Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spiegel says legalization of prostitution has failed


When Germany legalized prostitution just over a decade ago, politicians hoped that it would create better conditions and more autonomy for sex workers. It hasn't worked out that way, though. Exploitation and human trafficking remain significant problems. Spiegel
The question is always whether making it illegal would make thing worse. But boy, this does make me pause
Because prostitution is legal in Germany, tour buses full of johns often head for brothels in the country. Many of them offer a flat-rate price for as much sex as they like. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Libyan Advice

“I’ll tell you,” the man from Ansar al-Din said, an hour and a half into the discussion. “How can you bring a former Baathi [member of Assad’s secular Baath Party] and a Salafi together? How can you bring an Ikhwani [Muslim Brother] and a communist together?”

“Bring them together in the fighting, not the thinking!” the Libyan said. “You practice your Salafism and kept it to yourself. Let a Christian for example, practice his Christianity and keep it to himself, it’s nobody’s business.”

“This is superficial talk!” the Syrian retorted.

“No, it’s not. That means that unfortunately, you will not achieve your aims.” It was a point the Libyan from Zintan repeated several times throughout the night.

Time
These type of conversations brought by the freedom fighters in Libya will be critical in shaping the post civil war in Syria.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Le Monde on Syrian chemical weapon use


Guerre chimique à Damas by lemondefr
Reporters for Le Monde spent two months clandestinely in the Damascus area alongside Syrian rebels. They describe the extent of the Syrian tragedy, the intensity of the fighting, the humanitarian drama. On the scene during chemical weapons attacks, they bear witness to the use of toxic arms by the government of Bashar al-Assad.
... 
But this does not prevent observation of the devastating effects of the gases being used by the Syrian government at the gates of its own capital. On April 13, the day of a chemical attack on a zone of the Jobar front, Le Monde's photographer was with rebels who have been waging war out of ruined buildings. He saw them start to cough before donning their gas masks, apparently without haste although in fact they were already exposed. Men crouched down, gasping for breath and vomiting. They had to flee the area at once. Le Monde's photographer suffered blurred vision and and respiratory difficulties for four days. And yet, on that particular day, the heaviest concentrations of gas were used not there but in a nearby area.

Le Monde

John McCain just visited Northern Syria and EU lets weapon embargo for Syria (rebel) expires.

Make your own conclusion. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sedition in Malaysia

The uproar over Malaysia’s disputed election shows few signs of abating after the government charged three outspoken opposition figures with sedition, an antiquated and much maligned law primarily used to quell dissent. The crackdown comes amid accusations of vote rigging during the May 5 ballot that saw the incumbent National Front coalition — in power since independence from Britain in 1957 — return with Prime Minister Najib Razak still at the helm. The turmoil provides more evidence that Malaysian democracy, long lauded as a beacon of progress and multiculturalism in Asia, is anything but secure. Time
Malaysia missed the opportunity in 1998 to transformed their politics. They did manage to ride over the Asian Financial Crisis during that time. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Regional entanglement is now official


The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah warned Saturday that the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime would give rise to extremists and plunge the Middle East into a "dark period," and vowed his Shiite militant group will not stand idly by while its chief ally in Damascus is under attack.

In a televised address, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah members are fighting in Syria against Islamic extremists who pose a danger to Lebanon, and pledged that his group will not allow Syrian militants to control areas that border Lebanon. CBC.ca
It is common knowledge that Hezbollah has been assisting Assad regime in their fight to control the country against the popular rebellion of the Syrian people. So the rally and official announcement yesterday by the head of Hezbollah is just an official confirmation for what has been happening for quite a while.

The significant of this confirmation though is huge. Hezbollah became the hero of the Arab world when they fought Israel to a stalemate in 2006 war. Now they have officially supported a despised and brutal regime who are responsible to over 80,000 civilians killed in the past two years.

So Hezbollah is now officially no longer an outsider to the conflict. The Syrian oppositions do not differentiate  between Hezbollah and Assad's Army. This makes South Lebanon, the area controlled by Hezbollah, officially entered as part of the Syrian civil war.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Stockholm burns for the fifth night


Police in Stockholm are to seek reinforcements after youths set cars ablaze and threw stones at police for a fifth night running, officials said. 
About 30 cars were set on fire in poorer districts in north-western and south-western parts of the Swedish capital on Thursday night, with rioters causing widespread damage to property, including schools. However, a police spokesman said the overnight violence was less intense than in previous nights. 
Despite Sweden's reputation for equality, the rioting has exposed a faultline between a well-off majority and a minority, often young people with immigrant backgrounds, who cannot find work, lack education and feel marginalised. (Guardian)

These rioting immigrants aren't going to receive widespread sympathy. It's Sweden, for chrissake. As usual, there are more underlying issues when these type of situations happen but man, this has been going on for 5 nights straight.

