Thursday, May 31, 2012

Icon for Al Houla Massacre

Not sure who made this.

Sunni vs Shia/Alawite in Syrian conflict

A depressive reporting on the Houla massacre. The women and children murdered last week was made by people in neighboring town.

Whether these accusations are true or not, it will make little impact on the ground. Once the mind is set that the Alawites are murdering children and women with knives, the revenge will come, sooner and later. People in this region do not forget nor forgive.

If they don't have a civil war already, they have one now and it's going to get nastier.

Google Glass in the wild

Charlie Rose interviews Sebastian Thurn, the found and head of Google X and he is wearing the Google glass.

Vietnamese Mail Order brides

In yesterday's edition of the Global Times, the Chinese English-language newspaper tells us "Vietnam's mail-order bride business is booming." This, of course, is nothing new. But the story, and the controversy surrounding international marriage migration in Vietnam, reminded me of my time in the country. The Atlantic

The world is huge. I have always relate mail order bride with Russian but apparently Vietnamese are capturing the Asian market.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

German Rescue of Europe is coming

The German scheme -- known as the European Redemption Pact -- offers a form of "Eurobonds Lite" that can be squared with the German constitution and breaks the political logjam. It is a highly creative way out of the debt crisis, but is not a soft option for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other states in trouble. 

The plan is drafted by the German Council of Economic Experts and inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s Sinking Fund in the United States -- created in 1790 to clean up the morass of debts left by the Revolutionary War. Flourishing Virginia was comparable to Germany today. Chancellor Angela Merkel shot down the proposals last November as "completely impossible", but Europe’s crisis has since festered, and her Christian Democrat party has since suffered crushing defeats in regional elections. Telegraph
Make it a political union already, dammit.

A better Amercia

Better not outsource your Apple App.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Door to door executions

The horrors of the Houla masacre start to come out. Most of the 100 victims (including 32 children) were shot in close range.

Egypt's Immigration

I just renewed my residency here for another 5 years (which most likely I won't use all). I had already overstayed my visa for 4 months and in return, I got fined for less than 30 dollars (a proper fine, not a bribe).

Had this happened in the US, I would have been deported out of the country long time ago.

Egypt is many things but it has a wonderfully flexible immigration system.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rwanda's dangerous game in Congo

The UN says it has evidence that a rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being fuelled by recruits and support from neighbouring Rwanda.

An internal UN report seen by the BBC cited defecting soldiers, who said they had been trained in Rwanda under the pretext of joining the army, before being sent over the border to fight. BBC

Real World American Cannibal

The coming age of Poland

Germans used to think of Poland as a country full of car thieves and post-communist drabness. On the eve of hosting the European Football Championship, however, the country has become the most astonishing success story in Eastern Europe. Relations between Berlin and Warsaw have never been better.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Settler shot a villager

Throughout the day, there were reports of settlers from Yitzhar trying to set fire to Palestinian olive groves near the village of Urif, south of Nablus in the West Bank. The entire area is know for its frequent confrontations between settlers and local farmers. A team from B’Tselem who arrived at the spot caught one of the attacks on camera; Sarit Michaeli, spokesperson for B’Tselem who filmed the video, told me she had a very clear view of the settlers torching the field. 972

Krugman thinks Greece is toast

“No. I don’t think they can save Greece but they can still save the rest if they’re willing to offer open-ended financing and macroeconomic expansion.” But this would mean persuading the Germans to change their philosophy of economic life. “Well, the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind; the prospect of a collapse of the euro might concentrate their minds.” FT

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nightmare scenario in Egyptian result


Egypt has provided the country with two shit sandwiches for next month run off election. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mursi, takes the first spot. The surprising result comes from the second placed candidate, Ahmed Shafiq. He is an ex general and one of the inner circle of the Mubarak regime. He was the PM chosen by Mubarak during the 18 days revolution in 2011.

Amr Mousa, Egypt ex Foreign Minister and one of the early favorite, performed poorly at the poll. Abou Fotouah, an ex MB split the votes with a left wing popular candidate Hamdeen.

