The World This Week, March 22, 2009

[videos forthcoming]

US NEWS

People thieving the electrons.

Obama: Economy hurts.  Duh.

Obama Budget Strategy raises questions.

New home construction gets a lift (month-to-month).

Small business help on the way.

Fed prints money like mad.

A couple economists agree that printing money is a good idea…today.

China wants a new global currency standard.

Palin to preach to choir.

McCain Twitterview a joke, a stilted lagging joke.

Feel the outrage….

….oh wait, we did that?

Probe into AIG bonuses launched.

Gassley suggest suicide for AIG execs, then back off to resignation and public flogging.

Laid off worked parades in front of AIG mansion.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan moves closer to rule of law.

Iraqi government wants heads to roll.

Dead Sea Scrolls authors existence questioned.

Georgia v. stem cells.

Pope v. witchcraft and tribalism.

Everyone of the Book (Christian, Muslim, Jew) vs teh Gays.

Stop-Loss phasing out.

Obama talks to Iran.

Iran wants more than talk.

SCIENCE/TECH

The Frogopalypse.

Veggie garden makes a return to White House lawn.

Obama gets schooled on Special Olympics and bowling.  NOTE: Bowling not a particularly intellectual pursuit.

The Great Unkowns and the Unknowables.

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International and Interstellar, News Update

Here’s the “remainder” for the week.  Just a short blurb and be done with it.

No fence yet for W from Big D.

Former President George W. Bush is officially living in Dallas, as our own Lori Stahl reports.

But a security gate scheduled to be erected on Daria Drive near in Bush’s Preston Hollow home on cul-de-sac Daria Place has yet to go up on the public street.

In fact, Dallas officials say, Bush’s camp has yet to submit gate plans to City Hall’s public works and transportation department — a necessary step before its installation.

Hmmm…him without a gate and me with all these old shoes…what to do…what to do…

Fix the Electric Box. Currently I’m stuck on 14, but should get it eventually.

The Earth as the Moon. Have you ever been on a satellite and seen the Earth eclipse the Sun?  Now you have, thanks Japan!  [peep the video…yes…the Sun is that bright.]

The Galaxy may be full of “Earths”.

The focus of the mission is finding planets in a star’s habitable zone, an orbit that would ensure temperatures in which life could exist. Video Watch a NASA scientist explain the search for habitable planets »

Boss, who serves on the Kepler Science Council, said scientists should know by 2013 — the end of Kepler’s mission — whether life in the universe could be widespread.

Finding intelligent life is a very different matter. For all the speculation about the possibility of other civilizations in the universe, the question remains: If the rise of life on Earth isn’t unique and aliens are common, why haven’t they shown up or contacted us? The contradiction was famously summed up by the physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950 in what became known as the Fermi paradox: “Where is everybody?”

The answer may be the vastness of time and space, scientists explained.

“Civilizations come and go,” Boss said. “Chances are, if you do happen to find a planet which is going to have intelligent life, it’s not going to be in [the same] phase of us. It may have formed a billion years ago, or maybe it’s not going to form for another billion years.”

Luckily, there’s more “people” on this planet than you can ever meet and more organism than you can ever study, so we’re pretty much set as it is.

Heading over the Pakistan…it’s getting shaky.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld bans on former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, from elected office.

Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party holds power in Punjab province. His brother is chief minister but must now step down.

Nawaz Sharif accused President Asif Ali Zardari of being behind the ban.

Mr Sharif said it was because he would not back down in his campaign to have judges sacked by ex-president Pervez Musharraf reinstated.

The hard part about this one is that it is the new judges that made the ruling.  D’oh!

What to do?

Riot!!!

Thousands of supporters of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif protested in Pakistan Thursday, angered over a court decision banning him and his brother from elected office.

Sharif denounced the Supreme Court ruling, blamed President Ali Asif Zardari, and called for more protests at a rally near the eastern city of Lahore in Punjab province. Around 20 lawmakers gathered outside the Punjab provincial assembly were detained.

Smaller protests also erupted in the capital, Islamabad, where police fired tear gas at a mob trying to block the highway to Punjab province.

[full story]

Pakistan is on the brink.  Believe it.

Japan is sending the ninja after the pirates. You may have thought we put all the ninja to bed during WWII, which we did.  But ninja are tougher than that.

An anti-piracy bill that the government plans to submit to the Diet early next month will enable the use of force by Japan in deterring pirate activities, it has emerged.

