Thursday, February 05, 2015

Roads to nowhere

Well we know where we're goin'
But we don't know where we've been
And we know what we're knowin'
But we can't say what we've seen
And we're not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

[Chorus:]
We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride


It's not every day that the esteemed Foreign Policy team delve deep into Guambat's alter-ego procurement world, but they've done it this month, twice:
Ghani, UNDP, and the NYT: Who Really ‘Overreached’ on Paying the Afghan Police? and

Steamrolled: A special investigation into the diplomacy of doing business abroad.
Guambat reckons the latter one, by Matthew Brunwasser, supported by the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, is the juicier one. Here's a few teasers:
To be sure, promoting the business interests of American companies abroad is in the portfolio of every U.S. diplomat. Government officials argue that such efforts benefit the United States economically by creating exports and jobs. But the drive for private profit, critics assert, can conflict with foreign-policy interests, especially when projects cause damage in host countries.

The 48-mile, four-lane Kosovo Highway, as it is known, was completed in November 2013 for roughly $1.3 billion — or about $25 million per mile — according to official government figures given to an international organization in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital. It was the most expensive public works project in Kosovo’s modern history, and it is arguably one of the highest-quality roads in the Balkans.

The road stretches through one of the poorest pockets of southeastern Europe. But today, the highway is practically empty, used at less than one-third of its capacity, according to the government’s, according to the government’s own traffic count and information provided by international economic experts. As of 2013, only one in seven Kosovars owned a car, giving the country one of the lowest automobile ownership rates in Europe. The highway’s black vein of asphalt now stands out against the Balkan countryside, as if mocking the surrounding poverty like a cruel Dickensian joke.

A six-month investigation by the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism has found that highways in Kosovo, Croatia, Romania, and Albania were boondoggles for the countries in which they were constructed, and that members of governments and international institutions often saw problems coming before Bechtel (along with its Turkish joint venture partner, Enka) even began work on the roads.

U.S. Ambassador Dell is emblematic of a cited by Bechtel’s critics: that its Balkan road projects have blurred the line between U.S. foreign policy and the corporation’s interests. Dell spoke out publicly in support of the highway project, the contract for which was signed in April 2010 — even as international institutions questioned the road’s value to Kosovo. A May 2010 World Bank report, for instance, found that only two out of nine sections of the road (those nearest Pristina) would be “economically viable,” meaning that they could be expected to produce an economic benefit greater than the cost of construction and maintenance. (The findings were based on projections of Kosovo’s economic growth until the year 2032.)

Dell left Pristina in 2012 and took another diplomatic position elsewhere, before retiring from the State Department in October 2013. The following month, Bechtel hired him as its representative in Mozambique.

Founded in 1898, Bechtel is a private company, now in the hands of the fifth generation of the family for whom it is named. The company has long used highly placed officials in the State Department and other government agencies to shepherd international contracts; diplomatic knowledge, experience, and contacts have played vital roles in establishing the corporation as a major player in international construction. There is also a revolving door between Bechtel and the U.S. government, with some former diplomats joining the company and some former Bechtel executives and senior employees taking up public positions in the foreign service and elsewhere.

According to a Bechtel veteran, Balkan governments have chosen the company for projects because of its proven record of delivering quality products on tight deadlines. “The history of infrastructure in the Balkans is fraught with non-performance,” said Charles Redman, a senior vice-president at Bechtel from 1996 to 2008 and a retired career U.S. diplomat. (Among his senior posts, Redman was assistant secretary and State Department spokesman during the term of Secretary George Shultz, who himself was plucked from his position as president of Bechtel by Ronald Reagan. Bechtel’s onetime general counsel, Caspar Weinberger, also served alongside Shultz in Reagan’s cabinet, as secretary of defense.)

