Monday, May 31, 2010

Middle East - it is never boring

"In their last report before the United Nations Security Council takes up sanctions against Iran, international nuclear inspectors declared on Monday that Iran has now produced a stockpile of nuclear fuel that experts say would be sufficient to make two nuclear weapons.

The report, by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a branch of the United Nations, appears likely to bolster the Obama’s administration’s case for a fourth round of economic sanctions against Iran, and further diminish its interest in a deal, recently revived by Turkey and Brazil, in which Iran would send a portion of its nuclear stockpile out of the country.

When Iran tentatively agreed eight months ago to ship some of its nuclear material out of the country, the White House said the deal would temporarily deprive Iran of enough fuel to make even a single weapon. But Iran delayed for months, and the figures contained in the inspectors’ report on Monday indicated that even if Iran now shipped the agreed-upon amount of nuclear material out of the country, it would retain enough for a single weapon, undercutting the American rationale for the deal."
NY Times

On the Gaza Flotilla attack

"Here in Israel, we have still yet to learn the lesson: We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege. The siege itself is becoming Israel's Vietnam." Haaretz

Two miscalculations: by the Israeli commandos that the passengers of the ship will react similarly to previous flotilla incidents in the past (the other five ships in the flotilla were commandeered without incident) - and by the Turks protesters that beating fully armed Commandos will not get you shot.

This is kids what you call a lousy lose lose situation.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Australia's Firewall

"MINISTER for Communications Stephen Conroy has vowed to push on with his controversial internet filtering scheme, despite a barrage of criticism.

Senator Conroy told The Sun-Herald that internet advocacy groups such as GetUp! were ''deliberately misleading'' the Australian public about the scheme, which will refuse classification to illegal and socially unacceptable web pages. The legislation, which was expected to be passed before Parliament rises in June, has been delayed until the second half of the year while the government fine-tunes it.

The government's $128.8 million Cyber Safety policy includes forcing internet service providers to block access to a secret blacklist of website pages identified as ''refused classification'' by the Australian police."

Yup, it's not just the Chinese that's doing it. The Australian government has been pushing to implement an Internet censorship regime.

Buy one for your new house

"When he reopens an exhibition space and workshop in Guben, Germany, this week, Gunther von Hagens will also be selling some of his work: milimeter-thin slices of human corpses that have been processed using a plastination technique he invented." Spiegel

Eurovision 2010 winner

" Lena Meyer Landrut of Germnay performs her song 'Sattelite' during the third dress rehearsal of the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 on May 29, 2010 in Oslo, Norway." Daylife

You can almost hear the palpable sense of relief across many European headquarters. A German has won the contest which means that it will host the competition next year.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spend or save?

"Europe is eager to begin paying down sovereign debt. The US wants to see Germany and France continue stimulus measures. With Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in Germany on Thursday, the trans-Atlantic differences in fiscal policy have become difficult to ignore.

The two were eager to demonstrate unanimity. US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and his German counterpart, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, went before the press in Berlin on Thursday and announced that they had reached "broad agreement" on the need to regulate the global financial system.

Geithner also praised Berlin's "leadership role" in putting together the €750 billion ($920 billion) plan, agreed on earlier this month, to help European governments struggling with sovereign debt and said that he is working closely with Europe "to make sure that we are strengthening and reinforcing global recovery."
But the camaraderie displayed on Thursday belied some recent tension in the trans-Atlantic relationship. For one, the US has not been impressed with Germany's recent decision to ban certain kinds of naked short selling, considering it an unhelpful bit of unilateralism.

On a more fundamental level, however, Washington is concerned that, should Europe overreach in its rush to cut government spending, it could endanger the fragile economic recovery that has taken hold on the Continent and around the globe. In particular, the US would like to see countries like Germany and France continue efforts to stimulate their economies."

The problem is that everybody has to get growth going strong again. It is stupid to concentrate on paying down sovereign debt if you cripple your economic growth.

Hell in a small place

"The man intones, ‘In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. ...’ Mohsen braces himself. There is a terse whisper and the instrument comes crashing onto the soles of Mohsen’s feet. An unimaginable pain shoots through his body to his temples, a pain to drive one mad. Mohsen is dimly aware that he is screaming. His wrist and ankles are being cut up as he thrashes against his bonds.