The move is expected to spark controversy as the use of force is prohibited under the Constitution. The Self-Defense Forces’ use of force during overseas deployment has been limited to legitimate self-defense and averting imminent danger.

Under the bill, Japanese vessels and foreign vessels will be protected under the anti-pirate measures. Coast guard officials will play a major role in cracking down on pirate activities, and the SDF will only assist them in cases that are beyond the control of the coast guard.

The government seeks to apply Article 7 of the law governing policemen in the line of duty, which enables police officers to use force in order to attack suspects in heinous crimes when they resist or try to flee. By applying the article of the law, the officials to be dispatched for anti-pirate activities will be allowed to use force against pirate ships that refuse orders to stop.

Gotta love loopholes (in bold).

Japan’s PM is also in a bit of hot water for (admitting to) losing to the Americans.

Prime Minister Taro Aso will not retract his remarks that World War II started with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, it has emerged.

The government decided in a Tuesday Cabinet meeting not to correct remarks that Aso made in a video interview for the Dec. 4, 2008 edition of the Aso Cabinet’s weekly e-mail magazine.

In the interview, Aso remarked: “World War II began with the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, but perhaps no one at that time could have imagined that we would have the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty a decade later.”

Sure, WWII actually started with Hilter invading Poland in Europe and all that, but for us and the Japs, the Day of Infamy was the real start of Global Conflict: The Sequel.

Mass layoffs in January.

WASHINGTON – Employers took a large ax to their payrolls in January, the government said Wednesday, and the cuts are likely to get worse over the next few months.

The Labor Department reported that mass layoffs, or job cuts of 50 or more by a single employer, increased to 2,227 in January, up almost 50 percent from the same month last year. More than 235,000 workers were fired in last month’s cuts.

There is a ticking time bomb here, and it’s when these workers unemployment runs out.  If they can’t find jobs, any jobs, by then…things get nasty…quickly.

Oh, and I wanted to do something about this story. It’s actually a really big story…something I need to read a bit more about.  I’ve lived through some of it personally, and investigated professionally (yea…I know this one) another bit of it.  Need to take some time to tell the story correctly.  Maybe this weekend, but it’s a big part of Chapter 11 in my book.  And yes, I’m probably going to quote that article in the my chapter.  It came along right when I wanted it, curiously enough.

And there’s another one making the rounds about a new diet study that says, basically, you are energy and if you eat more energy than you burn, you will get fatter.  If you eat less, you will lose weight, which is painful.  Story at 11.

Woot! 10K Views and Did You Know 2008 (and 2007)

So my first, and worst, Fallout 3 video just passed 10,000 views on ye olde YouTube.  I know that’s not much for some of the popular videos, but it’s a decent enough milestone for a month or so.

In personal book news, we’re past 30 pages and chapter 3 is a slight bit of research away from completion.

In order to keep you distracted and prime you a bit for my book, take a look at the world in 2008 (and 2007).  This is the world I am talking to, and the one I’m writing about.  This is the world I was made for.

(oh…and sexy new WordPress, good work guys and gals).  I think they got the news that I had switched applications...and upped the ante.

Did You Know 2008

Did You Know 2007

BTW, next year you guys need to expand beyond China, India and the U.S.   One of the fun little tidbits I like to mention is that there are more Muslims in India than Americans on the planet.  Hmm, I guess that is still focused on India.  As a quick news note here (and I know I’m not supposed to be blogging so this will be brief), while what I just said is true, it was some nuts fighting over Paradise (Kashmir) that pulled the latest bullshit.  They were most likely from Pakistan, but probably had extended family in India.  Recall, India and Pakistan became two seperate countries about the same time the United States became one (World War II through the Civil Rights Era).  They’ve still got a lot of stuff to work out.  As long as we can avoid a war that kills hundreds of millions, we can sadly call it a win.

Robots and Pirates in the News (Ninja absent…but they’re Ninjas…so…)

There have been major news stories in the last couple of weeks involving robots and pirates making war.  The ninjas are staying out of the spotlight, but as that is their nature, this shouldn’t be noted as evidence that they aren’t very busy.

First up, the pirates…

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) — Pirates who hijacked a crude oil tanker off the coast of Kenya are approaching a Somali port, the U.S. Navy says.

The Sirius Star — a crude “super tanker” flagged in Liberia and owned by the Saudi Arabian-based Saudi Aramco company — was attacked on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya.

The crew of 25, including British, Croatian, Polish, Filipino and Saudi nationals, are reported to be safe.

