Tuesday, May 31, 2011

France's Irresponsibility

"France reported 10,000 cases — and six deaths — during the first four months of the year, most likely due to low vaccination rates. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes the rise in measles cases in this country to the surge in cases globally, most notably in France, India, and the Philippines."Boston.com
10K cases in 4 months in a first world country for a disease that have had vaccinations for decades. That's a disgrace.

Man who could not remember anything

“I don’t remember things,” Henry explained to the unfamiliar female interviewer. She seemed very curious about how he spends a typical day, and about what he had eaten for breakfast, but his efforts to summon the information from his mind were fruitless. He could easily answer her questions regarding his childhood and early adult years, but the indefinite expanse of time since then was bereft of memories. In fact, from moment to moment Henry feels almost as though he has just awakened from a deep sleep, with the fleeting remnants of a dream always just beyond his grasp. Each experience, dull or dramatic, evaporates from his memory within a few dozen heartbeats and leaves no trace.

For over fifty years Henry has lived with anterograde amnesia, a form of profound memory loss which prevents new events from reaching his long-term memory. As a result his only memories are those he possessed prior to his amnesia, and the small window of moments immediately preceding the present. DI

Monday, May 30, 2011

Teach 'em a lesson

The MB’s Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein also said in the statement released Saturday that only two members represent the group in the Coordination Committee to Protect the Revolution.

The MB, Al-Wafd party and other Islamist groups boycotted a massive demonstration on May 27 in Tahrir Square dubbed the “Second Friday of Anger” which witnessed the participation of tens of thousands of Egyptians of various political affiliations.

In a statement earlier, the MB had discouraged citizens from joining the protest in order to avoid rifts between the people and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Several political activists criticized the statement, accusing the MB and Salafi groups of inciting citizens against them, while others saw it a chance to prove that they can succeed without the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The forces behind the January 25 Revolution… took over the scene proving they don’t need those who only showed up on some days of the uprising [after it already erupted] including the Brotherhood and the Salafi groups,” said Abdel-Fattah, deputy head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. (The Daily News)

The old vanguard of the Muslim Brotherhood thinks they have everything in the bag. They are wrong. The Jan 25 movement started without their participation. The 2nd day of rage last Friday was successful with around 100,000 people showed up in Tahrir. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties publicly boycott the rally and people showed up anyway. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Malta will vote on divorce law

"Likened by critics to an island marooned in the Middle Ages, Malta may take a step into the 21st century on Saturday when voters take part in a historic referendum on whether to allow divorce.

If the Catholic church has its way, Malta will vote no, leaving it the only country in Europe and one of only two countries in the world to ban a couple's right to dissolve their marriage." Guardian

I have no idea about this. Damn, you learn new things everyday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Targeting foreigners in Pakistan

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have given a 10-day deadline to the government to clear the country of foreigners and called upon locals to stay away from foreigners. Pamphlets were being distributed in Karachi, apparently on behalf of the TTP, especially in the surrounding areas of PNS Mehran.The TTP said in the pamphlet that it had completed its ground work in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Sukkur, Hyderabad and Lahore and all offices and residences of foreigners were in its range. “We are beginning a series of attacks against Americans. We have completed the monitoring and set our targets”, the TTP pamphlet said.The TTP warned locals to stay away from areas where foreigners resided or frequented, otherwise they could face problems as well.About a week ago, the Interior Ministry had written a letter No 701/14 to the Home Department, saying foreigners were in danger of being targeted by the Taliban.

A friend of mine is currently working in Pakistan.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The night of 26 May at Baneas, Syria

17 new Pyramids found in Egypt

"Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt. 
More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings."

Start digging (or robbing - unfortunately due to the instability in the country)

More war for your entertainment - Sudan on the brink

There is a rapid deterioriation already along Sudan's disputed North/South border, with a buildup of troops that is pushing the country towar a renewed civil war. 
The Khartoum government's Sudan Armed Forces are massing more troops, tanks and artillery near Abyei, possibly in preparation for more conflict in the disputed area. Global Post

Sadly predictable.

Check out the alarming tracking from Sat Sentinel on Sudan.