“The beating continues. Before each blow, the man calls, ‘Ya! Hossein!’ After a while he stops to catch his breath. He speaks to Mohsen. He calls him a Hypocrite and a traitor to God. Then he starts again.”

The above passage comes from an important book, “Death to the Dictator!”, written under the pseudonym of Afsaneh Moqadam. The book, published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, plunged me back into Tehran in the harrowing days after June 12, 2009.

It recounts a fairly typical story: A young man named Mohsen Abbaspour (not his real name), who moves from apolitical apathy to action in the weeks before the vote, is outraged by the outcome and joins massive street protests, before being grabbed by goons and “disappeared” into an unspeakable labyrinth of violence.

The intensity of the account put me in mind of Bernard Fall’s “Hell in a Very Small Place.”"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top Kill

"BP started pumping heavy mud into the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, the company’s boldest attempt yet to plug the gusher that has spewed millions of gallons of oil.

BP hoped the mud could overpower the steady stream of oil that has been spilling for five weeks. Company officials emphasized that success was not guaranteed, and the “top kill” could fail at any moment.

But engineers and geologists following the effort, in which heavy fluids are injected into the well, said the likelihood of success grew with each passing hour.

Chief executive Tony Hayward said it would be at least 24 hours before officials know whether the attempt worked. The company wants to eventually inject cement into the well to seal it.

Let's hope it works.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Czech Republic won Ice Hockey World Cup

"The Czech Republic won the World Ice Hockey Championship in Cologne, Germany, beating defending champions Russia 2-1 in Sunday's final.

Undefeated since 2007, Russia had been looking for their third successive championship title. But it was the Czechs who got off to a flying start, scoring just 20 seconds into the match through Klepis, who fired on an unguarded post." dw-world

Google Pacman is permanent now

Three weeks to go

"South African soccer fan dressed in colors of the national flag dancers as she blows a vuvuzela ( plastic trumpet) during a 2010 FIFA World Cup street party at Vilakazi street in Orlando East, Soweto, South Africa, May 21, 2010. With just twenty days to go to the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament supporters enjoyed the party in Soweto. Vilakazi Street where two of South Africa's Noble Peace Prize winners - former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu once lived." Daylife

Korean Peninsula heats up

"Tensions escalated sharply Monday on the Korean peninsula, as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that his nation would cut nearly all trade with North Korea, deny North Korean merchant ships use of South Korean sea lanes and ask the United Nations Security Council to punish the North for what he called the deliberate sinking of a South Korean warship two months ago." NY Times

One more things to worry about.

World Cup 2010 stadiums

Friday, May 21, 2010

Swinger's philosophy

"“Marriage is like water,” he said. “You have to drink it. Swinging is like wine. Some people feel it’s delicious the first time they try it, so they keep drinking. Some people try it and think it tastes bad, so they never drink it again. It’s completely voluntary. No one is forcing you.”" NY Times


"The case of Mr. Ma, who was arrested in August and went on trial last month, has drawn attention across China not only for its titillating details, but also because it raises questions about an authoritarian government’s attempts to curb sexual freedom and limit privacy in a society where rapid economic growth and the ubiquity of the Internet have upended traditional values.

Brothels — often thinly disguised as hair salons or massage parlors — and shops selling sex toys proliferate across cities and even in many villages, and premarital sex is common among young couples."

Last year I spent a week in Western China to attend Devrim's wedding. All the male guests in the hotel received a midnight call offering massages.

Chinese might not have a license to speak, but they do have the license to shag, commercially or not.

One way to spend your millions

"During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.

The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe's personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family's party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos' parent company, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year." WSJ

Pretty much the Casino provides him with liquors, girls, food, entertainment, etc to keep him virtually living in their premise and gambling his fortunes away.


US Dollars, fuck yeah!

There were talks about replacing US dollars as the currency of choice for oil trading and replace it with a basket of currencies. Check out this reporting from late 2009:

"In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar." The demise of the Dollar

That wasn't such a great idea now, was it? A major component of the basket currency, the Euro, is being hammered relentlessly by the market because of some pretty dysfunctional member states economic policy in the Euro zone. There are some serious doubts being aired about the medium term ability by the Euro zone to expand or even maintain their existing member states.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

London Olympic outperformed itself

After this genius of a logo, the London Olympic comes up with yet more winning designs. Introducing Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots of London Olympic.