After Bechtel submitted its bid for the highway, according to interviews with officials from international institutions, Ambassador Dell put pressure on the Kosovo government not only to choose Bechtel but also to sign a contract with terms that were favorable to the corporation. Meanwhile, according to these sources, a broad coalition including the World Bank, the IMF, European embassies, NGOs, and think tanks opposed Bechtel’s bid — sometimes publicly, sometimes privately. They were concerned that the bidding process and negotiations lacked transparency, and that the proposed project was so lavish that it might damage Kosovo’s economic stability. Of particular concern was the bid’s unit-price contract, which meant the highway project’s final bill would be tallied only when all work had been completed. This left open the possibility that estimated costs could skyrocket.
Sorry, Guambat's attention span ends somewhere about here. Maybe, though, you should read the piece. Guambat's peace of mind is disturbed by such matters.


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Saturday, January 31, 2015

So, who are we to believe?

Who ya gonna believe: some dayem scientist or the Texas Board of Education? OK, that's a bit cheeky; opposition to science extends far beyond the halls of the Texas "school" system, as we see below (which bears passing similarity to the actual article).

Views on evolution among the public and scientists
Whereas nearly all scientists say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, only two thirds of the public agrees, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Asked which comes closer to their view, "Humans and other living things have evolved over time" or "Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time," 98% of scientists responding chose the "evolved-over-time" option and only 2% chose the "since the beginning-of-time" option.

65% of the public respondents chose the "since the beginning-of-time" option, and 31% chose the "evolved-over-time" option. 4% perhaps responded, "huh?". 66% of the public, however, believed scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time.

Digging deeper, those who chose the "evolved-over-time" option were then asked whether they preferred "Humans and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection" or "A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today."

90% of scientists preferred the "natural processes" option, and 8% preferred the "supreme being" option.

35% of the public preferred the "natural processes" option, and 24% preferred the "supreme being" option, indicating, perhaps, 59% of the 31% of the public believing in "evolved-over-time" agreed with free choice processes.

Three-quarters (75%) of college graduates believe that humans have evolved over time, compared with 56% of those who ended their formal education with a high school diploma or less. As a religious refugee from Texas decades ago, Guambat is inclined to believe that the number of Texans "educated" by the Texas Board of Education who believe humans evolved is statistically insignificant.
Don't take Guambat's word, though. You can read the summary of the report here.

The summary makes the observation that 79% of adults say that science has made life easier for most people, but only a majority is positive about science’s impact on the quality of health care, food and the environment. 61% say that government investment is essential for scientific progress, while 34% say private investment is enough to ensure scientific progress is made. 

Guambat reckons this 34% correlates somehow with the fact only a majority is positive about science's impact on the quality of life. But Guambat, being no scientist by any stretch of evolution, lacks the tools to test the hypothesis, and is terrified of tests anyway.

As an aside: Texas finally approves history textbooks amid religious and political concerns

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Righting copyrights, in concept at least

Guambat has long lamented the abuse of copyrights, for instance these. At long last, something has caused this subject to rise to the U.S. Supreme Court's attention in a manner to clear the err. Whether a bit, or a start, remains to be seen.

The case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Intl, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014), can be read here, and an analysis of it here.

A more prosaic article on the situation is this one, which Guambat wishes you would read at the link, because he is an awful case reporter, and because these words are not entirely his own, nor are they reproduced in context (most of the article is left out); and, because you should never, ever take the word of a Guambat:

Business-method and software patents may go through the looking glass after Alice decision
As soon as the court handed down its decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank last June, lower courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began displaying a new, marked hostility toward software and business-method patents. They are now striking down these patents in record numbers and denying applications that would previously have been granted.

"But what may be more interesting is that business-method patents are going down in droves,” says Rochelle C. Dreyfuss, a law professor at New York University and co-director of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy.

The court unanimously declared that in order to be deemed patent-eligible subject matter, an invention must pass a two-step inquiry: First, does the invention consist in significant part of a patent-ineligible concept—for example, a law of nature, natural phenomenon or abstract idea? If so, the invention is patent-eligible only if the remaining parts of the invention have an “inventive concept”—one or more elements that ensure a patent on the invention amounts in practice “to significantly more than a patent upon the ineligible concept itself.”

The invention at issue in Alice was a computerized method to perform electronic escrow for online transactions. The court found the patent on this invention claimed the abstract idea of escrow, which was patent-ineligible. The remainder of the invention, performing the escrow on a general purpose computer, was not sufficient to provide an inventive concept.