Bloomberg now has op-ed sections


It is aimed directly at the heart of NY Times 20 free articles max a month.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The day after apocalypse

"Judgment Day has come and passed, but it was a spiritual judgment on the world," he explains. "There is no more salvation. Salvation is over with. The fact is we have 153 days, and on the 21st of October, the world will end." 
I had profiled several believers before May 21. The day after, most didn't answer the phone. Those who did wouldn't talk on the record. But one man, his voice quavering, said he was still holding out hope that they were one day off. Another believer asserted that their prayers worked: God delayed judgment so that more people could be saved, but the end is "imminent." 
Tom Evans was contrite. Evans is on the board of Family Radio, the organization led by Harold Camping, who calculated and promoted the May 21 date. 
"I don't know where we went wrong other than that we obviously don't understand the Scriptures in the way that we should," he says

What a pathetic bunch 

USC ruling on california prisons

"After years of litigation, it became apparent that a
remedy for the constitutional violations would not be effective
absent a reduction in the prison system population.
The authority to order release of prisoners as a
remedy to cure a systemic violation of the Eighth Amendment...
A correctional officer testified that, in one prison, up to 50
sick inmates may be held together in a 12- by 20-foot cage
for up to five hours awaiting treatment. Tr. 597–599. The
number of staff is inadequate, and prisoners face significant
delays in access to care. A prisoner with severe
abdominal pain died after a 5-week delay in referral to a
specialist ...
The report found that the
rate of suicides involving inadequate assessment, treatment, or inter
vention had risen to 82% and concluded that “[t]hese numbers clearly
indicate no improvement in this area during the past several years, and
possibly signal a trend of ongoing deterioration."

The details in the opinion are of course shameful, but
human rights in the criminal justice system has not
been a strong point for the US in recent times.
(Brown v. Plata USC)

They are sending helicopters now

"Britain and France are to deploy attack helicopters against Libya in an attempt to break the military stalemate, particularly in the important coastal city of Misrata, security sources have told the Guardian.

In a significant escalation of the conflict, the Apaches – based on HMS Ocean – will join French helicopters in risky operations which reflect deepening frustration among British and French defence chiefs about their continuing inability to protect civilians in Libya."

The conflict in Libya has turned into a stalemate - now UK and France are sending the true dogs of war to the area, attack helicopters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Iceland erupts again


Grimsvotn volcano erupted two days ago.

Masochistic Economic Policy

"On the other side, the E.C.B. is acting as if it is determined to provoke a financial crisis. It has started to raise interest rates despite the terrible state of many European economies. And E.C.B. officials have been warning against any form of debt relief — in fact, last week one member of the governing council suggested that even a mild restructuring of Greek bonds would cause the E.C.B. to stop accepting those bonds as collateral for loans to Greek banks. This amounted to a declaration that if Greece seeks debt relief, the E.C.B. will pull the plug on the Greek banking system, which is crucially dependent on those loan" Krugman
You cannot cut your way to prosperity.   

Sunday, May 22, 2011


For beginners, I always recommend a technique called vipassana (Pali, “insight”), which comes from the oldest tradition of Buddhism, the Theravada. The advantage of vipassana is that it can be taught in an entirely secular way. Experts in this practice generally acquire their training in a Buddhist context, of course—and most retreat centers in the U.S. and Europe still teach its associated Buddhist philosophy. Nevertheless, this method of introspection can be brought within any secular or scientific context without embarrassment. The same cannot be said for most other forms of “spiritual” instruction. 
The quality of mind cultivated in vipassana is generally referred to as “mindfulness” (the Pali word is sati), and there is a quickly growing literature on its psychological benefits. Mindfulness is simply a state of open, nonjudgmental, and nondiscursive attention to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Cultivating this quality of mind has been shown to modulate pain, mitigate anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function, and even produce changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain related to learning and memory, emotional regulation, and self awareness. Sam Harris

City of the Dead, Cairo

When you ask a Cairean whether to visit the massive necropolis, they will argue against it or warn to have local to come with you. Bollocks, go by yourself. It's an interesting place to explore and people are warm and friendly. This is a picture taken yesterday.

Sol Square Protests, Madrid

It's modeled after Egypt's Tahrir protests. The youth of Spain are protesting the 45% youth unemployment currently plaguing the country.