One Eyed Monsters..ha..ha..ha..

Doping in Cycling? You don't say

"After four years of maintaining his innocence after doping charges ruined his reputation and caused him to be stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, the American cyclist Floyd Landis has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career, according to emails Landis recently sent to several cycling officials in the United States and in Europe.

In those emails, described Wednesday by one of the officials who received them, Landis said he had used performance-enhancing drugs or methods since 2002, his first year racing with the now-defunct United States Postal Service team, once led by Lance Armstrong. The official did not want his name published, citing ongoing investigations, including by federal authorities, into the content of the emails.

In those messages, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Landis also detailed the performance-enhancing drug use of other top American cyclists on the U.S. Postal Service team, including Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion. Other cyclists named in the emails were current U.S. road racing national champion George Hincapie, three-time Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer and five-time U.S. time trial champion David Zabriskie." NY Times

Heads up

There will be a referendum in January 2011 to decide whether Southern Sudan will secede from Sudan.

War Crimes in Sri Lanka - ICG document

"Crisis Group possesses credible evidence that is sufficient to warrant an independent international investigation of the following allegations:

The intentional shelling of civilians. Starting in late January, the government and security forces encouraged hundreds of thousands of civilians to move into ever smaller government-declared No Fire Zones (NFZs) and then subjected them to repeated and increasingly intense artillery and mortar barrages and other fire. This continued through May despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties.

The intentional shelling of hospitals. The security forces shelled hospitals and makeshift medical centres – many overflowing with the wounded and sick – on multiple occasions even though they knew of their precise locations and functions. During these incidents, medical staff, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others continually informed the government and security forces of the shelling, yet they continued to strike medical facilities through May forcing civilians to abandon them.

The intentional shelling of humanitarian operations. Despite knowing the exact location of humanitarian operations and food distribution points, the security forces repeatedly shelled these areas, which were crowded with humanitarian workers, vehicles and supplies, and civilians. Many were killed or wounded trying to deliver or receive basic humanitarian assistance, including women, children and infants.
" International Crisis Group

On the other hand, peace finally breaks out in Sri Lanka after the Tamil Tiger rebellion crushed and eradicated after more than 30 years of bloody conflicts.

Bangkok Burning

More high quality pictures at Big Lense.

China is watching warily about the situation in Thailand because it might have some relevant to its own population. The Red Shirt movement represents poor/working class segment of the Thai society that are missed out on much of the economic wealth generated by the growth of the economy. They are part of the Disenchanted masses. China has this problem at much larger scale.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

translation request

my neighbor has asked me to translate the instructions for using this product, which are written in an unfamiliar script that i suppose is Thai.  if anyone can read Thai (or whatever language this is) please post a translation.

if you can read Thai but are opposed in principle to the practice of chemical skin bleaching, be assured that i will discourage the person from using the product, but would like to supply information about its intended use in case they ignore my advice.

Subtropolis - Underground City

"EACH YEAR, ABOUT a million people visit the Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun theme parks in Kansas City, Missouri, most of them unaware of an even stranger attraction lying about 100 feet below. Down there, in a place called SubTropolis, is a bustling enterprise zone where some 55 businesses have set up shop. You can find everything from 100-pound sacks of coffee beans to original reels of Gone With the Wind and the U.S. Postal Service’s stash of hundreds of millions of commemorative stamps.

With 5 million square feet of leased warehouse, light-industry, and office space, and a network of more than two miles of rail lines and six miles of roads, SubTropolis is the world’s largest underground business complex—and one of eight or so in the area. To people along this stretch of the Missouri River, however, subterranean development also represents an innovative local way to save energy and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions." The Atlantic

Atlas Obscura

How the Euro bail out happened

Spiegel has a fascinating blow by blow account on how the Eurozone came into agreement to provide more than half a billion Euros to defend the currency zone.

"Berlin, the federal parliament, the Bundestag, 10 a.m.

The debate over financial assistance for Greece is scheduled to begin in three hours, but it is clear to everyone that rejecting the legislation is not an option. "We must defend the common European currency in its entirety," says Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, speaking for the government. "In doing so, we are also defending the European project."