Prime Cracker

On April 17, a paper arrived in the inbox of Annals of Mathematics, one of the discipline’s preeminent journals. Written by a mathematician virtually unknown to the experts in his field — a 50-something lecturer at the University of New Hampshire named Yitang Zhang — the paper claimed to have taken a huge step forward in understanding one of mathematics’ oldest problems, the twin primes conjecture.

Editors of prominent mathematics journals are used to fielding grandiose claims from obscure authors, but this paper was different. Written with crystalline clarity and a total command of the topic’s current state of the art, it was evidently a serious piece of work, and the Annals editors decided to put it on the fast track. Simon Foundation
His proof is this
No matter how far you go into the deserts of the truly gargantuan prime numbers — no matter how sparse the primes become — you will keep finding prime pairs that differ by less than 70 million.
The 70 million is a higher bound - more iteration of his proof will make this number lower and lower. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nerve of Steel

 
"I went over to the body where there was a lady sitting there and she said he was dead. She had comforted him by putting something under his back and a jacket over his head. I took his pulse and there was none. I couldn't see the man's face but I could see no evidence that suggested someone had tried to cut off his head. I could see nothing on him to suggest that he was a soldier.

"Then a black guy with a black hat and a revolver in one hand and a cleaver in the other came over. He was very excited and he told me not to get close to the body. I didn't really feel anything. I was not scared because he was not drunk, he was not on drugs. He was normal. I could speak to him and he wanted to speak and that's what we did. Guardian
I would have peed in my pants and ran away from a public murder scene like this. She engaged with these murderers and probably have saved more lives in the process. Amazing.

There are three women overall handling the situation, all civilians
 
Daily Mail

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma




Daily Mail
Mother Nature can be pretty evil.

Samsung takes all of Android's profit

Analysts broke it down like this: Globally, it’s estimated the Android industry made $5.3 billion profit in the first quarter of this year, while the profit estimates for Android phones shipped by Samsung comes in at $5.1 billion for the same period. The exact figure quoted is 94.7 percent profit share, and that’s not including tablets either. Digital Trends

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Austerity Coup de grâce

In normal times, an arithmetic mistake in an economics paper would be a complete nonevent as far as the wider world was concerned. But in April 2013, the discovery of such a mistake—actually, a coding error in a spreadsheet, coupled with several other flaws in the analysis—not only became the talk of the economics profession, but made headlines. Looking back, we might even conclude that it changed the course of policy.

Why? Because the paper in question, “Growth in a Time of Debt,” by the Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, had acquired touchstone status in the debate over economic policy. Ever since the paper was first circulated, austerians—advocates of fiscal austerity, of immediate sharp cuts in government spending—had cited its alleged findings to defend their position and attack their critics. Again and again, suggestions that, as John Maynard Keynes once argued, “the boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity”—that cuts should wait until economies were stronger—were met with declarations that Reinhart and Rogoff had shown that waiting would be disastrous, that economies fall off a cliff once government debt exceeds 90 percent of GDP. Krugman

The man who (could be) invented BitCoin

A few years after returning to Japan, Mochizuki turned his focus to the ABC Conjecture. Over the years, word got around that he believed to have cracked the puzzle, and Mochizuki himself said that he expected results by 2012. So when the papers appeared, the math community was waiting, and eager. But then the enthusiasm stalled.

“His other papers – they’re readable, I can understand them and they’re fantastic,” says de Jong, who works in a similar field. Pacing in his office at Columbia University, de Jong shook his head as he recalled his first impression of the new papers. They were different. They were unreadable. After working in isolation for more than a decade, Mochizuki had built up a structure of mathematical language that only he could understand. To even begin to parse the four papers posted in August 2012, one would have to read through hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pages of previous work, none which had been vetted or peer-reviewed. It would take at least a year to read and understand everything. De Jong, who was about to go on sabbatical, briefly considered spending his year on Mochizuki’s papers, but when he saw height of the mountain, he quailed. The Paradox of the Proof

Ted Nelson explains this in a YouTube video

Ending the drug prohobition

Insulza describes the report, which examines a number of ways to reform the current pro-prohibition position, as the start of "a long-awaited discussion", one that experts say puts Europe and North America on notice that the current situation will change, with or without them. Latin American leaders have complained bitterly that western countries, whose citizens consume the drugs, fail to appreciate the damage of the trade. In one scenario envisaged in the report, a number of South American countries would break with the prohibition line and decide that they will no longer deploy law enforcement and the army against drug cartels, having concluded that the human costs of the "war on drugs" is too high. Guardian
Oi, this is great news. Finally there will be real talk about drugs problem other than "war, war, war".