There still will be plenty of litigation about what constitutes patent-eligible subject matter. “The Supreme Court is trying to take a consistent view on what is patent-eligible subject matter, but the court’s ruling [in Alice] gives little guidance. District courts are left largely to figure this out on their own,” Hoglund says. “A lot more needs to be answered on how to draw the line between eligible and ineligible subject matter.”

All this is bad news for nonpracticing entities, aka “patent trolls.” They often seek to monetize software or business-method patents; and after Alice, many of these patents could well be struck down. “That gives them a lot less leverage to try to get settlements from defendants,” Corbett says.

One of the trolls’ main sources of power is the discrepancy between litigation and settlement costs.
This article appears in the American Bar Association's ABA Journal. Guambat finds it rather rich,then, that the "bad guys" focused upon in the article are "trolls" who "seek to monetize" patents in a bit of a shake-down act, with threats of litigation. What is the appropriate word for a troll's hired gun?



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rigs, rigging, rigged

RIGS





RIGGING






RIGGED


"I can’t speak for anybody else, but having spent those nearly thirty years immersed in equity, bond, and commodity markets all around the world, I have seen enough to absolutely confirm in my own mind that the markets are rigged.

"Not just some of them. All of them. In different ways, to be sure, but they’re all rigged.

"Not only are they rigged, but they are rigged in ways that beggar belief; and in many places they are rigged by the very people who ought to be responsible for STOPPING any rigging.

"So... as Brad Katsuyama said:

        “If you wanna do this, let’s do this.”

"How do I rig thee? Let me count the ways: [read the piece to find out]"
-- Grant Williams, What’s the Frequency Zenith? , in Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

You absolutely should click the link and read the whole piece.  It's very readable, and includes a great link at the end to a wonderful string recital, for something completely different and irrelevant.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Science (fiction?)

Novel Way Discovered to Decode and Read DNA: Scientists
According to a new report, scientists have discovered a new way to read and decode DNA. Scientists are suspecting this research could forever change the ways on how doctors uncover, diagnose and treat various diseases.

Researchers said the main aim of this research is to understand the process of storage of biological functions in the human genome.

The research, published in the journal Science, states how genomes use genetic code to write information about proteins and that too in two separate languages. Researchers believe that the second language lies below the first and instruct the cell to control the genes.

Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulosm, lead researcher, said: "For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made".

Researchers said this novel research has thrown light on the fact that the DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which has been fully exploited by nature.
Don't Be Duped By 'Duon' DNA Hype
I can only hope that Stamatoyannopoulos didn’t really say that. The authors report that changes in a single DNA sequence can influence both the protein it encodes and the place where other proteins bind to initiate copying. So evolutionarily, a single change could influence two endpoints–copying the sequence and what gets made using the same sequence. That’s cool, but not actually new.

With today’s headlines hyping “Second Code Uncovered Inside the DNA,” you might think that scientists are running around in circles in their labs, tearing out their hair, and screaming. But the real reaction of scientists to these headlines is more along the lines of this Twitter conversation among several scientific experts and science writers. They have good reason to be snarky.

The hype began with the way hype often begins: an institutional news release offering us the holy grail/huge breakthrough/game-changing finding of the day. This kind of exaggeration is the big reason any science consumer should look well beyond the news release in considering new findings. A news release is a marketing tool. You’re reading an advertisement when you read a news release; it’s also scientifically garbled and open to all kinds of misinterpretation, as the comments at the link to the release make clear.

Scientists have not assumed that the genetic code “was used exclusively to write information about proteins,” or even ever assumed that it “writes information about proteins,” whatever that means. A quick primer: Proteins are molecules that do the work of an organism, and that includes the work of copying DNA for protein production and cell division. Even nonmajors biology textbooks cover the fact that the DNA sequence both contains code for proteins and serves a regulatory purpose, making it possible to copy that code into a form the cell can read, recipe-like, to build the proper protein.

(edited in article) I’d be stunned if UW scientists were genuinely “stunned” to discover this dual use of DNA sequences to “write” “two separate languages” because what they really describe is the use of a single language, the language of nucleotides, for two known purposes. They themselves noted that “the potential for some coding exons to accommodate transcriptional enhancers or splicing signals has long been recognized.”

