13, Argentina witnessed the largest protest to date under the administration of incumbent president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Reminiscent of the “cacerolazos,” the demonstrators who famously protested with pots and pans against the 2001-2002 collapse of the Argentine financial sector, thousands of Argentines gathered in the main plazas and intersections of cities across the country including Buenos Aires, Rosario, Córdoba, and Mar del Plata.

Images from the manifestations have revealed Argentines chanting, holding anti-government signs, and banging kitchen pans. Using social media like Facebook and Twitter to mobilize, demonstrators gathered in front of the presidential residence in the northern Greater Buenos Aires region of Olivos while others marched along the major avenues of the capital to gather in the Plaza de Mayo.

Since her 2011 reelection, in which she won 54 percent of the vote, President Fernández de Kirchner has steadily lost support among Argentine citizens, mainly due to feelings of both economic and personal insecurity. According to the Argentine newspaper Clarín, signs held by protesters addressed a myriad of the population’s major concerns: “Cristina, give back the country. We don’t fear you,” “Stop the inflation,” “No to constitutional reform. No to the re-reelection,” “We want freedom to use our savings,” “Security,” and “No to the reduction of our liberties”. These signs are the latest exemplifications of an abrupt, if not unexpected, loss of support for the once-popular president. Read more ..

The Violent Roads of Mexico

Mexico's Supreme Court Re-Asserts Civilian Control over War on Drugs

September 18th 2012

Mexican soldiers at the beach

In a key 8-2 decision on Tuesday, August 21, Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down the core provision of a law that had allowed the military to try criminal offenses against civilians by military tribunals. A crucial decision for preserving civilian power over the uncertain and often questionable judgment of the military, this ruling once again reveals the damage that Mexico’s Drug War has done to the Mexican people and the country’s rule of law.

The case involved the June 2009 killing of Bonfilio Rubio, an indigenous man, after soldiers fired on his bus at a checkpoint near the town of Huamuxtitlan, in southern Mexico. The military’s attorney argued that it had jurisdiction over the case since part of the military code, Article 57 II (a), read that all crimes committed by soldiers on duty are considered crimes concerning military conduct, rather than crimes against civilians. However, a Mexican federal law ensures that “military courts in no case and for no reason may extend their jurisdiction over people who do not belong to the army.” [4] The Supreme Court therefore maintained that a military tribunal for military offenses against civilians was found to be blatantly unconstitutional. Read more ..

The Automotive Edge

Car Sharing As A Smartphone App - The Key To Future Urban Traffic

September 18th 2012

The demand for flexible mobility in urban areas through car sharing models is what automotive electronics expert company wants to address with a kind of "universal key" for all kind of shared vehicles and geographies. The key is implemented as a smartphone app which communicates with the vehicle through Near Field Communications (NFC). The new key is much more versatile and cost effective than existing systems, the company claims.

The centrepiece of the carhsaring key is a digital cryptographic key which is exchanged between by the smartphone and the vehicle through the app. Before a user can enter a car, Continental sends an unforgeable data record to the handset. This record will be stored on the SIM card and represents the right to access a specific vehicle. When the user takes over the car, the data including authentication, vehicle identification and vehicle technical status has to be transferred across a distance of a few centimetres to the vehicle. For this purpose, an NFC reader is installed inside the car - for instance behind the windscreen near the door. Another NFC reader inside the vehicle verifies the digital key before the engine can be started. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Muslim Protests and Riots Continue over Muhammad Movie

September 17th 2012

Cairo embassy protest Sep 2012

Hundreds of protesters rioting against an anti-Islam film torched a press club and a government building Monday in northwest Pakistan, sparking clashes with police that left at least one person dead. Demonstrations also turned violent outside a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the leader of the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah called for sustained protests in a rare public appearance before thousands of supporters at a rally in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah accused U.S. spy agencies of being behind events that have unleashed a wave of anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world.

​​The protests followed demonstrations and violence in about 20 countries since last Tuesday when the American ambassador in Libya and three of his staff were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as protests spread from neighboring Egypt. Read more ..

The Ancient Edge

Oldest Roman Fortification in Germany Found

September 17th 2012

Romans and Picts

In the vicinity of Hermeskeil, a small town some 30 kilometers southeast of the city of Trier in the Hunsrueck region in the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, archaeologists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have confirmed the location of the oldest Roman military fortification known in Germany to date. These findings shed new light on the Roman conquest of Gaul. The camp was presumably built during Julius Caesars’ Gallic War in the late 50s B.C.

