25.9.11

Pakistan admits to Haqqani crime clan connection.

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-09-23/asia/world_asia_pakistan-haqqani-network_1_haqqani-network-isi-directorate-of-inter-services-intelligence?_s=PM:ASIA

Jalaluddin Haqqani
Major General Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, acknowledged the service had contacts with the Haqqanis.

"Any intelligence agency would like to maintain contact with whatever opposition group, whatever terrorist organization ... for some positive outcome," he told CNN in a telephone interview.
However, those contacts do not mean that the ISI supports or endorses the organization, he added.
"If someone is blaming us [as] the only country maintaining contacts with the Haqqanis, there are others, too," Abbas said. There is a huge difference between maintaining contacts with such a group to facilitate peace and supporting it against an ally, he said.
Earlier Friday, Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said that "Admiral Mullen knows full well which countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive."
My bolding. In related news, the Haqqani network is not yet on the State Department list of terror organizations. That's a few days after they sent guys from Pakistan, with Pakistani clothing and juice packets and supplies and cell phones with repeated phone calls to Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on them - to the middle of Kabul where they killed a lone security guard and holed up in the top of a high-rise under construction. From where they could launch RPGs and shoot up the place, killing a bunch of innocent Muslims.

More details see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/world/asia/brutal-haqqani-clan-bedevils-united-states-in-afghanistan.html?_r=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jalaluddin_Haqqani

23.9.11

Suicide bomb hidden in turban kills former Afghan President.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/karzai-fake-audio-recording-led-to-afghan-leaders-slaying/2011/09/22/gIQAtvuqnK_story.html
KABUL — The suicide bomber who killed the Afghan leader responsible for brokering a deal with insurgents gained access to him after delivering an audio recording that the assassin said contained a message from Taliban leaders, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday.
The message was convincing enough that top officials, including Karzai, urgedBurhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president, to return to Kabul from a trip abroad because the supposed Taliban envoy said he had a second, important audio recording that could be delivered only to Rabbani.

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/20/u-s-embassy-staff-in-kabul-ordered-to-take-cover/?hpt=hp_t1
The suicide bomber who killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani and wounded one of Rabbani's top advisers on Tuesday had hidden the explosive device in his turban, Kabul police spokesman Hasmat Stanikzai has confirmed.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/09/2011920124955977877.html
  
Mohammad Zaher, Kabul's criminal investigations chief, said two men "negotiating with Rabbani on behalf of the Taliban" arrived at his house on Tuesday, one with explosives hidden in his turban.
"He approached Rabbani and detonated his explosives. Rabbani was martyred and four others including Masoom Stanekzai [his deputy] were injured".
Fazel Karim Aymaq, a member of the High Peace Council,  said the men claimed to have come with "special messages" from the Taliban and were thought to be "very trusted."
When Rabbani appeared, the man shook the former president's hand and bowed in a sign of respect, Aymaq said. "Then his turban exploded.''
The blast broke windows in Rabbani's home and shook nearby houses.

 This is the foundation of security: Trust no-one. Believe in nothing that anyone tells you, until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your religious or cultural head covering is not sacred. Your religious or cultural clothing is not sacred, whether it's worn by a woman or a man doesn't matter.

People hide explosives in their underwear, in their body cavities, in their hats, in their shoes and force women to smuggle weapons under their dress, knowing that it's a cultural taboo in many places to search women's bodies. Or they just dress as women themselves to escape search and detection and know that no-one will question why a woman would want to hide her face in many parts of the world.

This has to stop, and it will, eventually. I just wonder how many more dead victims we'll have to deal with to get there. I'm guessing internet and news & information saturation will have to complete first before people learn how stupid it is to let people through a security check without checking them, just because they happen to wear a certain style of head-covering or they happen to be women.

22.9.11

Kind of a big deal. Universe's speed limit broken.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/22/us-science-light-idUSTRE78L4FH20110922

60 nanoseconds faster than the neutrinos should have taken to travel from 730km away.
A total of 15,000 beams of neutrinos -- tiny particles that pervade the cosmos -- were fired over a period of 3 years from CERN toward Gran Sasso 730 (500 miles) km away, where they were picked up by giant detectors.
Light would have covered the distance in around 2.4 thousandths of a second, but the neutrinos took 60 nanoseconds -- or 60 billionths of a second -- less than light beams would have taken.
That's a big deal. The "Standard Model" just took a big hit. Breaking the speed of light is just not supposed to happen. Why it did and how it works might take years or decades or centuries to figure out.

Good luck, ladies and gentlemen.

Bad decisions, bad politics - veto at the UN.