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Russian Play

As Putin sees it, that resolution was taken way beyond its stated purpose of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya — it also opened the door for a full-scale military intervention. Under the U.N. mandate, the U.S. and NATO began flying bombing raids against Gaddafi’s military convoys, which were then moving toward the rebel-held city of Benghazi with the express aim of “cleansing” its revolutionary populace. After fending off that assault, NATO air power continued to provide the rebels with a clear military advantage.

Within weeks, Gaddafi’s army was routed, his convoy was bombed from the air while fleeing the Libyan capital, and the dictator himself was captured hiding in a drain pipe in his hometown. A video of rebels beating, insulting and finally killing Gaddafi soon appeared on YouTube. Putin was furious over this turn of events — seeing it as a blatant violation of Libyan sovereignty and a betrayal of Russia’s willingness to trust the west’s intentions. He has not gotten over the slight. “What we really do not want is to allow the same mistake as with Libya,” Klimov says, “when we believed we were getting one thing and got something totally different.” Time
There won't be another "no fly zone" resolution coming out of UN Security Council regarding Syria. As I wrote before, the Libyan No Fly Zone was a full out air war against the Qaddafi at the time.

Russia wants Assad out but the regime to stay, possible reformed, but still within Russia's sphere of influence.  They are using the US playbook on Yemen on Syria (kick the dictator, replace it with somebody within the regime, change the regime within your influence).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

France triple dip recession

It shrank 0.2% in the first three months of the year. This is its third recession in 4 years.

In other news, the Netherlands and Czech Republic are also still in recession. Germany grew by 0.1% meanwhile.

You compare this sorry state of EU economy to the US that grew 2.5 percent in the first three months of the year. That's called night and day.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tesla gets 99 out of 100 ratins from Consumer Reports

The score of 99 means the Tesla (TSLA) Model S, a sedan that can seat as many as seven people, performed as well or better than any automobile the magazine has ever tested. The score is not unprecedented -- most recently, it was earned by the Lexus LS460 in 2009 -- but no car at any price has ever scored higher. CNN
Tesla is a full electric sports car. 

Struggle at the European Union

If anything, the euro crisis has only reinforced cultural stereotypes that other Europeans have about Germans and that Germans have about their fellow Europeans.

The prominent role Germany has played in Europe's response to the euro crisis has evoked decidedly mixed emotions. In six of the eight nations surveyed people see the Germans as the least compassionate people in Europe. And publics in five of the eight countries think Germans are the most arrogant.

In the wake of the strict austerity measures imposed in Greece, which many Greeks blame on Berlin, Greek enmity toward the Germans knows little bound. Greeks consider the Germans to be the least trustworthy, the most arrogant and the least compassionate.

At the same time, in every country, except Greece, people consider Germans to be the most trustworthy. This comports with the 2012 Pew Research finding that most other Europeans thought the Germans were the hardest working and the least corrupt of Europeans. Spiegel

One of the goal of the European Union is to foster cultural understanding between the people in the European countries but the ongoing economic crisis in Europe has brought more distrusts between them, especially between the Southern European countries and the wealthier Northern Europeans. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Syrian Intervention

This essay is an attempt to understand the policy options to be made for Syria. 

The Syrian Civil War has passed its two years mark and it is not ending soon. Up to 80,000 people have been killed in this conflict and millions are displaced. It is a terrible situation for the people of Syria.

The calls for military intervention by the West have grown these past few weeks as the killings produces more casualties.

The critical question is whether more muscular intervention by the West will make the situation better.

Up to this moment Syrian Civil War have seen military supply intervention from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait. Fighters from Iran and Hezbollah takes the side of the Assad regime and fighters from Iraq, Egypt and other Arab countries have responded for the call for Jihad there. Israel has taken some opportunistic bombing on behalf of its own interest in the country.


The civil war has forced over one million Syrians out of their country - travelling by buses and on foot to the neighboring countries such as Turkey (300K) to the North or Jordan (400K) to the South or Lebanon (200K) to the West.