It is important that Egypt has a secular President to counter balance its Islamist dominated parliament but if the choice is Shafiq, it is better to end up with Mursi and go MB all the way.

In comparison, this is as if the US has to choose between Santorum and Gingrich this upcoming election.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An interview with Neil Armstrong

“A month before the launch of Apollo 11, we decided we were confident enough we could try and attempt on a descent to the surface,” said Armstrong. “I thought we had a 90% chance of getting back safely to Earth on that flight but only a 50-50 chance of making a landing on that first attempt. There are so many unknowns on that descent from lunar orbit down to the surface that had not been demonstrated yet by testing and there was a big chance that there was something in there we didn’t understand properly and we had to abort and come back to Earth without landing.” TPM

My hero.

Egyptian Historic Presidential Election

Today is the second day. So far so good. We should get initial results later tonight.

Race Riot in Tel Aviv

Against the African Migrants.

Ring of Fire from around the world

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Debunking a HIV myth

Does circumcision reduce the spread of HIV? Not so much.

Egyptian is voting for President today

The voting will last for two days.

There are 13 candidates running for President but only 5 are considered as viable:

  • Amr Moussa. An ex chief of Arab League and Egypt's Foreign Minister in the
  • Safiq. Ex Prime Minister under Mubarak Regime (short lived) and Transportation Minister.
  • Moursi. The spare part candidate from Muslim Brotherhood after their primary candidate was disqualified.
  • Abu Fotuoah. An ex MB membership (quit last year).
  • Hamdeen. A Nasseris and ex Egyptian MP.
The worse of these candidates are Safiq, which represents a rewind to the Mubarak regime. There rest are so so although preferably MB related candidates do not come near to the Presidency. 

Multiverse For Dummy

Brian Green attempts to explain it
In the 1980s, physicist Alan Guth offered an enhanced version of the big-bang theory, called inflationary cosmology, which promised to fill this critical gap. The centerpiece of the proposal is a hypothetical cosmic fuel that, if concentrated in a tiny region, would drive a brief but stupendous outward rush of space—a bang, and a big one at that. In fact, mathematical calculations showed that the burst would have been so intense that tiny jitters from the quantum realm would have been stretched enormously and smeared clear across space. Like overextended spandex showing the pattern of its weave, this would yield a precise pattern of miniscule temperature variations, slightly hotter spots and slightly colder spots dotting the night sky. In the early 1990s, NASA’s Cosmic Microwave Background Explorer satellite first detected these temperature variations, garnering Nobel Prizes for team leaders John Mather and George Smoot.

Remarkably, mathematical analysis also revealed—and here’s where the multiverse enters—that as space expands the cosmic fuel replenishes itself, and so efficiently that it is virtually impossible to use it all up. Which means that the big bang would likely not be a unique event. Instead, the fuel would not only power the bang giving rise to our expanding realm, but it would power countless other bangs, too, each yielding its own separate, expanding universe. Our universe would then be a single expanding bubble inhabiting a grand cosmic bubble bath of universes—a multiverse.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Successful launch of first private rocket to dock with IIS

The second time’s the charm for SpaceX. This morning at 3:44 a.m. EDT the company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off of Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral. After a faulty valve caused an aborted liftoff Saturday, today’s successful launch marks the third flight of the Falcon 9 rocket, the second flight of the Dragon capsule, and the first flight for a commercial spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.Wired

This is wonderful. We need more private enterprises to get involved with rocket launch and space.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

One question on Facebook IPO

In other words: in order to make some $67 million for its Investment Banking unit, [7] was MS forced to eat a several hundred million loss in its sales and trading division just to avoid looking like the world's worst underwriter ever? We won't know for a while, but in the meantime, here is a visual summary of the key events during yesterday's far less than historic IPO. (Zero Hedge)
MS stands for Morgan Stanley, the sole underwriter for Facebook IPO. If you follow the link, it has technical charts on what happened during the first day of Facebook IPO.