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=239054


We're about to have a really bad veto go into effect at the UN in the next few days.
Following the tense meeting, a PA official joked: “Obama has obviously joined the Zionist movement.”

MK Ahmed Tibi, who is accompanying the PA delegation, condemned Obama’s position as “immoral.” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official, accused the US Administration of applying “double standards” in dealing with the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Obama has not joined the Zionist movement more than any recent President of the US has. Is there a double standard? Hell yes. Defensible borders for Israel but not for its neighbours. A right to statehood for Israel irrespective of the wishes of the native population in that area, or the other states nearby - but no such right for Palestine unless Israeli politicians approve, and some of them (Shas, etc) are not very nice people. Not quite terrorists like Hamas, but advocating aggressive settlement of West Bank and Gaza and demonizing Arabs and Moslems - who do quite well at making themselves look bad all on their own, thankyouverymuch.


Supporting Israel at all cost, with blank checks, has become a static pillar to which any politician that wants to get elected in the US must cling. No person neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or any person favouring the Palestinian/Arab/Moslem side is going to get elected anytime soon to powerful positions in the US federal government. The Arabs and the Palestinians and the Moslems in America have done an absolutely horrible job at organizing themselves, lobbying and presenting a united front in the battle for money and votes in the American political system. The Jewish diaspora has done quite well in comparison.


Plus the Jewish faith is quite connected to the Christian faith. And Jewish people are usually White and kind of look like "normal" people. Arabs and Moslems - not so much. Kind of a bit more alien.


This isn't a problem with Obama - this is a problem with American political realities. That's about to shoot our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia right in the foot. The world is about to get just a tiny little bit worse when that veto drops. Not a lot, but a little. It'll be a little easier to hate America. It'll be a little easier to make us look like the Evil Empire.


We're on the wrong side of history here. We're supporting the occupiers and the settlements and the rampant annexation of land that the Wall and the settlements have become. We've signed blank checks to solidify "realities on the ground" that should have never happened in the first place.


Or maybe the Palestinians will come to their senses and realize that their own quasi-terrorist corrupt leadership under Arafat, completely corrupt wholly-terrorist leadership under Hamas and just plain sort-of corrupt and inefficient under Abbas - is a whole lot worse than just asking for Israeli citizenship and total annexation would be. But that won't happen. The Palestinians are too proud and too stupid to realize that the Israeli model of governance and organization is vastly superior to their own, even with the understanding that any Arab Moslem with an Israeli passport is a second-class citizen.


But maybe there's hope for movement after all:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ggOJx5c0dzl2AIasUDL5fmTJ5TLQ?docId=f889515e61b7428ab7d8f10f1a80bcc1



Israel has complained that the true aim of the Palestinians' U.N. bid is to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state — a charge Abbas has denied.
(Note: isolating the Jewish state isn't really necessary - old Bibi and Shas have done very well in that department all on their own. You caused the settlements. You caused the state of occupation - well, long-term - the idiot Arabs caused most of the wars.) 

Netanyahu — a longtime hard-liner who reluctantly accepted the idea of a Palestinian state last year — called again this week for direct talks. However, he has rejected the Palestinian demand that all settlement construction be halted while talks on the future of the territories are held. Netanyahu has also said Israel will keep east Jerusalem and significant chunks of the West Bank, citing concerns that any territory Israel relinquishes might be used to launch attacks on the Jewish state.
While Netanyahu is enjoying Washington's backing at the U.N., he may soon face increased pressure from the U.S. and Europe to accept terms for negotiations that are acceptable to the Palestinians, said Moty Cristal, a former Israeli negotiator.
"The strategic goal of the Palestinians (at the U.N.) was to bring Israel to the negotiating table in a much weaker position," Cristal said. "They will to some extent achieve this goal. Europe and the U.S. will say (to Israel), 'we supported you in the U.N., therefore the payoff will be a clear negotiating process which will yield results.'"
Or maybe Abbas will just dissolve the PA and hand the keys over to the Israeli Defense Force. Honestly, if that were to happen and the idiots would stop attacking and provoking reprisals for a while - the average Palestinian worker/citizen/student would be ten times better off. Jobs, education, travel, opportunities, all that. Palestinian political culture is bankrupt - even without taking Hamas and the nuthead religious fanatics into account. But that doesn't mean they don't technically deserve the right to fuck up their political entity-state all on their own, if they so choose.


EDIT:

I'm pro-Israel. I think Israel is a shining light in the darkness of a very corrupt, backward, and fanatically religious Middle East.

I'm pro-Israel with 1967 borders and treating their neighbours with respect and letting refugees back to live where they used to live, and removing the settlers that they put in on their neighbours' territory.