His words are met with enthusiastic applause. Afterwards, Chancellor Angela Merkel says privately that Schäuble's speech demonstrated to her, once again, how important it is to support him as finance minister, despite his health problems. The Bundestag ratifies the bill in a vote of 391 to 72, and the members, pleased with their achievement, say their goodbyes for the weekend." Read More

"Sarkozy meets with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Prior to the German chancellor's arrival in Brussels, Sarkozy engaged in a quick round of shuttle diplomacy. He met privately with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, Berlusconi and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, one after the other, to tell them about the "French plan," which he intended to present to the larger group that evening."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Miss USA 2010

"Pageant organizers on Sunday night crowned a 24-year-old Lebanese immigrant from Michigan as Miss USA 2010.

Rima Fakih was born in Lebanon, moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York City, where she attended a Catholic school. She told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003, where she later became Miss Michigan USA.NY Times

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hadera Desalination Plant, Israel

It is one of the largest desalination plant in the world. It just starts operating today.

"Initially the plant was designed to produce about 100 million m³ of high-quality potable water per year. In early 2009 plans were made to extend production capacity by another 27 million m³ per year with an investment of €70m." Water Technology

Working on multiple computers using one keyboard and mouse

If you have multiple computers at home, use this utility (Input Director) so that you can control all of them just using one keyboard and mouse.

Friday, May 14, 2010

new UK Cabinet

Usually I don't give a damn about UK politics but this coalition government thingy is making things interesting again. Check out the new cabinet.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More on deficit

"The way people suggest they can cut spending without cutting activity is completely fallacious. This is appalling in Europe right now. The Greeks are being asked to cut 10 percent from spending in a few years. And the assumption is that this won't affect GDP. But of course it will! It will cut at least 10 percent! And so they won't have the tax collections to fund the new lower level of spending. Spain was forced to make the same announcement yesterday. So the Eurozone is going down the tubes.

On the other hand, look at Japan. They've had enormous deficits ever since the crash in 1988. What's been the interest rate on government bonds ever since? It's zero! They've had no problem funding themselves. The best asset to own in Japan is cash, because the price level is falling. It gets you 4 percent return. The idea that funding difficulties are driven by deficits is an argument backed by a very powerful metaphor, but not much in the way of fact, theory or current experience." Washington Post

Another view from a commenter. Worth reading in full.

"People act as if the government is some separate entity from the rest of the economy. They act as if we just cut Gov't spending, all it will do is effect the deficit. It will not effect the economy. This is totally absurd. Every penny that the government spends eventually ends up as someone's paycheck (it might have to go through several transactions first, mind you). Whenever you cut spending, that is someone with less money (or maybe someone who no longer even has a job). If the cuts are big enough, this will effect the economy as a whole quite a bit as those people no longer have money to spend on goods and services. The tax base will decrease. He is pointing out the opposite. More spending puts more money in the economy.

If spending cuts were coupled with equal tax cuts things may balance out, but then there is no effect on the deficit, so if the deficit is your concern, this changes nothing.

The only decent argument is that if the government isn't doing the borrowing and spending, then the private industry will and thus those who lost salary or jobs from the public cuts can make up for them with the increase in private economic activity that will result. This is good if you believe that private industry is more efficient and productive than government. This is the main point of the so called "crowding out" idea. This point may have a lot of validity during good times. But during a recession, especially a big one, can we really expect the private industry to step up and pick up the slap? If the government borrows less, thus cutting people's pay or laying off workers does that necessarily imply that the private industry will borrow, increase spending, and create new jobs? No, not if the economic situation is still dire enough for them to have no faith in consumers stepping up their behavior. In fact, during a recession, by the government spending more money and giving the population more money in their pocket, this might actually lead to enough of an increase in consumer activity that the government might actually "crowd in" private activity.

yes, all that borrowing will have to be paid back, and with interest, but it strikes me as much wiser to hold off on that payback until the economy is fixed and people are working again. Fixing the debt when people are already broke and jobless be taking even more money and jobs out of the economy seems like precisely the wrong time to do it."