JP Morgan's woes are not over yet

The unit at the centre of JPMorgan Chase’s $2bn trading loss has built up positions totalling more than $100bn in asset-backed securities and structured products – the complex, risky bonds at the centre of the financial crisis in 2008.

The unit, the chief investment office (CIO), has been the biggest buyer of European mortgage-backed bonds and other complex debt securities such as collateralised loan obligations in all markets for three years, more than a dozen senior traders and credit experts have told the Financial Times.

The bank has said its derivative activities were intended primarily to help balance risks on its overall balance sheet, but the revelation that it has built up other large, risky positions is likely to raise further questions about the CIO’s remit.

But the CIO has also dominated market activity and built up huge positions in other, equally esoteric markets, according to leading traders.

“I can’t see how they could unwind these positions because no one can replace them in terms of size. It’s a bit of the same problem they face with the derivatives trade,” said a credit trader at a rival bank. “They pretty much are the market.” FT
First rule in trading, don't become the market.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Financial Shark Feeding Frenzy

Remember that 2 billion dollars loses by JP Morgan, it is accelerating to 3 billion dollars.

This is happening because JP Morgan has to unwind its previous large position in the commercial index derivative market  and right now the other hedge funds are feasting on JP Morgan's losses.

Remember that this is a market, to unwind, they have to sell their stuff and there must be buyers. Buyers now can demand much lower prices that what JP Morgan originally purchased. There are more complicated details more than this but that's beyond my pay grade.

Lisa Pollack from the Financial Times is a really awesome journalist tracking on this financial mess.

A list of higher education technology blogs

The forbidden TED presentation

An uber wealthy venture capitalist argues that rich people do not create jobs, customers do Business Insider.
I can say with confidence that rich people don't create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a "circle of life" like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

So when businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it's a little like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it's the other way around.

Anyone who's ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a capitalists course of last resort, something we do only when increasing customer demand requires it. In this sense, calling ourselves job creators isn't just inaccurate, it's disingenuous.

That's why our current policies are so upside down. When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Texas Executed Innocent Man

Carlos DeLuna maintained his innocence from the moment he was arrested in 1983 for the stabbing death of a young Texas woman right up until he was executed six years later. On Monday, a Columbia University professor and a group of law students offered what appears to be definitive proof that DeLuna's mistaken-identity claims were the real deal and that an innocent man was put to death. Slate

It is bound to happen. Judicial system makes mistakes and when the penalty is as final as death penalty, there is no way to right the wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Thrilla in Manchester

Manchester City won the English Premier League in the last 5 minutes of their final game. Check out the amazing highlights from their final match against QPR here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dancing Dog wins Britain Got Talents

The 17-year-old and her pet beat favourites Jonathan and Charlotte to be crowned winners of the ITV reality show.

They charmed viewers with their fast-footed routine to the Mission Impossible theme.

Miss Butler, from Northampton, was in tears when presenters Ant and Dec broke the news. The Telegraph

This is the semi-final footage

Naked Protests

The hearing at the Interior Ministry is at 5 p.m., and they are in a hurry. They walk past tall, brown and gray buildings from the Stalin era. They discuss ways to put a positive spin on the expression "kiss my ass," which is what Oksana said to the Indian ambassador. "It was a happy protest. A happy protest for the rights of Ukrainian women," Oksana finally says. She's decided it's what she will say in the hearing at the Interior Ministry.

Shachko is a Ukrainian women's rights activist, and her weapons are attached to her pale, petite body like the two halves of an apple.

Her weapons are the symbol of femininity, motherhood and sexuality, and filmmakers and marketers have used them millions of times to sell everything under the sun, from yogurt to vacuum cleaners. They have put Oksana and her fight onto cover pages around the world, and they've made her and her fellow activists into the cover girls of an international protest movement -- the icons of a naked rebellion.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Dummy Guide to JP Morgan Financial Debacle