The release also contains gems such as “The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons.” This sentence makes me sad. Codons consist of three nucleotides–which we designate with the letters A, C, G, and T/U–and there are 64 of these triplets, 61 of which serve as molecular code words for 20 amino acids (here is a DNA nucleotide codon table, too; these are the codons the authors address). Some amino acids get more than one word to designate them. The cell “reads” these code words and uses the amino acids they designate to build proteins.

The other problem is the ubiquitous use of the phrase “second code” in so many of the headlines related to this story when the authors themselves state: “ Although nearly all codon biases parallel TF recognition preferences genome-wide…” with the arginine codon as an exception. That’s not a “second code,” even though the news release describes it that way. It’s a different (but already recognized) use of an existing code, now identified as occurring at a greater than previously recognized frequency in areas that use the same code for proteins.

So what was the real import of the study that warranted its publication in Science, a “glamor” science publication? The authors (whose paper I enjoyed) seem to have found that the genome contains more of these dual-use triplet DNA sequences than previously thought, which might make them more relevant when examining some aspects of evolution (see “Single change could influence two endpoints”). And, it seems, the authors wanted the opportunity to, um, codify their own term for these dual-use sequences: duons. I wonder if they realized that the name had already been taken?
Ah, science. Guambat wonders why Mrs Guambat spends so much time watching all the "Housewives of..." shows, when they hardly know the meaning of the term "bitchy". Academic "science" (so often commercial "innovation") could open a whole new realm of reality show in way it never imagined.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

We've always loved the ones we were with

He met a young girl who suited him nice
He went to his papa to ask his advice
His papa said, "Son, I have to say no
That girl is your sister but your mama don't know"

A week went by and the summer came down
And soon another girl on the island, he found
He went to his papa to name the day
His papa shook his head and this time he did say

"You can't marry this girl, I have to say no
That girl is your aunty but your granny don't know

He met a young girl who suited him nice
He went to his papa to ask his advice
His papa said, "Son, I have to say no
That girl is your sister but your mama don't know"

Now, he went to his mama and covered his head
He told his mama what his papa had said
His mama, she laughed, she said, "Go man, go
Your daddy ain't your daddy but your daddy don't know"

Hey, woe is me, shame and scandal in the family
Hey, woe is me, shame and scandal in the family


Ancient bones point to Native Americans' twin ancestry
In the "Out of Africa" theory, Homo sapiens left their ancestral home in east Africa around 50,000 years ago, heading north, west and south. Their East Asian descendants eventually crossed from Sibera to Alaska, island-hopping across the frozen Bering Strait, around 15,000 years ago.

Thus began human settlement of modern-day North America, according to this thinking.

But a new study suggests this human odyssey is rather more complex, and just as compelling. Against all expectations, DNA teased from the bones of a child who lived in Siberia 24,000 years ago shows that the forerunners of Native Americans can also be traced to western Eurasia, or on the western boundaries of Asia.

"The result came as a complete surprise to us," said Eske Willerslev, a professor at the Centre for GeoGenetics in Denmark, who led the probe. Who would have thought that present-day Native Americans, who we learned in school derive from East Asians, share recent evolutionary history with western Eurasians?"
Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives
The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.

“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work.

All humans whose ancestry originates outside of Africa owe about 2% of their genome to Neanderthals; and certain populations living in Oceania, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, got about 4% of their DNA from interbreeding between their ancestors and Denisovans, who are named after the cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains where they were discovered. The cave contains remains deposited there between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago.

The meeting was abuzz with conjecture about the identity of this potentially new population of humans. “We don’t have the faintest idea,” says Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the work.
Perhaps you've had that date?

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Fully one-third of all Microsoft OS owners don't want to come within 3 degrees of current OS

According to this article, fully one-third of all Microsoft OS owners stick with their old trusted XP and won't come closer than three degrees of the current relationship, Windows 8, which is already pretty long in the byte for the dominant PC drug. Let's see, after XP there was, what, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8????

According to the article, Microsoft has unscrupulously scraped the barnacles off the good ship Lollisoft, with resistant effect:
Microsoft has beaten the dump-XP drum for more than two years. Last month, it did so again when a manager in its security group warned that the aged OS will become a prime target for cyber criminals once security updates end on April 8, 2014.