I'm pro-Israel with them joining the nuclear Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Apparently the above opinions make me an Anti-Semite and anti-Israeli to many people. *shrug*

18.9.11

US, Israel on the wrong side of history re: Palestine state & UN votes.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/18/ap/congress/main20107852.shtml

Israel has no more and no less of a right to exist than any other state. The USA, for example, was founded on the notion that snotty arrogant Europeans like me could just walk in and rob the natives blind and take their land. Or force them onto reservations and/or just plain kill them. Or wait til they revolt and then kill them.

Israel has a right to defend itself. It does not have the right to invade Lebanon or Gaza whenever it feels like. It has a right to defensible borders.

So do its neighbours. The Palestinian Arabs have just as much of a right to defensible borders, to not be ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homes, to not be contained within walls and fences set up to cater to religiously/financially motivated settlers.

The US, by threatening to veto a request for Palestine's membership as a full state in the UN - is on the wrong side of history here. This veto will just make things worse - encourage more blank-check-writing, encourage more hatred of the "Evil Empire" that Israel and its diehard extremist US backers set us all up to look like. You're making the recruiting efforts of terrorists and militant fanatics way too easy.

1967 borders. You got the settlers into the West Bank, you can get them out. You drove the refugees away from their property inside what is now Israel - you can let them back. If you want to hold on to settlements, go right ahead - subject to negotiations and Palestinian compensation via land or money or whatever.

If you think those borders are indefensible, I sympathize. I also sympathize with Palestinian desires for their state to have defensible borders.

Let's get on the right side of history and support the Arab Spring here, and people's desire for self-determination and freedom from tyranny.

That said, Israel is still a shining light in the darkness of the Middle East. Minorities inside Israel proper are more protected than anywhere else in the Middle East. The continuing occupation and control of non-Jewish religion/ethnicity in West Bank and Gaza notwithstanding.

13.9.11

"The Daily Show Remembers 9/13/2001: Remembering The Day We Forgot The Lessons Of The Day We Swore We Would Always Remember"



Witches, harpies.
Abortionists, pagans, gays, lesbians, secularists = terrorists.
Ayatollah Khomeini types?
"Americans, sustained by their faith, in the wrongness of other people's faith."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/7606145/Extramarital-sex-causes-more-earthquakes-Iranian-cleric-claims.html

Attractive women who snub traditional Islamic clothing to instead wear fashionable clothes and apply heavy make-up, caused youths in the country to “go astray” and have affairs, Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi said.
The hard-line cleric said as a result the country, bounded by several fault lines, experienced more “calamities” such as earthquakes, the reformist Aftab-e Yazd newspaper reported him saying.
"Calamities are the result of people's deeds.
“We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/21/AR2010042102998.html

Iran's Shiite clerics predict deadly quake as punishment from God

TEHRAN -- Iran's influential Shiite clerics have a warning: The country's sprawling capital is about to be hit by a killer earthquake. Millions will perish.

The reason for the coming apocalypse, the clerics say, is simple: Vice has spread through Tehran, and God intends to punish the sinners.
"Go on the streets and repent for your sins," Ayatollah Aziz Khoshvaqt, one of the country's highest clerics, told worshipers during a recent sermon in northern Tehran. "A holy torment is upon us. Leave town."
http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boobquake


His hypothesis was tested, found wanting.

11.9.11

Paul Simon - The Sound of Silence - 9/11 Ground Zero




Osama bin Laden is dead. Iraq is and was a mess but who knows what would have happened with Saddam still in charge. Afghanistan is mired in war and corruption and fanatical religious intolerance and drugs, but that's more due to a bankrupt culture, tribal relationships, lack of ethics and religion than anything else. Opium fields everywhere.

Pakistan is slightly less of a mess, maybe - there's an inevitability to the fact that people with decent access to the internet won't eventually understand that sending your sons to religious schools that teach hatred and intolerance and keeping your daughters away from education can't result in good things. But the Pakistani people have yet to get going on the whole uniformly paying taxes thing, a weak central government can't even enforce the law in the tribal areas - much less pull the people there out of the Dark Ages of religious fanaticism and tribal corruption.

Sure, things in the Middle East are still a mess but it's better than a year ago. Tyrants will fall. The internet will eventually lead to women in Saudi Arabia being allowed to drive and vote, and LGBT people everywhere being allowed to live, if still be discriminated against. Corruption will eventually fade away over the decades.