Spiegel has more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Kolsay lake in Kazakhstan, 1818 m above sea level.

My friend recently visited this place. The picture looks unreal - what an amazing view.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

German's Ambition

Angela Merkel laid out a bold ambition on Monday: increasing the number of electric cars in Germany from just a handful to a million in less than a decade. Not only would such a feat give the country's green credentials a major boost, but -- perhaps more importantly in the eyes of the chancellor -- it would also help Germany's vital car industry grab a slice of the growing market for itself. 
The German government will double its funding to provide €2 billion ($2.83 billion) by 2013 as part of plans to increase the number of electric cars on the streets from barely 20,000 today to a million by 2020 -- and maybe even six million by 2030. Merkel told a press conference that Germany must be a "market leader" in the new technology.
But she has ruled out subsidising sales of electric cars, which still retail for a significantly higher price than conventional cars. "A premium to buy isn't the right answer," the chancellor said.
Electric cars are the only way to save cities like Cairo of its pollution level and street noise 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The September (not) Surprise

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.
Mahmoud Abbas

It's set. The Palestinian Authority will seek UN recognition this September. Because this goes to UN General Assembly, there is no veto rights.

I am looking forward to this. But 1948 is not Nakba. Nakba is 1967. The story of 1948 are quite common across the world from India/Pakistan, Pakistant/Bangladesh and Egypt/Sudan and countless others.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nakba in Cairo

This picture was taken yesterday afternoon from my office (around 2.30PM) - Around 600 or so protesters showed up to commemorate Nakba.

I left my office at 8 PM and the protest grew a bit bigger but it was peaceful. An hour later at home I received news that warning shots were fired and there were fights on the street between some protesters with the police and soldiers. Some protesters tried to storm the embassy, which as located on the 16 floor of the building in view. 100 or so people were reportedly injured and 2 dead.

What a stupid fucking mess.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Sleep Study

Still, while it’s tempting to believe we can train ourselves to be among the five-hour group — we can’t, Dinges says — or that we are naturally those five-hour sleepers, consider a key finding from Van Dongen and Dinges’s study: after just a few days, the four- and six-hour group reported that, yes, they were slightly sleepy. But they insisted they had adjusted to their new state. Even 14 days into the study, they said sleepiness was not affecting them. In fact, their performance had tanked. In other words, the sleep-deprived among us are lousy judges of our own sleep needs. We are not nearly as sharp as we think we are. NY Times

Bottom line, you cannot cheat sleep. 

IMF Head arrested for attempted of rape charge

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and a presidential hopeful in France, has been arrested and charged of attempted rape, criminal sexual act and unlawful imprisonment, New York City police and the IMF said on Sunday. 
The arrest is set to change the course of France's presidential elections next year, likely depriving the Socialist Part of its most promising candidate and boosting the chances of reelection for French President Nicolas Sarkozy. 
"Whatever the outcome of the procedure is, [Mr. Strauss-Kahn] will not be able to run for president," said Jacques Attali, a former advisor to France's late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand. 
The arrest of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62 years old, who was apprehended by police in the first-class section of an Air France plane minutes before it left New York for Paris on Saturday night, also throws into disarray the leadership of the IMF, whose intervention has played a key role helping European leaders manage the continent's debt crisis." WSJ

Goodbye Mr. Kahn. 

Azerbaijan takes the title

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The boys of Benghazi

The men go to the frontline to fight Qaddafi so the boys took care of the city.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eurovision 2011

Can Lena be copied? At just 19, Germany's raven-haired Lena Meyer-Landrut charmed European voters with her unusually simple performance of the cheerful pop tune "Satellite" at the 2010 Eurovision competition in Oslo. Her quirky, unvarnished style and endearing humility helped the Hanover native win by a landslide. Ecstatic over their first Eurovision victory since 1982, Germany made the controversial decision to enter the young vocalist, known simply as Lena, into the 2011 contest once again. 
But she won't, it would seem, be the only "Lena" taking the stage in Düsseldorf on Saturday. Several other countries looked on with envy last year as Lena walked off with the top prize and rapidly became an idol in her home country. This year, Lena will be competing against several clones who are going to try to out-Lena Lena. SPIEGEL ONLINE takes a look at the line-up of wannabes.Spiegel

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guys who like fat chick

Village Voice has a story on it.