Jordan and Lebanon are particularly vulnerable to the destabilizing effects of massive influx of refugees. Jordan is a small country with limited resources and Lebanon is a ethnic/ideological tinderbox of the Middle East. Hezbollah, a major Shiite faction in Lebanon has openly supported the Assad regime with fighters and in return they are being rewarded by military materials. The bombing of Syria by Israel are related to this issue.

Egypt also receives a large number of Syrian refugees (150K), especially those that have the financial means to make the long trip. You can hear Syrian Arabic being spoken in places in Cairo and there are many Syrian food places are opening as well, improving the gastronomic quotation of the city immensely.

The population of Syria is around 21 million people. That means over 20 millions of people are still living in the country under the constant threat of violence and dire economic situation.

One thing is clear, this civil war is not going to end anytime soon and its impacts are going to take years to heal and recover before the fabric of the country can be made whole again.

The Assad regime has proven to be resilient in the face of the rebellions in many parts of the country. The support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have managed to stave off immediate threats to its capital Damascus and make the West reluctant to intervene militarily to the cause of the rebel.

The Syrian army has an estimated 11,000 armored fighting vehicles and around 800 aircraft, the rebel has small weaponry and barely any heavy weapons. War is more than just bravery and skills, it is also about materials and logistics. Statistically you cannot expect to attack a main battle tank with your AK-47 and be victorious in the end.

No Fly Zone
The request for "No Fly Zone"  you are hearing in the media is misleading. The original No Fly Zone was established on Northern Iraq and Southern Iraq to protect the rebellious areas from being slaughtered by Saddam Hussein's air force.

What being asked is the Libyan style "No Fly Zone", which is a No Fly Zone in name only. What NATO did in Libya is both air supremacy and ground attack operations. They prevent the Libyan air force to take to the sky and bombs any tanks or armored vehicles that are threatening any rebel held city and positions.

An Iraqi style No Fly Zone in Syria would help the civilian populations in the rebel held territories but it does not prevent them from artillery. This nasty weapon have the range of 20KM and can level a section of a city in minutes and obliterates whatever living being inside the targeted area.

What the rebel needs is a mighty air force capable of rendering the Syrian Air Force useless and bomb the shit of Syrian army positions which includes bases and checkpoints.


In lieu of an air force, they need weapons capable of extracting heavy cost on Syrian Air Force such as shoulder held anti airplane missiles. They also need anti tank weapons capable of destroying Syrian army heavily armored vehicles. They need a lot of these weapons.

The problem is off course obvious. A shoulder anti air missile effective against a Syrian Air Force jet fight will also works against commercial airlines. You cannot control where the weapons you are distributing will end up. Forget about it. They cannot be controlled. Just pay attention to the destabilizing effects of the Libyan intervention to the surrounding regions. Weapons in Libya ends up in Mali which fueled the Tuareg rebellion that took over most of the country until the French ended the shenanigan a few months ago. There are many reports of foiled weapon smuggling from Libya to Egypt destined for the restive North Sinai.

Let's not even talk about motivation. These advanced and sophisticated weapons worth a lot of money. Any honest Syrian rebel will be very tempted to resold these weapons in order to feed their family, who wouldn't?

On the other hand, these heavy weapons are already arriving, albeit in much slower rate, by funding of Gulf states such as Qatar's and Saudi Arabia. We have seen the results in the downing of several Syrian army helicopters and jets. Regardless of a Western intervention, weapons and ammunition are arriving, especially towards Islamist rebel factions. These supplies might be enough to sustain the rebels' operation for a long time but not enough to turn the tide and reach a tipping point to a collapse of the Syrian regime. This points to a long and protracted civil war with ever increasing civilian casualties.

So make no mistakes, the Syrian war has already had a destabilizing effect to the Middle East in regards of weapons distribution regardless of Western intervention.  Weapons are getting into Syria right now and it will get out of Syria, uncontrollably, in the future.

Rebelling alone

No countries so far have intervened directly to the cause of rebels. Turkey has adamantly refused to be dragged in to the conflict. The  Sunni dominated countries with power militaries such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia have so far manage to only produce blusters and condemnation. The Gulf states have contributed money, which is crucial, to support the rebels' supplies but not much else beyond that. NATO have limited itself to 'non lethal' support such as communication equipment and body armors, which are useful, but still below what is needed to turn the tide.