Galungan in Bali, Indonesia

"Balinese pray during the ceremony of Galungan day in Ubud, Bali resort island May 12, 2010. Galungan Day celebrates the victory of good over evil. The local government has declared a three-day holiday from Tuesday to Thursday to allow residents to celebrate Galungan."

"Balinese Hindu followers pray at a temple during the Galungan day in Denpasar on the island of Bali on October 14, 2009. Galungan is Bali's most significant ritual as Hindu followers celebrated their 'Day of Victory' when god defeated evil." Daylife

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dare Devil Pilots

"The flights that took place under visual flight rules during the volcanic ash alarm last month were more dangerous than was previously known. Dozens of aircraft flew at high speeds and low altitudes over Germany, despite the warnings of pilots and air traffic controllers.

By the time they were flying over Lake Steinhude near the northern German city of Hanover, Carsten Richter was "extremely concerned." The Lufthansa pilot, traveling as a passenger on the flight, was looking out the window from his seat in the cabin.

"We were still about 1,000 meters (around 3,000 feet) above the ground," says Richter. The Airbus A321, which had taken off in Frankfurt, was descending over the North German lowlands. "The wind turbines, which seemed very large to me, led me to question whether the aircraft was flying at the required minimum altitude," the first officer later wrote in an internal Lufthansa pilot forum.

It was Tuesday morning, April 20, as the Airbus with the tail number D-AISQ was flying at high speed and low altitude over northern Germany, still 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from the airport in Hamburg. When the plane's altitude was less than 600 meters, Richter started keeping a watchful eye out for possible "hobby pilots," with their Cessnas, gliders or hang-gliders. His fears were confirmed while the aircraft was still south of the Elbe River. "I wasn't exactly thrilled to see a small aircraft appearing below us," he later noted in the Lufthansa forum.

Nevertheless, the flight landed safely at Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport at 12:17 p.m. Another 10 aircraft had taken off or landed in Hamburg on that morning as well. Their flights could probably have been classified as unique experiences in German civil aviation until then. For some, the low-altitude flights turned the skies over Germany into a Wild West of aviation for a short period of time." Spiegel

Call to action: Facebook gone rogue

"Facebook has gone rogue, drunk on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of world domination. It’s time the rest of the web ecosystem recognizes this and works to replace it with something open and distributed."

The other Species

"And now, with the full genome sequence, we can start to answer many more questions, both about Neanderthals and about ourselves. The idea is that if you line up the sequences of humans, Neanderthals and chimpanzees, you can start to trace which genetic changes occurred when. Unsurprisingly, the data suggest that by far the bulk of our genetic evolution happened in the millions of years before humans and Neanderthals separated; the handful of known differences between us and Neanderthals occur in a motley ragbag of genes. (There’s no obvious stamp of rapid brain evolution, for example.)" NY Times

David Cameron

The new British Prime Minister. He has managed to coalesce Liberal-Democrats into a coalition with his party, the Tory (conservative). This is the first coalition government in the UK for 70 years.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Lib-Dems party killed in the first ever election debate in British history a couple of weeks ago and managed to bring his party to power after 90 years. He is now Deputy Prime Minister.

Monday, May 10, 2010

European Sugar Mama

"E.U. finance ministers have agreed emergency measures worth up to EUR 500 billion to stop the Greek debt crisis from spilling over to other countries in the euro area.

The package includes loan guarantees worth EUR 440 billion provided by the 16 member states of the Eurozone, plus a EUR 60 billion contribution from the European Commission. The International Monetary Fund will also participate in the mechanism and provide at least EUR 250 billion in support.

Separately, the ECB also confirmed that it will for the first time buy both public and private sector debt within the eurozone to protect the common currency. European laws prevent the bank from directly buying up government debts. “The objective of the program is to address the malfunctioning of securities markets and restore an appropriate monetary policy transmission mechanism,” the bank said in a statement." Daily Markets

Now that the super state starts bailing out member countries, it will demand blood in the future in the form of political integration. We will see United States of Europe or whatever the latin translation will be.

There is no bailout without giving up sovereignty.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sergio Documentary by HBO - Trailer

If you never heard of him, check out his Wikipedia profile.

Forever Crisis

"European Union officials were working out the details of a financial support mechanism on Saturday to prevent Greece’s debt turmoil spreading to Portugal and Spain, ready for approval by EU finance ministers on Sunday.