141 killed, 4 mln homeless - Opportunity to improve US image in Pakistan.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-09/11/c_131132686.htm
ISLAMABAD, Sept.11 (Xinhua) -- At least 141 people have died and four million people have become homeless in the recent rains and floods that have hit the southern part of Pakistan since August, reported local TV channel Express on Sunday.


  • A few million dollars of food & sturdy shelters.
  • Tons of journalists and reporters from both inside and outside Pakistan.
  • Make sure the idiots who destroy the supplies due to them being from the US are properly documented and their images/names are freely available on Pakistani blogs and newspaper websites.


A few million to buy goodwill in Pakistan isn't much compared to the trillions spent trying to kill people and nation-build in Afghanistan - yet could conceivably do us all a massive favour in the long run.

But - it has to be publicized in perceived-neutral or domestically trusted news sources - i.e. the conspiracy theorist blogs, Al-Jazeera etc.

A scathing, sarcastic news piece about ignorant idiots destroying desperately needed food and supplies just because it happens to have "A Gift from the people of the USA" sticker on it - when it's actually "Made in China" would do wonders if it got enough exposure.

8.9.11

Fishing subsidies. Good, bad or just plain evil?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/scientists-call-for-end-to-deep-sea-fishing/2011/08/30/gIQApPJc7J_story.html

To some extent, people are happy to blow things out of proportion for their own purposes. But there's also a tragedy of the commons in effect - as well as a self-defeating industry practice in which fleets from many different regulatory bodies (i.e., countries) compete to innovate and get to the stocks before they're depleted. That will eventually kick the industry hard enough in the *** (i.e., the wallet) to get people to sit up and take notice.

But we're definitely at the stage where technology and massive scale economies in industrial fishing has developed to the point where once an economically advantageous mode of operations is identified and put into practice, the lasting damage can be done in a few years. Putting that into a "sustainable harvest" mode is a massively problematic issue of international cooperation, difficult at the best of times.

“What they’re doing out there is more like mining than fishing,” said Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
Fishing subsidies help sustain this practice, according to Rashid Sumaila, the paper’s other author, who directs the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre. He said high-seas trawlers around the world receive roughly $162 million each year in government handouts, which amounts to a quarter of the value of the fleets’ catch.
“That is what is keeping most of them in business,” Sumaila said.
Bottom-trawling can crush deep-sea corals, which can live for as long as 4,000 years, the scientists noted. Some fish species of the deep live for more than a century, and while they can spawn many eggs, there can be several years in which juveniles fail to make it into adulthood.
Orange roughy, which Australia declared a threatened species in 2006, take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and live up to 149 years. The leafscale gulper shark, one of several deep-water sharks targeted for its liver oil, “matures late, has only 5-8 pups per year and lives to be 70 years old,” the authors write.
Here's to hoping the international fishing industries will eventually figure out that they need their governments to get together and hash this out somehow so that new developments and hitting up previously ignored fish stocks will not work for a few years and then have to shut down due to lack of fish.

Don't forget that the money for subsidies comes out the taxpayers' pockets. I'm guessing you pay taxes. You pay for this ****. And there's a bunch of special-interest lobbyists laughing all the way to the bank as they fund re-election campaigns in order to get favourable legislation.

Theft. Legalized and called preservation of <insert country> values, or "creating jobs" or similar doublespeak.

Mmmm... more efficient ways to build protein for human consumption. Insects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insects_as_food#Advantages
Insects generally have a higher food conversion efficiency than more traditional meats, measured as efficiency of conversion of ingested food, orECI.[29] While many insects can have an energy input to protein output ratio of around 4:1, raised livestock has a ratio closer to 54:1.[30] 
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficiency_of_conversion

6.9.11

Small crocodile.



I don't have much against keeping animals in captivity, generally speaking. I do have something against causing unnecessary suffering and pain to animals, for example the way we catch dolphins to send to aquariums all over the world - aquariums that are usually very small, in fact I'd have to say probably every single aquarium in the world is too small for an orca or a dolphin or a whale to have even a remote chance at a normal-ish development and life-cycle. That doesn't mean that some species shouldn't be kept in captivity in order to keep them from disappearing, though. Species survival trumps humane concerns, imho. At least til we get a reliable way to resurrect individual species from the dead. Go Japan - the only country with enough resources, smart and crazy scientists and just plain crazy everything to have a decent chance at making that happen in my lifetime. I want to see a real, live Woolly Mammoth, dammit!

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cove_(film)
http://www.thecovemovie.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin_drive_hunting

If you need to kill an animal for food or for its skin or whatever, don't cut its throat and leave it to die in agony and anxiety. Same with humans. Just get the killing over with simply, quickly and efficiently - then go about your business. No need to be rude about it.

