Thursday, November 29, 2012

TIME's interview script with Morsi

Oh no, I don’t see the situation this way. What I can see now is the Egyptians are free. They are raising their voices when they are opposing the president, and when they are opposing what’s going on. And this is very important. It’s their right to express, and to raise their voices and express their feelings and attitudes. But It’s my responsibility, I see things more than they do. I think you have seen the most recent opinion surveys. I think more than 80, around 90% of the people in Egypt are — according to these opinion measures — they are with what I have done. It’s not against the people, It’s with the people, coincides with the benefits. There is some difference between what’s happening now in expressing the opinions of the people and what happened in January 2011 [during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak]. There is now some violence that we haven’t seen before, which constitutes something bad going on.
Time
And they put him on the cover

The UN General Assembly will vote on Palestine today

The result of Thursday's UN vote, however, is not in doubt: 132 of the UN's 193 member states have already recognised a putative state of Palestine. The US is against. What remains to be decided is what Britain, a permanent member of the security council, will do. France has pledged to vote yes, Germany no, thus splitting the EU vote. Russia and China are in the yes camp. Guardian
They are expected to grant Palestine a non member status.

This new status will grant Palestine access to International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court and open a new avenue for them to pursue their independence.

Yay!

Skyfall visual effects

This article highlights all the special effects int the latest Bond movie. Spoilers alert.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Game changer in Syria



 The just shot down their first helicopter using a shoulder launched missiles.

Tahrir last night

The middle class showed up in Tahrir this early evening. They came in force with their work attire, in pairs or in fives, in one long continuous stream instead of lockstep marches.

Women too showed up, young, old.

I saw one guy on wheel chair in the darken square. It was full but not too much. The volunteer lines to check for weapons and ids were missing - at least from the bridge with the lion heads.

The air was cool, full of late fall breeze. The slogans were strong and getting stronger and they were carried far and wide.

Almost everybody was here. Enough to bring hope back.

Morsy is in big trouble, out of his own making.

The murals of Tahrir


More here.

sexiest man alive

Not known for its sense of humor, the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece apparently fell for a parody by The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site, when it reported Tuesday in some online editions of People’s Daily that Kim Jong-un, the young, chubby North Korean ruler, had been named the “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.” (NYTimes)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Russia is Syria's lifeline

According to the flight records, eight round-trip flights between Damascus International Airport and Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport each carried 30 tons of bank notes back to Syria. There are records relating to the flights in Arabic and English as well as copies of over-flight requests sent to Iran, which are in Farsi.

Syrian and Russian officials did not respond to ProPublica’s questions about the authenticity and accuracy of the flight records. It is not possible to know whether the logs accurately described the cargo or what else might have been on board the flights. Nor do the logs specify the type of currency. TPM

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photos from Ashura celebration


Daily Mail

Ashura is one of the holiest day for Shiite Muslims. This act of self flagellation though is not commonly performed by Shiites. Only a few percentage of their community do it.

Chinese architecture, old and new

This is one of the better ones posted on this The Atlantic article.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Farming the desert

Because there's no shortage of desert in which to site it, a Sundrop greenhouse can be built in isolation from others and be less prone to roving pests. Those that sneak in can be eliminated naturally. In this closeted micro-world, Dave Pratt with his trusty iPhone app is free to play God. Not only does Dave have a flight of in-house bees to do their stuff in the greenhouse (who also live a charmed life as they enjoy a perfect, Dave- controlled climate with no predators) but he also has at his command a platoon of "beneficial insects" called Orius, or pirate bugs. These kill crop-destroying pests called thrips, and do so – weirdly in nature – not for food but for, well, fun. So unless you feel for thrips, or believe food should only be grown in God's own soil and subject to God's own pestilences, Sundrop produce seems to be pure and ethical enough to satisfy all but the most eco-fussy. Guardian

Android Rivers

If you have an Android phone, try my app to read news http://goo.gl/dxK5w. It's still in early development but so far it's been really useful for me. It targets Android 2.2 and above so your old phone should work fine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Countries to visit 2013

1) Portugal
2) Mozambique
3) KYRGYZSTAN (visa-free entry!)
4) Panama
5) Armenia
6) Rwanda
7) Cuba
8) Ukraine
9) Malawi
10) Canada

GlobeSpots

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New - Nigerian scam, Greece style

Please, permit me to spend some of your minutes to present my urgent confidential proposal to you. I’m writing you from Greece, I happened to handle a political appointment in the past administration in Greece, I will not provide you more details for security reasons now, until I hear back from you to provide you the reason for this mail. Reply back to my personal email (aavavourakis@outlook.com) me for more details and you will know more of what I am trying to say. 
Regards, 
From Athens, Greece.

I got this on my inbox today. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rumble in the Congo - again

Rebels with the alleged backing of Rwanda threaten to invade the biggest city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday/on Monday, with UN peacekeepers appearing powerless to stop them.