The leaders of the 16 countries that use the single currency said on Friday after talks with the European Central Bank and the executive European Commission that they would take whatever steps were needed to protect the stability of the euro area." FT

Imagine, the financial crisis that started in late 1997 is still in force even after all these money being dumped into global circulations. This domino is definitely very very long. It acts like a bird flu crisis that jump from one vulnerable nation to another.

It also shows that a lot of countries are not prepared to do what was necessary before the problems got too big and out of control.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


The migration of images from old nomadlife server to a new one is completed. This week your 'missing images' will appear on your blog again.

Today (and tomorrow) is Victory Day

"In Berlin, a group of Russian veterans received a commemorative medal "65 Years of Victory in World War II 1941-1945. The awarding ceremony was held at the Embassy of Russia in Germany.

Users received nearly one hundred and fifty veterans who reside in Germany. Russian Ambassador to Germany Vladimir Kotenev, thanked the participants for the great victory of the war, and stressed the importance of the statements of the German authorities that the country has learned lessons from this bloody experience."

The world used to suck a lot more.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Greek Drama

"People walk by a burnt out Ihlas Turkish international news agency van on May 5, 2010. Greek bank staff will hold a nationwide strike Thursday in protest at the deaths of three bank employees in a firebomb attack during general strike demonstrations in Athens on Wednesday, their union said." Daylife

Hang tight. These things are going to get worse before it gets better. If you miss out on the news, the Euro zone countries and IMF have just bailed out Greece to the tune of 146 billion dollars. In return, the Greeks agreed to sell their children and grandchildren (or more in the line of imposing severe austerity measures).

"Key elements of the reform package are:

  • Fiscal policies. Fiscal consolidation—on top of adjustment already under way—will total 11 percent of GDP over three years, with the adjustment designed to get the general government deficit under the 3 percent level by 2014 (compared with 13.6 percent in 2009).
  • Government spending. Spending measures will yield savings of 5 ¼ percent of GDP through 2013. Pensions and wages will be reduced and frozen for three years, with payment of Christmas, Easter, and summer bonuses workers abolished, but with protection for the lowest-paid.
  • Government revenues. Revenues measures will yield 4 percent of GDP through 2013 by raising value-added tax, and taxes on luxury items, and tobacco and alcohol, among other items.
  • Revenue administration and expenditure control. The Greek government will strengthen its tax collection and raise contributions from those who have not carried a fair share of the tax burden. It will safeguard revenue from the largest tax payers. It will also strengthen budget controls. The total revenue gains and expenditure savings from these structural reforms are expected to gradually total 1.8 percent of GDP during the program period.
  • Financial stability. A Financial Stability Fund, funded from the external financing package, is being set up to ensure a sound level of bank equity.
  • Entitlement programs. Government entitlement programs will be curtailed; selected social security benefits will be cut while maintaining benefits for the most vulnerable.
  • Pension reform. Comprehensive pension reform is proposed, including by curtailing provisions for early retirement.
  • Structural policies. Government to modernize public administration, strengthen labor markets and income policies, improve the business environment, and divest state enterprises.
  • Military spending. The plan envisages a significant reduction in military expenditure during the period." IMF

The list above is a bit dull but it boils down to cut pensions, cut social services, cut military spending, fire government workers, and introduce new taxes and tax hikes. Ouch.

2.6 billion people can't be wrong

"What really went on at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen? Secret recordings obtained by SPIEGEL reveal how China and India prevented an agreement on tackling climate change at the crucial meeting. The powerless Europeans were forced to look on as the agreement failed.

At some point his patience was at an end, as depleted as the oxygen in the small conference room. He could no longer keep still, not even for a second.

The words suddenly burst out of French President Nicolas Sarkozy: "I say this with all due respect and in all friendship." Everyone in the room, which included two dozen heads of state, knew that he meant precisely the opposite of what he was saying. "With all due respect to China," the French president continued, speaking in French." Spiegel

And this is quite dramatic

"A hush came over the room. Even the mobile phones stopped ringing. It was Friday, Dec. 18, 2009, at about 4 p.m. That was the moment when the world leaders meeting in Copenhagen abandoned their efforts to save the world."