But those calls by Redmond have gone largely unheeded. According to the Irish firm, XP actually gained one-tenth of a percentage point last month.

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Sunday, August 04, 2013

And your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest

When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies

Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love
-- Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane

In the West, we describe something as Machiavellian when it is full of intrigue. Machiavelli was as devious as Mr. Rogers compared to the masters of court of the Middle East.

The following must be read with that in mind, and at face value. And for entertainment, not prescient or insightful political science. More inciteful than insightful, perhaps. Time will tell.

I have taken the piece apart (and extracted) and rearranged it so as to put its own caveats upfront.

The ‘top secret’ Muslim Brotherhood
Proof of this is yet to come, I cannot predict in what form, but come, eventually, it will.

(P.S. – The above article, according to some reports, was is sarcasm. If you do not believe it was is, the author would like to sell the Pyramids to you – at a discount, seeing as it is Ramadan.)

Over the past few weeks, since the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi, there has been something of a sea change in the identification of political actors and public figures.

To begin with, the binary choice in public discourse was clear: pro-Mursi and anti-Mursi. Due to research completed by the most distinguished journalists in the Egyptian media, it appears that there is a separate, previously unheard of group. Now, it seems that there is a growing third option in the public arena: pro-Mursi, anti-Mursi and secretly pro-Muslim Brotherhood.

Their cover story is something we never quite imagined: liberalism. This “top secret" Muslim Brotherhood is an interesting outfit.

One of the members of this ultra-secret group is none other than the famous Google executive that was part of the uprising in 2011 that led to the resignation of then president Hosni Mubarak.

Amr Hamzawy, the founder of the ‘Free Egypt’ party, and prominent member of the National Salvation Front, is another one of these conniving individuals. His cover was blown when he insisted that the complete exclusion of the Brotherhood from Egyptian politics was unjustifiable. His audacity in promoting this idea, which ostensibly is in line with a rational, liberal, and legal approach, only proves his deftness in abusing liberalism to justify the continued existence of the Muslim Brotherhood. That, in itself, shows how truly loyal he is to the top-secret core of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It pains me to say this but Bassem Youssef, the noted political satirist who is highly popular in Egypt, is also a member of the secret-secret Muslim Brotherhood. No one could be left in any doubt, after he called for an independent investigation into the killings of unarmed pro-Mursi protesters at the Republican Guard sit-in.

Alas, my friends, we have one more person that has now been outed. Ladies and gentlemen: Vice President Mohammed el-Baradei is not only a member of this cell. He is, in reality, the true General Guide of the “secret-secret" Muslim Brotherhood.

Be forewarned, friends. Do not be fooled. All of these voices are not supporters of a genuinely pluralistic and progressive Egypt – they are its worst enemies.

With one exception, the author – as a Brit, is in fact an undercover imperialist spy.
Guambat wants very much to roar with laughter, so clever is this piece. But he's shivering too much to do so. Western humor is too slapstick, too Vaudevillian rather than Machiavellian, to appreciate -- or understand -- the seven veils of Middle Eastern humor. Guambat worries it is maybe meant to be unsettling as a substitute for humor.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The mixed fortunes of Swiss and Norwegians

India jails six over Swiss gang rape in Madhya Pradesh A
court in India has sentenced six men to life imprisonment over the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in March this year.

The woman, 39, and her husband were attacked while camping in woodland in central Madhya Pradesh state.

The men, aged between 22 and 30, were all from a village close to the scene of the rape.

The attack came months after a 23-year-old Indian woman died following a gang rape on a bus in Delhi, sparking protests across the country.

Days after the Swiss tourist was raped, changes to the laws were passed, containing stricter punishments for rapists, including the death penalty.
Dubai sentences Norwegian woman who reported rape
Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped.

The 24-year-old reported the March attack to the police but found herself charged with having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury. Verdict: guilty; penalty 16 months prison. Her alleged attacker, she said, received a 13-month sentence for extra-marital sex and alcohol consumption.

Ms Dalelv says she had been on a night out with colleagues on 6 March when the rape took place.