U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet Cmdr. Jane Campbell said the super tanker weighs more than 300,000 metric tons and “is more than three times the size of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.”

Oil industry insiders say a tanker of this size can carry up to 2 million barrels of oil, and the ship’s operator, Dubai-based Vela International Marine Ltd, says it is fully laden.

[full story]

That piracy has been on the rise off Africa’s east coast is nothing new.  The general lawlessness of the area contributes to, well, lawlessness, which is an environment in which the pirate thrives.

One of the problems with this piracy issues is that people (governments and private companies) have been giving into pirate ransom demands to release ships and crew.  This then funds the pirates to attack more and bigger ships.  That super tanker mentioned above has over $100,000,000 worth of oil on it, and enough to cause a major environmental problem  (the Exxon Valdex spilled about 10 million barrels, this tanker has about 2 million…but cleanup would be severely problematic, see: pirates).

Not to be outdone, the Robots have also been making news around the world…

Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador in Islamabad to protest at a US missile attack deep inside Pakistani territory on Wednesday that killed five people.

The attack, in Bannu district, killed five local militants, officials say.

Previous drone attacks have been in the strip of territory along the Afghan border known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), a region where huge areas are under the control of militants rather than the central government.

But Bannu is in the North West Frontier Province where the government claims far more control.

“The American ambassador has been called to the Foreign Office to lodge a protest over the missile attack in Bannu,” a foreign ministry official told Reuters news agency.

The US embassy said that ambassador Anne Patterson would relay Pakistan’s concerns to Washington.

[full article]

Some intersting stuff there with the robots.  The U.S. has been using these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) or “flying robots” to take the fight to the enemy in places where it is quite difficult for leg-bearing humans to wander.

The question of using robots to fights one’s battles (which goes against something of the “warrior spirit”) is going to be an exercise left to the reader, but I can’t help but look at the news stories of the week and have the immediate reaction of…

…aim the robots at the pirates. 

Trust me, you want to get this whole thing resolved before the ninja make an appearance…which they won’t…poeple will just start dying.

With that truth in mind, you can see how the ninjas actually are in effect.  They’ve been a big part of the “Surge” in Iraq.  You don’t hear about exactly what they’ve done, and you won’t for years and years, but they’ve been very, very busy. 

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward.

The program — which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb — must remain secret for now or it would “get people killed,” Woodward said Monday on CNN’s Larry King Live.

“It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have,” Woodward said.

In “The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008,” Woodward disclosed the existence of secret operational capabilities developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent leaders.

National security adviser Stephen Hadley, in a written statement reacting to Woodward’s book, acknowledged the new strategy.

[full story]

And there you have it.

The absolute latest in robot, pirate, and ninja news.

Wondering About Waziristan

A US strike on a Pakistani village near the Afghan border has killed at least nine people including suspected foreign militants, Pakistani sources say.

Initial reports said at least 20 people had died when an unmanned aircraft (drone) fired on the village in North Waziristan region.

But officials later talked of between nine and 12 deaths.

The US military has not confirmed any drone attacks and a Pakistani spokesman said there had been no intrusion.

North Waziristan is a stronghold of Islamic militants, including the Taleban and al-Qaeda, which US and other international troops are fighting in Afghanistan.

via BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | ‘US strike’ hits Pakistan village.

Many people, one of whom isn’t John Mcain, don’t know where Waziristan is. As you can see from the map under the above link, it’s a part of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border “tribal areas”.

Also interesting about it is, well, that’s where the GWoT is currently happening.

This came up in the second Presidential debate last night, with McCain making a point about strikes in Waziristan (and other pseudo-anonymous regions). His point wasn’t that such strikes shouldn’t happen (he’s all for them), his point was that Obama was naive for saying that such strikes might happen if Pakistan doesn’t do them for us.

I.e. it was a tactical communication point, not a strategy point.

The facts on the ground reveal that this particular Rubicon has already been crossed. Arguing about whether or not we are going to have had talked about doing it is silly (yes, I think I conjugated that correctly).

While the big stick is swinging, no one can hear the soft voice.

The World This Week by Wah : September 14, 2008

Here is part 1 (and 1.1)  and 2 of last weeks roundup. Below you will find the links for each story mentioned.

Part 1.1

Part 1.2

Part 2

Read more for story links and details…

Part 1:

Executive Experience in Alaska

Info-Graphic Convention Coverage

Military Industrial Complex Shuts Down Olbermann and Matthews on MSNBC (owned by GE)

Bloons Tower Defense 3

Pot Kills Staph

A bit more on Pakistan

Another Upside of Global Warming

Russia, Georgia, Southpark

Tigh Visits Walter Reed

Game Review : PC : Spore 

Part 1.1:

Water Bears May Be Fruit of All Life

Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the world yet?