Starts the eerie music.

Man meet boy story

"A Christian leader and prominent neuro-psychiatrist who co-founded the Family Research Council with evangelist James Dobson took a ten-day European vacation with a callboy he met through and was caught in an airport with the escort by a Miami newspaper.

The escort said he had met George Rekers, professor of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of South Carolina, on Rekers, when confronted, didn't deny that he'd met the callboy online, but said he had hired him to help him carry his baggage and didn't learn he was generally hired for "private company" until mid-way through his European vacation.Raw Story

Whoever says righteous religious dudes do not know how to have fun is dead wrong. This story is like Tiger Wood's story, but gayer and  more fabulous. At least Tiger is a professional golfer, not a professional moralizer.

If your pictures are missing on your new blog

just stay put. They are being migrated. It will just appear soon as long as you follow the instruction.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Douche of the year: Faisal Shahzad.

for attempting to ignite a car bomb in Times Square. The dude has a wife and two young kids. I bet he is no longer qualified for Father of the Year award.

China Razzle Dazzle


Shanghai World Expo is the most expensive and expansive World Expo event ever. The Chinese government spends more money on this event than the amazing Beijing Olympics.

Something to keep in mind

"The trajectory of U.K. public debt over the next 30 years, absent a major change of policy, will take it to a mind-blowing 500% of GDP, which is about 100 percentage points worse than Greece. If Britain had done what many right-thinking people thought it should do and joined the euro, the situation of Britain would be worse than that of Greece today. The only reason that Britain isn’t an honourary member of the PIIGS club, along with Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain, is that it stayed outside the eurozone and therefore reserves the right to debase the currency as an exit strategy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that very cheery as a prospect" Nial Ferguson

I have a solution. Have the Queen relinquish the right to be the Head of State of Australia in exchange of 200 billion dollars. Call it Cash for Republic.

Sigh of relief across the Middle East

"Federal agents and police detectives arrested a Connecticut man, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, early Tuesday in connection with the failed Times Square car bombing, according to people briefed on the investigation.

The man, Faisal Shahzad, was believed to have recently bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder that was found loaded with gasoline, propane, fireworks and fertilizer in the heart of Times Square, one of the people briefed on the development said.

Mr. Shahzad was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport, apparently trying to flee, one of the people said. Charges against Mr. Shahzad, who had returned recently from a trip to Pakistan, were not announced.

The authorities began focusing on him after they tracked the vehicle to its previously registered owner in Bridgeport, Conn., who had advertised it for sale on several Web sites. He paid cash, and the sale was handled without any formal paperwork." NY Times

Not at an Arab, they say. Somebody else will take vilification.

You can stop watching the cable news network for a week now. They will repeat the story of this man and his failed attack over and over and over again until it numbs your skull and now you are ready to confess to anything.

There is a war in AfPak and he is a Taliban's Predator's drone. A more sophisticated drone than the ones America has. Similar to the Predator drone, this guy can hover around an area for a long time. Unlike Predator, this does not need to return to base to refuel itself. A quick stop to a hot dog stand or a New York diner will do the trick. The downside of this drone for the Taliban  is that, unlike McDonald's, you get wildly different kind of sauce for every attack attempt. But these guys are cheap and you know from the Chinese exports, cheap is a desirable quality for disposable things.

Monday, May 03, 2010

We are going to be in this format this month

The migration too will be up on until May 15 to allow people to migrate the blog to the new infrastructure. The missing info infrastructure will be up soon. What I am doing right now is migrating all the existing images and old blog pages on the ftp server to a new server. Once that is done (I am transferring about 10GB worth of files), then the missing info functionality will be up. This means that all your "missing images" on your blog right now now will be restored.

146.2 billion Dollar rescue

Eurozone members and the IMF have come to the rescue to Greece. BBC has more. If you live in Greece, prepare for some prolonged hardship due to the austerity measures imposed by your creditors. Indonesia has had the unfortunate opportunity to taste those bitter pills back in Asian economic crisis in 1997-1998.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pardon the messed up layout

The missing host part of the migration is not completed yet. I am still transferring the old files to a new server. We'll stay ugly (uh..minimalist) until the rest of the files are migration.

This site now runs on Google infrastructure.