What the rebels have though the number of people willing to fight and die for its cause, especially those that respond to the call of Jihad. Fighters from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and other parts of the world are piling into Syria to fight the regime.

The rebels do not have enough weapons and supplies but they have constant infusion of new fighters to replace killed fighters.

Decision time

There are three type of decisions can be made by the West at this point that will affect the turn of events in Syria:
  • Stay its current course of non military intervention. Let the civil war burn itself up and pray that some sort of stability will emerge from the ruin of the country. This is the most cost effective option. Most likely the Assad regime will survive the rebellion. 
  • Supply weapons. The civil war will escalate rapidly and the rebels will be able to inflict much more damage to the regime's forces. The civil war will probably take a while longer to end and there is a good chance that the Assad regime will be removed from the country.
  • Wage an air war against Assad's regime. The Assad regime will collapse somewhat quickly but the civil war will continue for a while longer as various factions fight out for the spoils of victor. Impose a regional peace keeping force based from Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the country to maintain order in the interim and back it by a strong regional mandate. It is important that the peace keeping force comes from the countries that speak the Arabic language.
Above options are off course simplistic but regardless of the course of actions to be chosen, the wound of the Syrian civil war will scar the country for decades.

Staying out the conflict and hoping that the civil war ends with a resolution soon can indeed be a valid policy option regardless of the optics.

Unless a coalition of Arab countries can be formed to supply both weapons and soldiers to maintain order post intervention, waging air war against Assad regime by the West is a terrible choice of action.

[Update 1]

However I incline to think that the rebels' cause is very much worth supporting and the Syrian regime has lost its right to rule the country. Supply them with necessary weapons and ammunition and reduce the gap of their military equipment within a short time. Let them to sort out what country they want to be themselves after the fall of the Assad regime. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Finally some price transparency on US health care system

This morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is announcing a groundbreaking initiative that will take a lot of the secrecy out of hospital billings.

Acting on the suggestion of her top data crunchers at the department’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Sebelius will release a data file that shows the list — or “chargemaster” — prices by all hospitals across the U.S. for the 100 most common inpatient treatment services in 2011. It then compares those prices with what Medicare actually paid hospitals for the same treatments — which was typically a fraction of the chargemaster prices. Time
One of the reason why health care is so fucking expensive in the US is that there is no price information between providers. A patient doesn't have any idea of what a procedure or treatment will cost until they are billed with it (regardless whether it is out of pocket expenses or paid by insurance).

A better pricing information across the country will cut the care costs in the US because now  consumers will better information on which provider and services they will choose for their health care needs.

Time magazine has been widely praised by its reporting on these pricing disparity and opaqueness between health care providers on their Magnum Opus The Bitter Pill.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A new Internet Hero



Meet the rescuer of kidnapped women. This interview is just awesome.

Monday, May 06, 2013

150 things that some smart people worry about


1. The proliferation of Chinese eugenics. – Geoffrey Miller, evolutionary psychologist.

2. Black swan events, and the fact that we continue to rely on models that have been proven fraudulent. – Nassem Nicholas Taleb

3. That we will be unable to defeat viruses by learning to push them beyond the error catastrophe threshold. – William McEwan, molecular biology researcher

4. That pseudoscience will gain ground. – Helena Cronin, author, philospher

5. That the age of accelerating technology will overwhelm us with opportunities to be worried. – Dan Sperber, social and cognitive scientist

6. Genuine apocalyptic events. The growing number of low-probability events that could lead to the total devastation of human society. – Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society

7. The decline in science coverage in newspapers. – Barbara Strauch, New York Times science editor

8. Exploding stars, the eventual collapse of the Sun, and the problems with the human id that prevent us from dealing with them. -- John Tooby, founder of the field of evolutionary psychology

9. That the internet is ruining writing. – David Gelernter, Yale computer scientist

10. That smart people--like those who contribute to Edge--won’t do politics. –Brian Eno, musician
(vice)

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Austerity Debacle

In 2010, economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff released a paper, "Growth in a Time of Debt." Their "main result is that...median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower." Countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 90 percent have a slightly negative average growth rate, in fact. (Next New Deal)
The most cited paper by policymakers for austerity has been exposed as completely flawed. They even have basic errors in the excel sheet they use to gather their data.

So what do Herndon-Ash-Pollin conclude? They find "the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent as [Reinhart-Rogoff claim]." [UPDATE: To clarify, they find 2.2 percent if they include all the years, weigh by number of years, and avoid the Excel error.] Going further into the data, they are unable to find a breakpoint where growth falls quickly and significantly.