Part 2:

A Southpark Metaphor For McCain’s Speech

Palin to Right of Republicans on Climate Change

Sarah Palin is to Harriet Miers…

John McCain’s Funny Joke

A Second Theory as to Why John McCain Tapped Sarah Palin

Oh Yeah, and Obama Gave Some Speech

The John McCain “I’m a Victim” Express

A Simple Guide to Biased Reporting (re: Lipstick bullshit and Bonney Kapp)

On Joe Biden : 20 Years Ago

Anderson Cooper : 360 Degrees Of Suck

Lipstick on an Economy

McCain Makes New Pledge to American People

Wall Street Journal Joins News Censorship Game

What Talking About Issue Looks Like (Joe Biden)

“You can actually see Russia from Alaska” – Sarah Palin on her “international experience”

NOTES: A couple quick notes…I have another 20 minute or so of suff. Because of the time limits on YouTube (and Google doesn’t seem to be liking me) I think I’m going to shoot for a 20 minute limit next week. This was more of a proof-of-concept. Let me know what you think. If you absolutely have to see the rest, let me know and I’ll throw it up.   I should also have a much quicker turnaround next week, as my editing skillz just about doubled this last week.

A bit more on Pakistan

Pakistan has reportedly blocked a major fuel supply route for Western forces in Afghanistan in response to a raid by US forces in northwest Pakistan earlier this week, the defence minister said.

US forces attacked suspected fighter groups inside Pakistani territory on Wednesday, killing 20 people including women and children, Pakistani officials said, drawing a furious response from the Pakistani government.

Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Pakistan’s defence minister, said on Saturday: “We have told them that we will take action and we have already taken action today.

“We have stopped the supply of oil and this will tell how serious we are,” he told Pakistan’s Dawn Television.

Al Jazeera English – CENTRAL/S. ASIA – Pakistan blocks fuel to US forces.

This confirms that things are getting dicey in South Asia. I don’t think I posted about it, but my normal nom-de-net is “wah”.  So I was a bit struck when Wah, Pakistan got smacked a couple weeks back.

At least 63 people have been killed and dozens injured in twin suicide bombings outside Pakistan’s main munitions factory in the town of Wah, police say.

The attack is the deadliest on a military site in Pakistan’s history.

Police say one man is in custody for the attack, which occurred some 30km (18 miles) north-west of Islamabad.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taleban said they had carried out the attacks, which he said were a response to army violence in the country’s north-west.

[full story]

This was significant because Wah is where Pakistan, most likely, keeps their nuclear bombs and stuff.

It’s their techology and military center, and their words, to quote Civilization, are “BACKED WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS!”.

It Ain’t Iraq That’s the Danger

VOA News – CIA Chief Says Al-Qaida Found Safe Haven in Pakistan  

The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency says al-Qaida has established a safe haven in the tribal areas near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that it presents a “clear and present danger” to the West. VOA’s Kent Klein reports from Washington.

CIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden (File)
CIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden (File)

The CIA Director, Air Force General Michael Hayden, says if there were another terrorist attack against the United States, it would almost certainly originate from that region.

“What I can tell you about is the situation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which presents a clear and present danger to Afghanistan, to Pakistan, and to the West in general and to the United States in particular,” said Michael Hayden.

General Hayden, interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press, said al-Qaida has been using the advantage of that safe haven to train operatives who “look Western.”

BTW, “Clear and Present Danger” is a code word for start bombing now, or at least it leaves open that option.   Bush is bot-like in his devotion to his mangling of the Middle East, and McCain doesn’t seem to remember who it was that had the temerity to strike.  It wasn’t Huessein.  And it didn’t come from Iraq.

Also…when did Red Coleman start running the CIA?

General Hayden would neither confirm nor deny a recent US newspaper report that the United States is increasing attacks against al-Qaida suspects in the border region in anticipation that President Musharraf’s power will diminish soon. But he said the United States has not had a better partner in the war against terror than the Pakistani government.

And that is exactly why Musharraf lost the election.  And why it’s going so poorly.   Musharraf’s crackdowns, which the U.S. loves, cost him a lot of popular support.   Musharraf’s support for the U.S., which the U.S. loves, cost him a ton of popular support.  Then the Bhutto bombing solidified the opposition and then you got this.