This is way cool.

The most walkable cities in the US

Santa Barbara
The Atlantic

Jobsian Apple

Apple’s decisions and outcomes are the stuff of legend. They famously act asymmetrically to what is “conventional wisdom”. Wisdom imparted supposedly through business schools but systematically contradicted by Apple’s principles:
  • Accountability without control
  • Lack of “P&L responsibility” for top management
  • Saying no to “better things”
  • Building products before markets are identified
  • Functional vs. hierarchical or divisional organzation
  • A disregard for polite consensus

Asia Times warn of impending food crisis in Egypt

The country's foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt's currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.

At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.

Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year's levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year. Asia Times

(H/T Redneck Texan)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Baby Rhino

Church burning and other things in Egypt

Army in Imbaba early Sunday morning

During the 18 days revolution, I have sandals days and shoes days. Shoes days are dangerous days when I wear shoes in case I need to run fast. Today is still a sandal day. The first night after a conflict is the most dangerous because this is the first night after everyone absorbs the news. Yesterday there were minor stone throwing near downtown but nothing escalated up. Last night passed without any major incident.

What we are seeing right now is part of the tumult following a revolution - it is not unexpected but it is major shame. It is unfortunately a major setback to stability. These clashes scare tourists away and gave pause to investors to delay their investments in the country when it is badly needed. You don't want embassies to raise their travel warning again.

A religious sectarian clash stinks the air and inject large does dose of patheticity to the atmosphere.

These are good reports of what's going on

"The army did not arrive until 10pm, at which point it launched tear gas at the church. Sources stated this was aimed at them, even landing inside the walls, rather than at the Muslim attackers. The Muslims also began attacking the army, launching Molotov cocktails. The army responded by firing into the air, and sources stated they did not actively intervene to end the rampage. Instead, they arrested those in the immediate vicinity as they were able, including many Christians." A sense of belonging

For hours now we had contradicting reports and stories but this is what I found out and can be considered as main common points in all the stories. “I am not sure though after all these hours” 
It all started with a lady named Abeer , originally from Upper Egypt who allegedly converted to Islam who couple of years ago and married a Muslim. 
We found tweets and Facebook status online that Salafists and all Muslims should head to “Marimina” Church in Imbaba because Abeer was abducted by Christians and that Abeer herself called a man named “Abu Yassin” asking for rescue. We are speaking about 8 PM Cairo local time. 
All accusation fingers are pointing to Paltalk chat room owned by someone called Wassem. “I think they mean Wassem Abdullah” (Zenobia)

"A bystander, Ashraf, overheard us talking about how to get through the cordon and volunteered to take us through back streets to the area behind the church, with the warning, “I don’t care whether you’re Christian or Muslim but if anyone asks tell them you’re Muslim even if you’re not”. 
Despite the heavy cordon placed immediately in front of the church there was virtually no security in the back streets. As we went further, the sound of gunfire got louder until we found ourselves standing underneath the back of the church. A small group of men stood on the corner. As we passed the alley that runs along the side of the church we saw that the street was filled with thick smoke. "Sarah Carr

View Imbaba Clash in a larger map

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Egypt's Foreign Minister interveiw at WP

U.S.-Egyptian relations have been based on a shared strategic vision. So do you feel that Egypt’s vision will change? 
This concept of opening up and turning a new page does not affect our relations with the United States or anyone. Your closest friends and allies — the U.K. and France and Germany — all have diplomatic relations with Iran. I don’t see the problem. All your allies have relations with Iran.

Salafists stirring trouble in Cairo

"At least five people have been killed and dozens more wounded during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo, Egyptian officials say. 
The clashes - in the suburb of Imbaba - came after Muslims attacked a church to free a Christian woman, witnesses said. 
They alleged she was being held against her will because she wanted to convert to Islam.
Soldiers and police, backed by tanks, fired guns and tear gas to separate the groups, according to reports. 
Eyewitnesses said some 500 conservative Muslims - known as Salafists - gathered at the Coptic Saint Mena Church in the northwestern Cairo suburb demanding to take custody of the woman."