Tax exodus game

Taxodus.net is an online game to challenge to find the best strategy to maximize your global tax avoidance strategy.

The cost of hand to mouth living

But it is not simply watching what they do or do not buy. These days it is increasingly scrutinising the micro-level details of pay and benefit cycles in every district in America. The reason? Before 2007, this executive said, consumer spending on food and drink was fairly stable during the month in most US cities. But since 2007, spending patterns have become extremely volatile. More and more consumers appear to be living hand-to-mouth, buying goods only when their pay checks, food stamps or benefit money arrive. And this change has not simply occurred in the poorest areas: even middle-class districts are prone to these swings. Hence the need to study local pay and benefit cycles. (FT)

Living paycheck to paycheck makes people vulnerable to surprises. 

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Kid Wisdom

I am subscribed to the The Listserve, a free list in which a person is granted the ability to write to the list once and for one day only. Today's entry is hilarious
Words of wisdom from kids (ages 10-14):

*Always wear socks
*Never let anyone take over your dreams
*Don't eat yellow snow (and if you find something brown on the ground, it's probably not chocolate)
*When people are nice to you, be nice back. It's like someone giving you a present and you giving one back.
*Life will be a lot easier if you mind your own business
*Never try to ride a shopping cart down a hill
*Don't be mouthy to your parents
*Pie makes everything better
*Go outside and do something with your life
*Keep calm; life goes on
*Mountains will crumble, oceans will freeze over, and whole cities will be destroyed if you are late for math class
*Never take a good friend for granted
*Never leave the empty milk carton in the fridge
*If you ever love two people, go with the second one because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen in love again
*You don't need to use two sheets of toilet paperc just because it's etiquette or fancy; use what get the job done (that also applies to relationships and life choices... but mostly toilet paper)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Sad Note

Craig has passed away after four years of fight against Melanoma. He wrote about finding out his diagnosis four years ago
Melanoma he said over my cell phone at 8:30am, along with the fact I needed to come in earlier than previously scheduled. “Huh” was the only passing thought, as I went back to work. It was month end close, and I had to play the role of an accountant again this month. I didn’t think about it again during the day. Craig Dawson
I had a chat with him after his news and we joked about him writing a memoir of beating Cancer and appearing on Oprah. I demanded that he gave me a shout out when that happens on national TV.

We were flatmate back in 2000 in New York City for a short while while working for AIESEC US. I remembered him coming to the office for the first day with a full accountant suit and he discovered that he was the only one doing so which made him look like a douchebag. We laughed about it then and I have come to appreciate his gregariousness and wicked sense of humor throughout the years until I left the US in 2006.

He is survived by his wife, Catrina  and son, Truman. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The massacre of Bangladeshi garment worker

Then on April 23, a problem arose. Workers on the third floor were stitching clothing when they were startled by a noise that sounded like an explosion. Cracks had appeared in the building. Workers rushed outside in terror.

By late morning, Mr. Rana’s representatives had brought in Abdur Razzaque Khan, an engineer. Taken to the third floor, Mr. Khan examined three support pillars, and became horrified at the cracks he found.

“I became scared,” Mr. Khan said. “It was not safe to stay inside this building.”

He rushed downstairs and told one of Mr. Rana’s administrators that the building needed to be closed immediately. But Mr. Rana was apparently not impressed; he was holding court with about a dozen local journalists.

“This is not a crack,” he said, according to Shamim Hossain, a local newspaper reporter. “The plaster on the wall is broken, nothing more. It is not a problem.”

But it was. The next morning, Rana Plaza collapsed. Mr. Rana managed to escape from his basement office, but was eventually discovered hiding near the Indian border. He was flown by helicopter to Dhaka and thrust before the news media, looking dazed and disheveled. NY Times
Mr. Rana was captured a few days ago trying to flee Bangladesh. He is responsible for at least 400 workers killed in the collapse of the factory building. If this guy does not get life imprisonment or death penalty, there is no justice in this world.

Escalated Involvement is coming

President Obama is preparing to send lethal weaponry to the Syrian opposition and has taken steps to assert more aggressive U.S. leadership among allies and partners seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, according to senior administration officials.

But Obama, who spoke by telephone with Putin on Monday and is sending Secretary of State John F. Kerry to Moscow in the coming days, is likely to make a final decision on the supply of arms to the opposition within weeks, before a scheduled meeting with Putin in June, the officials said. Washington Post