After several days of heavy fighting, the M23 militia group, which the UN accuses of human rights abuses and recruiting child solders, appeared to be on the brink of taking Goma after resistance from the Congolese army crumbled. Guardian

Monday, November 19, 2012

They are going to kill us all

The shadow banking industry has grown to about $67 trillion, $6 trillion bigger than previously thought, leading global regulators to seek more oversight of financial transactions that fall outside traditional oversight.

The size of the shadow banking system, which includes the activities of money market funds, monoline insurers and off- balance sheet investment vehicles, “can create systemic risks” and “amplify market reactions when market liquidity is scarce,” the Financial Stability Board said in a report, which utilized more data than last year’s probe into the sector. Bloomberg

The best place to follow what's going on in Gaza

http://www.itv.com/news/story/2012-11-14/israel-hamas-gaza/

On Gaza

There is not much to comment on the Gaza situation other than to acknowledge the sufferings of people caught in a conflict initiated by their shortsighted and downright irresponsible leaders.

We shall see in January 2013 when Israel will have its national election whether the country will continue its path of self destruction or it will correct itself.

 Hamas is Hamas - a movement operating in dire circumstances incapable of reforming itself.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The blundering Israel government

Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.

The goal was to move beyond the patterns of the past. For years, it has been the same story: Israeli intelligence discovers information about an impending terrorist attack from Gaza. The Israeli Army takes pre-emptive action with an airstrike against the suspected terror cells, which are often made up of fighters from groups like Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees or Salafi groups not under Hamas’s control but functioning within its territory. These cells launch rockets into Israeli towns near Gaza, and they often miss their targets. The Israeli Air Force responds swiftly. The typical result is between 10 and 25 casualties in Gaza, zero casualties in Israel and huge amounts of property damage on both sides.

Other key Hamas leaders and members of the Shura Council, its senior decision-making body, supported a new cease-fire effort because they, like Mr. Jabari, understood the futility of successive rocket attacks against Israel that left no real damage on Israel and dozens of casualties in Gaza. Mr. Jabari was not prepared to give up the strategy of “resistance,” meaning fighting Israel, but he saw the need for a new strategy and was prepared to agree to a long-term cease-fire. Gershon Bashkin
Gershon Baskin is a co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Shalit. 

Another fucking stupid shooting war

This image from the Israel Defense Force sums up the whole ongoing operation - callous and stupid

Friday, November 16, 2012

Future of Android

Samsung makes tons of money off Android. Google didn't (especially after buying Motorola). So where would that leave the future of the platform (Google created Android)?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Working hours extremism

We recently had a reform in the U.S. to address this. Now, medical residents may no longer work more than 30 hours in a continuous shift, and may not accept or be assigned to new patients after 24 hours. Also, no more than 80 hours per week, but this may be temporarily exceeded if it doesn't exceed an average of 80 hours over a 4-week period. Yes, those are the post-reform figures. In other news, error rates in American hospitals are not as low as you might hope they would be. reddit
This reddit discussion was sparked by a report that a game company staffs were working 36 hours nonstop.

The game industry is full of these gungho bullshit. At certain point, you are going to produce more errors than functionality. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Energy boom in North America

“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”

The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035. Links between regional gas markets will strengthen as liquefied natural gas trade becomes more flexible and contract terms evolve. While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push ever higher, growing by more than one-third to 2035. China, India and the Middle East account for 60% of the growth; demand barely rises in the OECD, but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables. IEA.org
In the near future majority of Middle East oil will go to China. Will it make the country more involved in military entanglement overseas?  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughtful piece on Apple and its current management change

With Forstall’s departure, I believe his former lieutenants have been distributed to Bob Mansfield, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi. While there is no doubt in my mind that these are talented and qualified leaders, are they disruptive? Are they incentivized as such? Because from where I’m standing, the guy in charge is possibly the most talented operational leader on the planet. And an operational leader’s job is ferret out and exterminate all things that make their world less predictable and measured. Rand in Response

More movement on the Syrian front

A bunch of Western power just managed to eke out a new 'unified' Syrian opposition front, which on paper is more representative of the elements within the Syrian population fighting against Assad.

With this 'breakthrough' we will mostly see a change in policy to support weapon purchase by the EU and the US (it has been limited to supplying communication gears now). This means we will see more anti tank and anti helicopters weapons being made available to the fighters

There will still no direct intervention by NATO to country. There's no support for it. Nobody has an appetite to be involved in another quagmire after Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the Guardian piece:
A former imam at the Umayyad mosque in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, was named leader. Riad Seif, who proposed the new initiative, and Suhair Atassi, a female activist, will be his deputies.

It is significant that they put an imam (who is thought to be a moderate) so that the body can gain peel support away from the more radical Islamists operating in Syria that have been getting more funding from the rich Gulf countries. This way we will see more funding being diverted to this group and it is kosher for both the Gulf states and the Western powers. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBC Director General Resign

He said it was the honourable thing to do after a BBC Newsnight film alleged child abuse by an unnamed Conservative politician - which was proved to be unfounded.