So. You are JPMorgan. People come to you and give you money, because you are a bank, and they want you to hold on to their money for them. You pay them interest so you need to invest their money to earn interest – ideally you earn more than you pay so you can make money and pay bonuses and stuff. You invest that money, broadly speaking, by lending it to other people who want to do things with it. Some of those people are buying houses, some of them are running businesses. Those are the main ones. (Some are buying cars, or educations; others are running countries, or municipalities. Ignore that.) dealbreaker
Follow the link for the clearest explanation on what's going on with JP Morgan 2 billion dollars (and rising) trade debacle. It tells you what CIO does (Chief Investment Office), etc.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Second, JP Morgan had been warned that something was amiss. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and the Zero Hedge website have been writing for weeks about the out-sized positions taken by the so-called London Whale. JP Morgan's response was to say it was "comfortable" with its positions. When outsiders know more about what's going on inside a big bank than the bank's own management, none of Dimon's adjectives does justice to the character of the cock-up. He even ended up saying he wished he'd paid more attention to the newspapers. Guardian

How the fuck can a bank lose 2 billion dollars in 6 weeks

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Chen Story

The scene at the hospital quickly became confused. The Chinese did not object to allowing an American diplomat to stay overnight, contrary to reports that prompted the criticism. As with much of the story, the moment turned less on geopolitics than on human relations. The diplomat, in fact, left because he believed that Mr. Chen wanted privacy with his wife.

Thursday was chaotic, as reports that the agreement had fallen apart led Republican critics to castigate the administration. At the hospital, Mr. Chen underwent lengthy examinations, preventing the Americans from contacting him directly. Doctors found that he was suffering not from cancer, but from colitis. NY Times
It's disheartening to see the early days of reporting full of speculation and bullshit.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Palestinian Queer Party

The group alQaws organizes the Palestinian Queer Party — its name for these monthly events. According to its website, alQaws works to “promote sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society” throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The monthly Arabic music extravaganza is meant to be a kind of free zone for Arab men and women to be gay — in their own culture, yet outside of society’s proscribed sexual and gender rules.

It’s inclusive, meaning fans of the community are welcome, and yet it’s discreet. It’s also a meet and greet and, for some, it may be their only outlet to gay culture in their otherwise straight lives.

Call it activism or pleasure seeking: The party celebrates both being Palestinian and being gay. Times of Israel
Israel remains the most gay friendly country in the Middle East - by far.

Salafists vs Right Wing in Germany

Germany's right-wing populists are fond of insulting Islam in order to attract attention. On Saturday, violence prone Salafists took the bait, resulting in a riot that left 29 police injured. Despite the clash, however, the anti-Islam party can continue to display their anti-Islam caricatures, a court has decided. Spiegel

Monday, May 07, 2012

Something to Aspire to

Passes in hand, Rothstein and Vroom flew for business. They flew for pleasure. They flew just because they liked being on planes. They bypassed long lines, booked backup itineraries in case the weather turned, and never worried about cancellation fees. Flight crews memorized their names and favorite meals.

Each had paid American more than $350,000 for an unlimited AAirpass and a companion ticket that allowed them to take someone along on their adventures. Both agree it was the best purchase they ever made, one that completely redefined their lives. La Times

These guys have unlimited flight tickets (all business) by paying American Airlines 350,000 USD once.

The meaning of Hollande's Victory in France

What is true is that Mr. Hollande’s victory means the end of “Merkozy,” the Franco-German axis that has enforced the austerity regime of the past two years. This would be a “dangerous” development if that strategy were working, or even had a reasonable chance of working. But it isn’t and doesn’t; it’s time to move on. Europe’s voters, it turns out, are wiser than the Continent’s best and brightest. Krugman

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Nine Planet Star system discovered

A star about 127 light-years from Earth may have even more planets than the sun, which would make the planetary system the most populated yet found.

According to a new study, HD 10180—a sunlike star in the southern constellation Hydrus—may have as many as nine orbiting planets, besting the eight official planets in our solar system. National Geographic

iPhone on a kite

Spirit Airlines to charge $100 for carry-on lugage

Spirit Airlines, it appears, does not care how much you hate bag fees. On Thursday, the company announced it would begin charging up to $100 for some carry-on bags. Not checked baggage, mind you. Carry-ons.