Nearby lies a late Celtic settlement with monumental fortifications known as the “Hunnenring” or "Circle of the Huns," which functioned as one of the major centers of the local Celtic tribe called Treveri. Their territory is situated in the mountainous regions between the Rhine and Maas rivers. "The remnants of this military camp are the first pieces of archaeological evidence of this important episode of world history," comments Dr. Sabine Hornung of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at JGU. "It is quite possible that Treveran resistance to the Roman conquerors was crushed in a campaign that was launched from this military fortress." Read more ..

Broken Healthcare

As Kidney Disease Kills Thousands, Scientists Scramble for Answers

September 17th 2012


In this tiny Sri Lankan village, rice farmer Wimal Rajaratna sits cross-legged on a wooden bed, peering out toward lush palm trees that surround his home. Listless and weak, the 46-year old father of two anxiously awaits word on whether his body can accept a kidney donation that offers his only chance of survival.

In Uddanam, India, a reed-thin farmer named Laxmi Narayna prepares for the grueling two-day journey he takes twice every week. For most of his 46 years, his job involved shimmying up palm trees to harvest coconuts at the top. He now spends most of his time negotiating the more than 100-mile bus trips he takes to receive the dialysis treatments that keep him alive.

Ten thousand miles away, in the Nicaraguan community of La Isla, Maudiel Martinez dreads returning to the rolling sugarcane fields where he spent most of his teenage years at work with a machete. Blood tests by the sugar company that employed him found that his kidneys were seriously damaged — and exertion beneath the tropical sun could tip the 20-year-old’s health into a lethal spiral. In three countries on opposite ends of the world, these men face the same deadly mystery: their kidneys are failing, and no one knows why. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Angola Still Riddled With Landmines,

September 16th 2012

Land Minee

Ten years after the end of the civil war in Angola, the country still remains, despite its best efforts, one of the most unexploded mine-affected countries in the world. The African nation was due to finish the demining by 2013, but the Angolan government is requesting a five-year extension to complete the task.

Cautiously, meter after meter, a deminer checks if the ground is clear of mines and unexploded devices. He is working on a demining zone operated by the NGO Norwegian People's Aid five hours east of the capital city, Luanda. His team has been here for two months, just steps away from a village.

Most villagers have been living here for a long time. They left during the fighting, and came back when the war ended in 2002, only to find their land riddled with mines.  Angie Labento, who has been living here for 20 years, already sees a difference since the demining operation started.

"We are very thankful; soon the kids will be able to run around. We were afraid before, so we are very thankful,” says Labento.

But the main life-changer is yet to come for the villagers. The team is working to reopen for them access to the water tank located in the middle of the minefield. Soon, they will finally have water running down the taps again, for the first time in decades. According to the United Nations Development Program, more than 80,000 people in Angola have been maimed by landmines since war broke out in 1975, and thousands more were killed. One out of eight Angolans lives in a landmine-affected community, and the 30 years of war have riddled all provinces with mines. Read more ..

Germany and Israel

Germany Reconsiders Sale of Submarines to Egypt

September 15th 2012

Deutschen Kriegsmarine unterseeboot 400

The planned sale of two German made attack submarines to Egypt is being reconsidered by the German government, according to Der Spiegel, after Israeli lobbying against the sale intensified in recent months.

In late November of 2011, Germany approved a deal that would send two Type-209 submarines to the Egyptian government, however, Israel began its efforts to stop the sale in early September.

According to the Der Spiegel report, Germany’s Federal Security Council would cancel the sale “if the Egyptian government pursues a policy hostile to Israel. That’s a personal promise [Angela] Merkel gave to Netanyahu.” Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Police Interrogate Christian Film-Maker of 'The Innocence of Muslims'

September 15th 2012

Nakoula Bassely Nakoula

U.S. probation officials in California have questioned the man allegedly behind the controversial film that sparked violent protests in the Muslim world. Sheriff's officials said on September 15 that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was questioned in Cerritos near his home for possible probation violations stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction.

They say the terms of his probation include a five year ban on using computers or the Internet, without approval from a probation officer. Police say Nakoula left his home voluntarily to be interviewed by federal authorities. Authorities say he was not arrested or detained.