She reported it to the police, who proceeded to confiscate her passport and seize her money. She was charged four days later on three counts, including having sex outside marriage.

The sentence has been condemned by Norway's Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide who is quoted as saying that it "flies in the face of our notion of justice" and was "highly problematic from a human rights perspective".

Dubai has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years, emerging as a five-star trade and tourism destination with its tax-free salaries and year-round sunshine.

It is now one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities with foreign workers and visitors greatly outnumbering the local population.

But it remains a deeply conservative region, and its strict laws have caught out foreigners in the past. Public displays of affection and drunkenness are frowned upon.

A British couple, Ayman Najafi and Charlotte Adams, were jailed for a month in 2010 after they shared what Mr Najafi described as an "innocuous peck on the cheek" in a restaurant. A witness said they had kissed on the mouth.

Another British couple, Vince Acors and Michelle Palmer, were jailed for three months in 2008 for having sex on a public beach - an allegation they denied.
Visit Dubai and enjoy the world's most lavish pandering, but check your pandering culture at the border.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stand your airspace law

The first snowflake of a snowball effect in the making?

Deer Trail to vote on whether to legalize hunting drones
Deer Trail's town board will vote Aug. 6 on an ordinance that would create drone-hunting licenses and offer $100 bounties for unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We do not want drones in town," said Phillip Steel, the resident who drafted the ordinance. "They fly in town, they get shot down."

Read more at the link. (There's not really all that much more to read.)

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don’t Do It, Wendy! (concerning the advice of one jail breaker to another)

A thousand years ago, Guambat and Mrs. Guambat took Baby Bat to DisneyLand, and rode the Peter Pan ride. Baby Bat memorized every kid's media she ever heard or saw. Back then, most of the media was only scratchy records, but then came VHS and Baby Bat was mesmerized. So she had seen Peter Pan, and many of the other Disney films and stories come to life at DisneyLand.

So, anyway, there we all were riding the little carriage through the Land of Pan, at the part where Capt. Hook was making Wendy walk the plank, and it all just became toooo much for Baby Bat, who blurted out, "Don't Do It Wendy!", for all to hear.

Precious memory.

But one that has little to nothing to do with this article.

Taliban to Malala Yousafzai: we regret the shooting but you should join a madrassa
In an open letter released on Wednesday, Adnan Rasheed, a former air force member turned TTP cadre, said he personally wished the attack had not happened, but accused her of running a "smearing campaign" against the militants. "It is amazing that you are shouting for education, you and the UNO (UN) is pretending that you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason ... not the education but your propaganda was the issue," Mr Rasheed wrote.

Mr Rasheed was sentenced to death over a 2003 attack on Pakistan's then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf but escaped from custody in a mass jailbreak in April last year.

He accused Malala of seeking to promote an education system begun by the British colonialists to produce "Asians in blood but English in taste" and said students should study Islam and not what it called the "satanic or secular curriculum".

"I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah (community)," Mr Rasheed wrote. 

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/taliban-to-malala-yousafzai-we-regret-the-shooting-but-you-should-join-a-madrassa-20130718-2q59v.html#ixzz2ZLhzj5DT

I can hear the sage cry of Baby Bat ringing in my ear:
Don't do it, Wendy!!!!





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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Interlude whilst we await Zimmerman's Florida court verdict

(CBS News) JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
A Florida woman who fired warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville had said the state's "Stand Your Ground" law should apply to her because she was defending herself against her allegedly abusive husband when she fired warning shots inside her home in August 2010.

She told police it was to escape a brutal beating by her husband, against whom she had already taken out a protective order.

CBS Affiliate WETV reports that Circuit Court Judge James Daniel handed down the sentence Friday.

Alexander was convicted of attempted murder after she rejected a plea deal for a three-year prison sentence. She said she did not believe she did anything wrong.

She was recently denied a new trial after appealing to the judge to reconsider her case based on Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. The law states that the victim of a crime does not have to attempt to run for safety and can immediately retaliate in self-defense.
Oh, she is a black woman, by the way.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Average Guamanian annual average income lower than his or her share of government debt

The average Guamanian Per Capita Income for 2010 is $12,864 (see). Assuming 175,000 men, women and children on island, the per capita government debt, before personal and household debt, is $12,933. ($1.08 Billion divided by 175,000). 