Spirit was already one of the only airlines with the gumption to force you to pay to load your bag in an overhead bin. It will now charge customers $35 for a carry-on when they book their ticket, and $50 if they settle up at check in. Only those who show up to the gate without having already paid will get hit with the full, whopping $100 fee. The Atlantic

I wonder how many more airlines will follow suit.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Latest bloody clashes in Cairo

It happened in the Abbaseya area of Cairo, home to the best Chinese food in Egypt, Al Ahzar University dormitory and Ain Shams University. The Ministry of Defense is also located in this area. Salah Salem street, one of major street in Cairo (and usually clogged with traffic) also passes this area.

The supporter of disqualified Presidential candidate Abu Ismail (salafist, late mom US citizen) have been camping out in front of the #mod (Ministry of Defense) for almost 10 days now. They have been harassed by "unknown group" and irked local residents during that time until it all spilled over four days ago in fierce clashes that resulted in 12 people dead and hundreds injured.

It did not get better.

Yesterday the clashes in the area continued. More people got injured and one was reportedly killed.

The Salafist protest has been joined  by multitude of groups in Cairo and for now it is the new battleground for fighting the military rule in Egypt.

Other than the worsening traffic jam, the life in Cairo remains unchanged. It is a weird situation to be in. The last strife in Egypt happened in the city of Port Said when 77 football fans killed in a rampage. A week long bloody clashes followed after that in downtown Cairo. These were in February.

And now Cairo is in the shit storm again.

The murderous gang wars in Mexico

23 dead bodies found in the Mexico's city of Nuevo Laredo. (news-ro)

Sorry for the grizzly picture but it's hard to describe shocking act of displaying the results of murders publicly with mere words.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Raving Review of Cairo's Subway System

A love note from NY Times
In this often capricious city, the Metro is something of a miracle. Efficient and orderly, it is frequently referred to as the one thing that always works.

That is not new, but it has become even more appreciated in the year after the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak, a period that heaped confusion on caprice, as the police vanished, people marched and Egyptians struggled to find their bearings.

A saying made the rounds, reflecting public impatience with the disorder and crediting the uprising with two irritating changes: the sudden addition of a digit to the nation’s cellphones and the change of satellite television frequencies. NY Times

Cairo Metro costs 18 US cents (1LE) each way and it runs on time (mostly). The only complain I have is that the subway ACs do not work properly in the Summer. The underground stations are cleaner and more spacious that the London tubes (definitely cleaner that NY). So yeah, the Metro is a wonder, in comparison to every other public transportation in Cairo.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Blind Man that China fears

He exited the US embassy in Beijing to great fanfare before the whole thing turned darker. Now he claimed that the Chinese officials threatened to beat his wife to death if he did not leave the embassy. This whole saga is still going on. NY Times has more reporting.

China is full of fucking petty and asshole officials and the whole political system deserves to burn down to the ground.

Things you only see in China

Azerbaijan is mad at Germany

In the run-up to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan on May 26, the country's human rights record has been in the spotlight. There have been a series of reports in the German and international media about alleged abuses by the regime of President Ilham Aliyev ever since the country gained the right to host the tournament by winning the 2011 competition. 
Now Baku is returning fire. In a statement issued earlier this week, the Azerbaijani Embassy in Berlin attacked an alleged media "campaign" against Azerbaijan led by "certain circles in Germany."Spiegel

Mad Men Wisdom

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Indonesia's Glorious Pigs

Fifteen drunken police officers reportedly assaulted patrons at a bar in Manado, North Sulawesi on Tuesday. The officers allegedly struck and pointed their guns at customers and trashed the bar. The Jakarta Globe

German non Austerity

Germany did not adopt austerity program but it does advocate one for those troubled European countries. 

Krugman has more.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

2 games to go : City won 1-0 against United

 Manchester City, a powerhouse built on the hundred of millions of Abu Dhabi's money, is back on top of UK Premier's League after beating its arch-rival Manchester United. City must win its 2 last games to ensure that they win this title after 44 years.