The film, titled The Innocence of Muslims, sparked protests in regions including the Middle East, Africa and Asia because it mocked the Prophet Muhammad. In an earlier interview with U.S.-government-funded Radio Sawa, the alleged director of the film said his fellow Arabs "have to learn to demonstrate peacefully." He said any allegation the U.S. government was involved in the making of the movie is "ridiculous" and that "America has nothing to do with the film." Radio Sawa says the man refused to confirm his identity, but that a source who provided the contact information identified him as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Read more ..

Broken Borders

Conflict over Water Resources Bubbles Up in Northern Mexico

September 14th 2012

Mennonites in Mexico

For the second time in less than two weeks, Mexican farmers have blocked the railroad that runs south of Ciudad Juarez in an intensifying protest against the over exploitation of water. As many as four hundred farmers from the north-central and northwestern parts of Chihuahua state began staging a camp-in September 12 at the Ferromex railway tracks near the town of Villa Ahumada, preventing trains from passing through the zone and obstructing the construction of a gas pipeline. Representing members of historic, collectively-owned farm lands known as ejidos, the protesters insisted that the National Water Commission (Conagua) resume investigating and shutting down illegal wells and small dams in the Carmen River Basin. They also demanded that federal environmental officials sanction all those who have opened up new farms in pasture lands and violated environmental laws. Read more ..

The Edge of Nature

Tree Deaths Linked to Climate Change

September 13th 2012

Aspen Tree Death

Hot and dry conditions triggered by climate change are killing the world's trees, according to a new report which examines dozens of scientific articles on the subject.  

Stanford University graduate student William Anderegg has seen this forest die-off firsthand. His doctoral thesis documents the impact of drought on trembling aspen, the most common tree in North America.

“These are complete hillsides of trembling aspens that are dying off," Anderegg says. "And when the main tree in a forest goes, you tend to see a lot of the other species, especially the grasses and the wild flowers, tend to disappear as well. But you lose a lot of those species from those forests.”

With colleagues from Stanford and North Arizona State University, Anderegg co-authored the new report which presents a picture of accelerating worldwide tree deaths that appear to be linked to changes in the global climate. Read more ..

The New Libya

Slain Ambassador Stevens Leaves Behind a Diplomatic and On-Line Legacy

September 13th 2012

Ambassador J Christopher Stevens
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens

A senior U.S. State Department official killed on September 11 at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was not only a diplomat in real life but in the virtual world as well. Sean Smith, an information management officer, was better known as “Vile Rat” on EVE, a popular online science fiction video game in which nearly 400,000 players explore, fight and build communities in space.

As news of his death broke, popular gaming sites and forums exploded with outpourings of grief at the loss of a prominent member of the EVE community. Mark Heard, another EVE player who goes by “Seleene,” noticed something was wrong when he saw “Vile Rat” type an expletive and then “gunfire” on the instant messaging service Jabber.

In an online tribute, Heard says his first thought was, “Oh, hell, he’s in another one of those places” with spotty Internet and lax security, like Smith’s previous post in Baghdad. But this time was different. Heard and other EVE players say they have lost one of their most important members. “Sean was one of the most well known and respected diplomats for one of the most powerful alliances in EVE. He helped shape the universe we all play in,” said Heard, adding that diplomacy in the game is as complex as anything you would see in the real world. Read more ..

The Violent Roads of Mexico

Mexico Awash in the Blood of Endless Narco-War

September 12th 2012

Mexican soldiers on the march

As the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon enters its final weeks, parts of Mexico remain awash in blood from the so-called narco war. And Mexico’s old beach resort of Acapulco is among the most violent places. Practically on a daily basis, executions, shoot-outs and the discovery of dismembered bodies disturb the social peace.

The state of Guerrero’s biggest city, Acapulco is a hub of violence that extends into the countryside and reverberates back into the Pacific port city. “The corridor of the Costa Grande of the state, from Acapulco to the municipality of La Union that borders the state of Michoacan, has been a constant news item because of the criminal acts that are now common in the zone,” recently wrote a reporter for the Guerrero daily El Sur. Read more ..