Imbaba is one of the larger neighborhood in Cairo along the banks of the river Nile about 5 KM from where I live. This was the location of clashes between some Salafist groups with Copts last night. 9 people reported killed, 120 injured and one church torched. These Salafist groups have increasingly become one source of instability in Egypt - they have clashed with Sufi and Copts in recent months.

These groups are not Muslim Brotherhood you hear a lot in the press. Although the clashes these Salafist groups were involved in recent months have increased, I see little chance this becomes a wider general trend. There is still large reservoir of ability within the Egyptian community to handle these kind of assaults to religious harmony developed through more than a thousand years of co existence.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

World's largest model airport

Airwolf exists

Danger Room

Check out the mystery chopper used to kill Bin Laden

Dog Warrior

Daredevil dogs: The question of how the dog got into bin Laden's compound is no puzzle -- the same way the special ops team did, by being lowered from an MH-60s helicopter. In fact, U.S. Air Force dogs have been airborne for decades, though the earliest flying dogs accompanied Soviet forces in the 1930s.

Dogs usually jump in tandem with their trainers, but when properly outfitted with flotation vests they can make short jumps into water on their own. A U.S. Navy SEAL, Mike Forsythe, and his dog, Cara -- pictured above -- recently broke the world record for "highest man/dog parachute deployment" by jumping from 30,100 feet.
(Foreign Policy)

A Buddhist view of Bin Laden hit

"The Dalai Lama "emphasized the need to find a distinction between the action and the actor. He said in the case of Bin Laden, his action was of course destructive and the September 11 events killed thousands of people. … So his action must be brought to justice... But with the actor we must have compassion and a sense of concern... His Holiness said therefore the counter measure, no matter what form it takes, has to be compassionate action." 
""Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. … If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures," the Dalai Lama said." (Slate)

2 bullets in the face is a compassionate action here. Capturing him alive would trigger a massive hostage taking trends by his acolytes to trade for his release. 

Graphic photos from Bin Laden compound

Reuters purchased them from one lucky Pakistani soldier. Click here to view them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A blogger's last post

Here it is. I'm dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote—the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive. 
If you knew me at all in real life, you probably heard the news already from another source, but however you found out, consider this a confirmation: I was born on June 30, 1969 in Vancouver, Canada, and I died in Burnaby on May 3, 2011, age 41, of complications from stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer. We all knew this was coming. 
That includes my family and friends, and my parents Hilkka and Juergen Karl. My daughters Lauren, age 11, and Marina, who's 13, have known as much as we could tell them since I first found I had cancer. It's become part of their lives, alas. (PenMachine)

Porto bailout

"Portugal's caretaker government said that it had negotiated a €78bn bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, but was waiting for opposition parties to agree. 
Acting prime minister José Sócrates said that, under the terms of the deal, Portugal must slash its budget deficit from 9.1% to 5.9% this year, and then reduce it to 3% by 2013."

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Play Station

"The crisis at Sony deepened on Tuesday as it admitted that an extra 25 million customers who played games on its Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) PC games network have had their personal details stolen – and that they were taken before the theft of 77 million peoples' details on the PlayStation Network (PSN). 
The electronics giant said the names, addresses, emails, birth dates, phone numbers and other information from PC games customers were stolen from its servers as well as an "outdated database" from 2007 which contained details of around 23,400 people outside the US. That includes 10,700 direct debit records for customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, Sony said.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The team that killed bin Laden

"After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap -- boom, boom -- to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by U.S. forces, military and White House officials tell National Journal." National Journal

Osama bin Laden is dead

"President Obama announced late Sunday that Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in a firefight during an operation he ordered Sunday inside Pakistan, ending a 10-year manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist. American officials were in possession of his body, he said. 
“On nights like this one, ‘’ the president said, “we can say that justice has been done.’’" NY Times

He was killed in city of Abbottabad, Pakistan.

It was a Navy SEALS operation. Apparently he was shot in the head. 

This elevates Zawahiri, the Egyptian born terror doctor, to number one position in Al-Qaeda.

He is being hunted down as well. May justice caught up with him. He is the mastermind of a string of terrorist attacks in Egypt in the 90's. He might order another attack in Egypt soon as a retaliation and signalling that they are still active.

But today is a really lovely and historic day.