During his 54 days in charge, Mr Entwistle has also had to deal with controversy over the BBC shelving a Newsnight investigation into former BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile, who police say could have abused as many as 300 people over a 40-year-period.

As a result, an inquiry is examining whether there were BBC management failings surrounding the Newsnight's Savile programme not being broadcast, and another inquiry has begun into the culture and practices at the BBC in the era of alleged sexual abuse by Savile. Another review is to examine sexual harassment policies at the BBC.

Mr Entwistle's resignation came after he was criticised for his performance during an interview on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme on Saturday, in which he admitted he had not read a newspaper article revealing the case of mistaken identity involving Lord McAlpine, and that he had not seen the Newsnight broadcast when it aired on 2 November as he "was out". BBC
He resigned over a BBC program news program that slander a British Lord for untrue child sexual abuse allegation. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

CIA sex scandal

The collapse of the impressive career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode.

The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said. Washington Post
That is so rich. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

High Times

The US state of Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use. The Mayor of Amsterdam reversed the planned policy to prevent tourists to smoke up at 220 'coffee shops' in the city.

On Puffins


But Atlantic puffins were once driven to near-extinction in the United States by hunting and egg collecting. The busy colonies off the Maine coast today are the result of a long-running restoration project. It took a tremendous amount of time and effort to turn a heretical idea into the noisy, messy, thriving reality of the Maine puffin colonies—and it takes even more work to keep that reality in place.Slate

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

pundits and forecasters on electoral college counts


FiveThirtyEight: obama 313--225 (average of simulations)
Drew Linzer: obama 332--206
RealClearPolitics: obama 303--235
Karl Rove: romney 285--253
Sam Wang: obama 312--226 (average of simulations)

There is a nice roundup on washingtonpost with more predictions from pundits and forecasters alike.

The last campaign speech of Obama

The contaminated aquifers of the Middle East

Today trucks rumble through Jordan to supply the population with drinking water. The water sloshing back and forth in their tanks is often thousands of years old, pumped from fossil groundwater reservoirs that filled up when the region wasn't as dry. Millions of cubic meters of water are now being pumped from such aquifers every day in the Middle East and North Africa. The next hydraulic engineering project is currently underway in Jordan, at a cost of $1.1 billion (€850 million). Starting in the spring of 2013, about 100 million cubic meters a year will be pumped out of the Disi aquifer in the country's south, in addition to the 60 million cubic meters a year already being taken from the aquifer today. The water will then be pumped through pipelines to the capital Amman, some 325 kilometers (203 miles) away.

But radiation experts warn of an invisible danger. Tests have revealed that the water contains high levels of naturally occurring radioactivity, with samples exhibiting radiation levels well above World Health Organization (WHO) radiation guidelines. The health risk doesn't just affect Jordan, but virtually all of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Spiegel

Monday, November 05, 2012

Copts elect new Pope

Speaking to the television cameras that surrounded him at his monastery in a desert town, the pope-designate, Bishop Tawadros, indicated that he planned to reverse the explicitly political role of his predecessor, Pope Shenouda III, who died in March. For four decades, Shenouda acted as the Copts’ chief representative in public life, won special favors for his flock by publicly endorsing President Hosni Mubarak, and last year urged in vain that Copts stay away from the protests that ultimately toppled the strongman. NY Times

Friday, November 02, 2012

Economist presidential endorsement

Just four more days until the election. Here is one of the newspaper endorsements:

...this election offers American voters an unedifying choice. Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him. (Economist)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Free rides for everyone in capital of Estonia

They will implement a city wide free mass transit at the end of this year. Awesome.

SNC is sidelined as Syrian Opposition leadership

“There has to be representation of those who are on the front lines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters during a trip to Croatia. “This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes, but have, in many instances, have not been inside Syria for 20, 30 or 40 years.”

“We’ve made it clear that the S.N.C. can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the Syrian National Council. It can participate, she added, “but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard.” NY Times
Good, whatever the SNC was doing in the past 2 years aren't working. It's time for change. 

Malian raise arms to liberate their own country

"I left Gao because I want to fight to liberate the city," she said. "I hated living under the Mujao. They are dangerous people, they don't fear death. They killed many innocent people, I saw it with my own eyes. They destroyed my school. Our parents send us money so that we can stay in Mopti and learn to fight – they support what we are doing." 
Sissiko is one of thousands of young people who have grown frustrated at the failure of the Mali government – which was toppled by a coup on 22 March and has been replaced by a widely despised interim regime – to protect its citizens in the north. 
Despite a United Nations security council resolution earlier this month opening the door to military intervention to end al-Qaida's hold over the northern region, residents have continued to flee. 
An estimated 35,000 internally displaced people, of whom 10,000 are living in official camps, have arrived in the Mopti region alone since the government lost control of northern Mali, one security source told the Guardian. 
Many, like Sissiko, have joined militias, prompting fears that the ranks of independent trained and armed northerners could create further problems for the country. Guardian