Which year of your life, fellow Guamanians, do you want to give up to paying off the government debt?

 Better hurry. Interest is accruing.

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They treated Africa as if a market when the rest of world viewed Africa as an economic basket case

Apart from creating gold out of alchemy, which is to say valuable assets out of ideas, the great success of American commerce for most of the 20th Century has been in marketing. Now the cricket strikes at the master.

Why Obama is making an African power-play against China
China surpassed the U.S. in total trade in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009, but its increasingly strong economic ties took root in 2000, when then-Chinese president Hu Jintao hosted representatives from 44 African nations in Beijing to establish the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.

That meeting "set a mandate for China to become Africa's largest trading partner," says Richard Poplak, a Johannesburg-based Canadian author and journalist writing a book about China’s growing role in Africa.

It was also an early sign that the Chinese viewed economic opportunity in Africa through a different lens than their American counterparts.

"What the Chinese did that no one else had done before was that they considered Africa as a market — a market for Chinese goods, institutions and services — when the rest of world viewed Africa as an economic basket case and a place for aid programs,' says Poplak.

While the U.S. focused on global security following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Chinese firms began shoring up major contracts throughout the continent that ensured access to Africa's vast resource wealth in exchange for the funding and construction of infrastructure projects like roads, railways and airports.

China also emphasized multilateral agreements with entire regions of sub-Saharan Africa — agreements the U.S. has largely avoided in the past, says Thomas Tieku, an assistant professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. "The U.S., in many senses, miscalculated their approach to Africa. It has always been to focus on bilateral relationships— select a few countries and deal solely with them," says Tieku. "Now they're playing a catch-up game to try to establish equally strong relationships with multilateral institutions like the African Union."

The U.S. will always have to contend with the fact that China is not limited in its economic partnerships by commitments to propping up democracy and freedom, since the cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy is to take a non-interventionist approach with its trading partners, says Tieku.

"The Chinese will come into a country and in practical terms it doesn’t matter who is running the country," says Poplak. "It doesn't matter what system of government your country uses, it doesn't matter what you did last week. They will come in and do business." But, says Poplak, the Chinese business is not always “above board or unaccompanied by what the Chinese would call the culture of gift giving, euphemistically, but it certainly respects African agency in a way that the West never, ever has and still doesn't."

"Many African policy makers are just not interested in hearing about the power of the free market any more.”
Interesting that it took a Canadian, not USAmerican, observer to state the obvious.

 


Pay attention to that phrase,"non-interventionist approach"


To borrow a phrase from Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that word means what you think it does".

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Chalk it up to stupidity

Activist who chalked anti-bank slogans on San Diego sidewalks found not guilty on all charges
Jeff Olson, 40, was charged with scrawling messages with water-soluble chalk on city sidewalks outside Bank of America branches from April to August 2012, including "Shame on B of A," ''No thanks, big banks," and a drawing of an octopus reaching for dollar bills.

"Graffiti remains vandalism in the state of California," the city attorney's office said. "Under the law, there is no First Amendment right to deface property, even if the writing is easily removed, whether the message is aimed at banks or any other person or group. We are, however, sympathetic to the strong public reaction to this case and the jury's message."

The city's own mayor said the case was "stupid". "The case pitted Mayor Bob Filner against City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who prosecuted the case, and could have sent Olsen to jail for 13 years — one year for each misdemeanor count — and brought a $13,000 fine. The city attorney's office said it offered to reduce the charges to an infraction if Olson agreed to perform community service by cleaning up graffiti but he refused.

Filner called it a "nonsense prosecution" that responded to complaints from Bank of America. "It's washable chalk, it's political slogans," Filner said last week. "We're not even responding to the public's complaint ... I think it's a stupid case. It's costing us money."

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Darwin denyer sits on US House Science Committee

Congressman calls evolution lie from 'pit of hell'
He sits on the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., said in videotaped remarks,
"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
Broun also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days.

The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman's banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell.

Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Congressman-calls-evolution-lie-from-pit-of-hell-3924955.php#ixzz28YITIW8J




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