Monday, May 26, 2014

Give me strongman or give me death

Libya is preparing for elections next month, but many Libyans have long given up on their own parties paralysed by political infighting three years after the revolution and civil war that brought down Muammar Gaddafi.

Instead, Libyans look to their eastern neighbour where former army chief Sisi is expected to easily win this week's elections after his military forced out an elected Islamist president from office.

Tired of militias and Islamist militants filling a power vacuum left by a five weak prime ministers since 2011, many see the revival of strongman rule in Egypt as their dream scenario.

"Sisi is an outstanding man, a nationalist, a Muslim and an Arab. He is restoring stability and fighting terrorism," said Ali who uploaded Sisi's picture on his mobile phone. Reuters
I can't blame the Libyans for craving security and prosperity. For common people, all these "liberation and democracy" bring nothing but chaos and insecurity. This is why there are some support for the 'renegade general' Khalif Haftar's offensive against Islamist militias and Benghazi and Tripoli.
Now some also draw parallels to renegade former Libyan army general, Khalifa Haftar, who has declared war on Islamists and attacked militants in Benghazi in the east with his irregular forces. Some already call him "Libya's Sisi".

Gunmen who claimed loyalty to Haftar attacked the parliament in Tripoli a week ago to demand lawmakers hand over power, though the congress voted to support a new premier backed by the Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Modi Era

For the first time since 1984, a single political party in India will have majority in the 543-seat lower house of parliament, the country's apex legislative body, with partial election results showing a sharp swing to the right and indicating a landslide victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, as the new prime minister of the world's largest democracy. Asia Times

Indonesia’s presidential race isn’t until July. But there’s already one winner.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has taken over as acting governor of Jakarta, the first ethnic Chinese to do so.

A Christian, Basuki succeeds Joko Widodo who has stepped aside to run for the presidential election on July 9, which opinion polls suggest he will win. Basuki will automatically take over to complete Joko’s five-year term if he does win.

Indonesia’s Chinese make up only about 2 percent of the 240 million population.

Resented for their wide control over trade and business, and suspected of loyalty to China, Indonesian-Chinese have been deliberately kept out of the political and military hierarchy for most of the country’s almost 70 years of independence. The Jakarta Globe
I won't be surprised if he will become the President of Indonesia someday. The guy is ruthlessly competent and incorruptible. His boss, the Governor of Jakarta, is poised to become Indonesia's President this July.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Qatar's promised reform

Qatar has promised to scrap key elements of its controversial labour laws, in the wake of an international outcry over conditions for migrant workers before the 2022 World Cup, which followed a Guardian investigation into workplace abuse in the Gulf state.
Officials said they would replace the country's "kafala" sponsorship system, which tethers workers to a single employer, who can therefore treat his workforce with impunity, pending the approval of a draft law.

Qatar's World Cup 2022 has the worst construction record in Football World Cup history with over 1000 construction workers fatalities so far.

Raging in Vietnam

The navy altercation between Vietnam and China last week have the potential of starting a shooting war between two countries.

Yesterday hundreds of Vietnamese rampage through some factories thought to be Chinese owned.
A 1,000-strong mob stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam overnight, killing a Chinese worker and injuring 90 others, Taiwan's ambassador said Thursday, the first deadly incident in a wave of anti-China protests prompted by Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in disputed seas. AP

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Hutterites

Beautiful pictures taken of a Hutterite community in Canada

By Kelly Hofer

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Simulation of the universe

The Illustris project is a set of large-scale cosmological simulations, including the most ambitious simulation of galaxy formation yet performed. The calculation tracks the expansion of the universe, the gravitational pull of matter onto itself, the motion or "hydrodynamics" of cosmic gas, as well as the formation of stars and black holes. These physical components and processes are all modeled starting from initial conditions resembling the very young universe 300,000 years after the Big Bang and until the present day, spanning over 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution. The simulated volume contains tens of thousands of galaxies captured in high-detail, covering a wide range of masses, rates of star formation, shapes, sizes, and with properties that agree well with the galaxy population observed in the real universe. We are currently working to make detailed comparisons of our simulation box to these observed galaxy populations, and some exciting promising results have already been published. Illustris Project

Boko Haram - the origin story

Its nickname in the African language of Hausa, Boko Haram, is usually roughly translated to mean that “deceptive” or “Western” education is “forbidden.” But scholars say that the phrase had a kind of double meaning that was at once religious and social in the context of northern Nigeria.

Western education was available only to a very small elite who typically traveled to British universities and then returned to rule from the capital over the impoverished North, and ending the tyranny of that elite was the main objective of Mr. Yusuf’s movement.

Mr. Yusuf and Boko Haram tapped into growing anger among northern Nigerians at their poverty and lack of opportunity as well as the humiliating abuses of the government’s security forces, said Paul Lubeck, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies the group. At first, even as Boko Haram turned to violent opposition to the government, the group avoided civilian casualties.

“They generated a lot of support because they didn’t kill many innocent people,” Professor Lubeck said.

That changed in July, 2009, after about 70 Boko Haram fighters armed with guns and hand grenades attacked a mosque and police station in the town of Bauchi. About 55 people were killed in the battle, according to an American diplomatic cable about the episodes that was later released by WikiLeaks.

The next day, Nigerian security forces retaliated with a brutal crackdown that killed more than 700 people, including many innocent bystanders. Security officers paraded Mr. Yusuf before television cameras and then summarily executed him in front of a crowd outside a police station — an episode that the group’s adherents often recall with horror as the decisive moment in their turn to wider violence. NY Times
 And girls and boys, that how we end up with Boko Haram 2.0.