Broken Banking

Financial Crisis Offers Lessons for Future

September 12th 2012

Lehman Bros

Four years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a huge financial firm, marked the start of the worst recession in decades.  Frightened investors dumped stocks, banks stopped lending, the economy shrank, and millions of people lost jobs, homes, and savings.  The crisis prompted financial firms and regulators to make changes intended to prevent another financial disaster.  But some experts say it could happen again.
Since the crisis, committees investigated what went wrong, regulators demanded that banks take less risk, and Congress passed new laws.  Many of the regulations that spell out the practical details of these laws are still being written, amid intense lobbying by financial firms and other interests.  Prosecutions for alleged fraud have frustrated one key investigator who says they have mostly targeted low-ranking people.  Bart Dzivi, was Special Counsel to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. "They have not really focused on trying to round up the senior officers at the major institutions who may have had criminal culpability," he said. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Obama Snubs Bibi in Pursuit of a Line in the Sand for Iran

September 11th 2012

Obama and Netanyau

A request for a bilateral meeting of President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the sidelines at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly was refused by the American leader. Both governments reported that President Obama would not agree to the Israeli request. While the Israelis said that their request was refused, White House spokespersons said President Obama had a scheduling conflict. There may come a meeting at a later time.

The Obama administration's rejection of Netanyahu's request demonstrated how strained U.S./Israeli relations have become. Obama will be in New York on September 24-25, while Netanyahu arrives later. White House sources claimed that a meeting outside of the international conclave is a possibility.

Such a request from a head of state from an allied country, coming about as Israel has grown increasingly worried about Obama’s wait-and-see approach to Iran, which continues its nuclear weaponization program and its threats to annihilate Israel. Netanyahu has demanded so-called “red-lines” to mark actions made by Iran that would trigger possibly a military response by the U.S. Read more ..

Remembering 9/11

Remembering the Man whose Warnings America Ignored

September 11th 2012

NYPD and flag

Each year on September 11, many police officers and security managers remember the contributions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counterterrorism Chief, the late John P. O’Neill. And Sept. 11, 2012 will be no different.

While the Clinton Administration slept during the terrorists' war against the United States, O'Neill did all he could to fight the radical Islamists who wished to place the American people in harm's way. Unlike America's leadership, O'Neill realized early-on that the Islamists were at war with the United States.

O'Neill faced political opposition from members of the Clinton Administration, who ignored his reports and warnings. On many occasions he was denied funding for his frequent trips to the Middle East to investigate leads on terrorist groups. On several trips, he paid for his own expenses -- plane fare, hotel accommodations, etc. -- in order to wage his one man war against terrorism. Read more ..

The Edge of Climate Change

Destroyed Coastal Habitats Produce Significant Greenhouse Gas

September 10th 2012

Coastal Habiitat
Credit: Duke University

Destruction of coastal habitats may release as much as 1 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, 10 times higher than previously reported, according to a new Duke led study. The analysis provides the most comprehensive estimate of global carbon emissions from the loss of these coastal habitats to date: 0.15 to 1.2 billion tons. It suggests there is a high value associated with keeping these coastal-marine ecosystems intact as the release of their stored carbon costs roughly $6-$42 billion annually.

"On the high end of our estimates, emissions are almost as much as the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the world's fifth-largest emitter, Japan," said Brian Murray, director for economic analysis at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "This means we have previously ignored a source of greenhouse gas emissions that could rival the emissions of many developed nations."  Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Why We’re More Likely Than Ever Before To Believe Fake News

September 10th 2012

Fake News in Russia

The story sounded almost too good to be true. Valery Gergiev, a conductor known as a strong supporter of the Putin regime, interrupted a performance at London's Covent Garden to speak out in favor of the feminist performance artists Pussy Riot: "The thing is, yesterday Moscow saw another day of hearings in the fabricated case of Pussy Riot.... I apologize for such a vulgar comparison, but the Russian state is acting like a dominant male in a group of monkeys, compelled to show off his sex organs to make the others fear him." The text of Gergiev’s speech went viral.

But in fact, Gergiev never made the speech -- it came instead from a Russian spoof website called Fognews.com. Gergiev later denied he made the comments, but the damage was already done. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Presidential Candidates Seek to Deliver Knock-Out at Debates

September 10th 2012

romney buttons

Three looming debates represent the last, best chance for President Obama or Mitt Romney to force a decisive moment in the presidential race. The Romney team will be especially eager to maximize the opportunity, in light of several polls showing that Obama has widened his previously small lead since last week’s Democratic National Convention.

The president’s boost from that event might well dissipate in the weeks ahead, but, for now, it has bolstered the confidence of the Obama camp — and deepened worries among Republicans. For Romney, the task he faces is to connect with voters, present himself as a candidate worthy to be considered on the same level as a sitting president and persuade the electorate that his plan for the economy would work and Obama’s has failed. For Obama, the priority is to emphasize once again that the election is a choice and Romney is an unacceptable alternative. Read more ..