I also have nothing against farmers and poor villagers protecting themselves and their livestock from predators - to an extent. If you start eradicating wolves in France and crocodiles around the Philippines then you're kind of going too far.

We supposedly have about 8.7 million different species on the planet. Homo sapiens is just one of them. Sure we're the most powerful. Sure we're the only one so far that's developed the capacity to annihilate all life on planet (hmmm, would cockroaches or bacteria on the ocean floor survive?). But any one of those could have the cure for cancer, or whatever disease killed your child or your mother or father.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/aug/23/87-million-species-earth-says-most-refined-estimat/
An international team of scientists... put the count at 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in the ocean for a total of just under 9 million. And they said 86 percent of all terrestrial species and 91 percent of marine species are yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity#Species_loss_rates
During the last century, decreases in biodiversity have been increasingly observed. In 2007, German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited estimates that up to 30% of all species will be extinct by 2050.[76] Of these, about one eighth of known plant species are threatened with extinction.[77]Estimates reach as high as 140,000 species per year (based on Species-area theory).[78] This figure indicates unsustainable ecological practices, because few species emerge each year. Almost all scientists acknowledge that the rate of species loss is greater now than at any time in human history, with extinctions occurring at rates hundreds of times higher than background extinction rates.[77]
 Again, species loss rates are just estimates, but given that we only know about 9-14% of the species that live on the planet, it kind of sucks that we're losing things we don't even know exist. Many of these, via the Law of Unintended Consequences (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_consequences) may well have important roles to play in processes that we might not even know are crucial to humans, such as binding this or that chemical. We simply don't know how much we don't know.

To illustrate, no-one knows how much Methane Clathrate is bound in ice in various regions, or what will happen to it and how much it will effect a warming Earth in our lifetime. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_clathrate#Methane_clathrates_and_climate_change

But anyway, cool video. Cool crocodile. Let's keep animals like that alive so people and kids can Ooh and Aah about them and be inspired by nature instead of having their heads stuck inside cities glued to television screens all the time. Which is kind of the function of zoos - but the problem is that keeping animals in captivity for your enjoyment is a bit of a mixed thing - not terribly cool for animals that normally have very wide-ranging habitats or are pretty darn intelligent.

Do no evil. Don't be a dick. Hey, look - a big crocodile!

5.9.11

National/worldwide job board integration.

You need a job. Or your business needs employees.

It's hard to find out who's hiring for what and who's available for what position with what skills. There's a multitude of middle-men, recruiters, individuals, word-of-mouth, websites, job boards and whatnot - none of it integrated, everyone has a website that wants you to put in your information in their particular format.

You can spend 30 min inputting your information into one corporation's database only to find out that they have no open positions that fit you. Or one position.

A. Use the big impact profile-building things like USAjobs and LinkedIn, Facebook and (soon) Google Plus to import the information you need.

B. Centralize and build hub systems. The US federal, state and local governments need to stop building recruiting websites and start using stuff like LinkedIn, Indeed, USAjobs and get it all to work smoothly and integrally. I should be able to build ONE profile on ONE website and then just cruise around to see what I have a halfway decent chance at working at.

First step could be to have an "import from LinkedIn" button on USAjobs. Then "Indeed.com" profile. Then Facebook's multiple job-seeking applications.

C. Standardize résumés for greater machine-readability. This is not a place where your individual creativity and writing skills should shine. It needs to become easier to build a program or database that can easily search for résumés that sort of match what you need to fill a spot in a business. I should not be judged based on how damn good I am at paying someone to write a "Federal" or "tailored" résumé if I'm just a solid performer at working on machine X or doing service-job Y. Are you hiring me based on my ability to write résumés?? Wouldn't you rather have the person that can do the job - or be trained to do the job?

In an ideal world, you'd find yourself in need of a job, you'd type in your information, massage it, highlight stuff you want highlighted, send it to one place and the next morning there'd be a list of messages from all the companies looking for people like you, or people who could conceivably be trained to do what they want done. Or you'd find yourself in need of an auto-mechanic that speaks Arabic and has a background in teaching. Type your requirements in, get a list of people.

Obviously that's not gonna work anytime soon, and it's a bit too Big Brother-centralized and monopolistic and could lead to all kinds of issues, say I'm a bartender that just got out of the Army and I want to get hired on in a financial institution - they're not going to want me. But the system might spit out internships. Or entry-level stuff. And there'd be bugs and lying and cheating and all the other crap - but a little bit of integration between big players like Facebook, LinkedIn, USAjobs, Indeed.com etc would be a damn good thing in the meantime.

/rant off