Israel and America

Israel is Where US Vets Come to Heal

September 9th 2012

The unique Heroes to Heroes Journey to Israel gives America’s disabled veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan a spiritual and physical new start. The pressure sleeve on Harrison Manyoma’s arm relieves the physical wound he received in combat in Iraq. For relief of his emotional wounds, he came to Israel.

“I’ve only been here five days so far and I feel at peace,” says Manyoma, a 35-year-old Houston US Army veteran who was injured during a 2004 tour of duty. “I have been able to interact emotionally while at the same release things that have been in my heart and my spirit.” Manyoma is one of 10 former soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) visiting Israel from August 30 through September 9 with the American charitable organization Heroes to Heroes. Read more ..

The Edge of Nature

Tigers Take to the Night Shift to Avoid Encroaching Human Beings

September 8th 2012

Tiger Tiger of the Night

Tigers don’t have a reputation for being very accommodating, but a new study challenges the long-held conservation belief that these large carnivores need lots of people-free space. This new understanding is especially critical because, since the start of the 20th century, the tiger population has declined by 97 percent to approximately 3,000 worldwide largely due to loss of habitat from encroaching cities and agriculture.

Michigan State University graduate student Neil Carter set up motion-detecting camera traps in and around Nepal’s Chitwan National Park to study human-tiger interaction. The park, nestled in a valley of the Himalayas and protected by army patrols, is home to about 120 tigers. But the area is home to people, too. Tourists visit the park and local villagers live on its periphery, where tigers also roam. Read more ..

China on Edge

Sluggish Growth of Chinese Economy Concerns APEC Summit

September 8th 2012

Industrial and Commericial Bank of China
President Hu Jin Tao of China

As Asia-Pacific leaders gather in the Russian city for their annual heads-of-state forum on Saturday, slowing growth and investment in China, Asia's largest economy, is set to dominate the agenda. Despite slower orders for Chinese manufacturers, China's growth still tops seven percent. "In the very near term, I think the key word is stabilization," said Hong Kong economist Shen Minggao, head of China research for Citigroup, who expects to see measures to stabilize the economy and avoid social unrest undertaken. "But promoting consumption or services are deemed longer-term measures," he says. "So in the very near term, they have to go back to the traditional growth engines, for example exports."

At a meeting of APEC ministers held on Thursday, Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong said China has a record of making the right moves. "While there has been some moderation in Chinese growth, our observation would be — and I think that it is a sound one — that Chinese authorities have room to move, to support growth consistent with the plans they have outlined," she said. But according to Dan Ikenson, director of trade policy studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank, Chinese research and development lags behind most other major economies. Read more ..

The Edge of Nature

Could Istanbul Be Hit by a Big One?

September 7th 2012

Turkey Earthquake

The drilling has started for a seismic monitoring network on the Marmara Sea near Istanbul. Specially designed seismic sensors in eight boreholes on the outskirts of Istanbul and around the eastern Marmara Sea will monitor the seismic activity of the region with high precision. In each of the respective 300 meter deep holes several borehole seismometers will be permanently installed at various depths. These detect even barely perceptible earthquakes with very small magnitudes at a high resolution and can thus provide information about the earthquake rupture processes associated with these.

To determine and monitor the seismic hazard of the region and the processes occurring in the fault zone beneath the Marmara Sea off Istanbul with the latest earthquake monitoring technology, the GONAF plate boundary observatory (Geophysical Observatory at the North Anatolian Fault) was set up under the auspices of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. Read more ..

Destination Israel

Tel Aviv Bids for Artificial Island International Airport At Sea

September 7th 2012

Macau Island Airport
Macau's Island Airport - Simialr to Tel Aviv Plan

There has been talk for a couple of years already that Tel Aviv’s international airport will move to the sea, literally. A proposal has been submitted to create an artificial island off the city’s coast to replace the Ben Gurion Airport, one that services local, domestic and international flights. A couple months ago I interviewed a geologist helping to develop feasibility studies for such a structure. And according to media reports it looks like the crazy plan is going ahead despite environmental risks to the fragile Mediterranean Sea, and security risks of sabotage.

A new committee from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Israel developed a feasibility report for this artificial airport island to be built off the coast of the Tel Aviv suburb Rishon LeZion. Goodovitch Architects have drafted some sketches (above) of how the airport could look. Among the parties involved in the far-flung idea is Elie Schalit, 92, a chairman and founder of the Colbert Group, which builds giant cruise ships. He was the man who built the first ships for Ted Arison and his Carnival Cruise Lines. Read more ..

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