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David Sedaris Reads From His 'Santaland Diaries'
It's tradition! Writer and humorist David Sedaris reflects on his short tenure as Crumpet the Elf at Macy's. Sedaris first read the "Santaland Diaries" on Morning Edition in 1992 — and instantly, a classic was born.
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december 2012
For Syrian refugees, winter makes a harsh life rougher
YAYLADAGI, Turkey — Um Khalid is contemplating selling some of the bare-bones food ration given to Syrian refugees to buy winter clothes for her eight children.
“I was thinking I could buy something every month for one child that way,” she said, explaining her pained calculation as she served instant coffee heated on a hot plate in the tent that has sheltered the family since they fled Syria 18 months ago.
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United_Nations  Turkish_government  from google
december 2012
An expressway outside New Delhi mirrors India’s problems and promise
Laptop bag in one hand and Blackberry in the other, investment banker Saurabh Chawla slid into his black Mercedes-Benz one morning and headed to his job in the Indian capital.
He cruised past luxury hotels, malls and glass-fronted IT companies on an eight-lane suburban expressway but then hit a sea of vehicles crawling toward a tollgate.
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J_P_Morgan_Chase_&_Co  luxury_hotels  from google
december 2012
U.N. Seeks New Aid for Syria Crisis
The increased refugee estimate represents at least the fourth time the United Nations has revised its projections upward in the nearly two-year-old uprising.
Assad_Bashar_al-  Middle_East_and_North_Africa_Unrest_(2010-_)  United_Nations  Lebanon  Refugees_and_Displaced_Persons  Syria  Humanitarian_Aid  Jordan  Turkey  from google
december 2012
Slavery's Global Comeback
Buying and selling people into forced labor is bigger than ever. What "human trafficking" really means.Slaves pan for gold in Accra, Ghana. Some have children with them as they wade into water poisoned by mercury used in the extraction process. (Lisa Kristine) RANGOON, Burma -- Earlier this year, Ko Lin, 21 at the time, left his hometown of Bago, 50 miles northeast of Rangoon, along with a friend to look for work in Myawaddy, near the Thai border. The two found jobs there as day laborers loading and offloading goods, anything from rice to motorcycles, that were being illicitly transported by truck in and out of Thailand. After a month, Ko Lin had saved up the equivalent of about US$150 and decided to rejoin his family in Bago. Stopping first to pray at a local pagoda with, he and his friend met a super-amiable young woman who ended up pitching an opportunity to work in Thailand. Her uncle, she said, could arrange great jobs for them there.Ko Lin was reluctant but bent to his friend's enthusiasm. The uncle turned out to be a trafficker who sold the two into forced labor in Chonburi, a city 60 miles east of Bangkok. They were taken there by an irregular route that involved walking through the jungle for eight days. Several weeks after arriving in Chonburi, Ko Lin was told he'd now be working at sea. When he resisted, he was knocked unconscious and woke up separated from his friend on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Thailand. From this point on, for months, he rarely if ever had more than two hours of sleep a night, always on a shared, cramped bed; he was given three meals only on days when the captain felt he'd pulled in enough fish to earn it; and when he was fed at all, it was always dregs from a catch that couldn't be sold on the market. His arms regularly became infected from the extended exposure of minor wounds to sea water. If he complained that he was feeling unwell, the crew would beat him. He was injured multiple times by heavy blocks or booms, once having to tend to a head wound with a handful of wet rice. Three months out, Ko Lin was rescued in a police raid. There are now twice as many people enslaved in the world as there were in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade. Ma Moe, 34, and her husband lived in a suburb about an hour outside Rangoon, poor enough that on some days they had nothing to eat. A friend offered her a job as a domestic worker in China where, she was told, she could make between $100 and $200 a month. Despite her husband's objections, she decided to go. Near the border, her friend told her the trip would soon get rough and she should take some pills so as not to get carsick. The pills knocked her out almost immediately. When she came to, she was in a small village in China; she still doesn't know where. Kept with a few other women in a small house, Ma Moe was then taken around to different villages where she was offered up for sale as a "wife." After a failed escape attempt, when she was beaten by local police, a man from northern China bought her. By now, having spent a month-and-a-half as a Burmese commodity on a Chinese black market, she could hardly eat from the stress and was emaciated. Her owner was concerned -- he wanted a child -- so he had Ma Moe's blood tested; the results showed that she's HIV-positive; and he ended up abandoning her at the bus station. With no hope of being able to get back to Burma, she prayed to die. But a young newspaper seller, fending off an attempt by another apparent trafficker to get Ma Moe to go with him, called a police hotline for trafficking victims. The police coordinated Ma Moe's transfer to a Burmese anti-trafficking task force, and they ultimately took her home.There's a plain-language word for the horror stories that Ko Lin and Ma Moe have survived, as anachronistic as it might sound: slavery. Contemporary slavery is real, and it's terribly common -- here in Burma, across Southeast Asia, and around the world.The leading demographic accounts of contemporary slavery project a global slave population of between 20 million and 30 million people. The highest ratios of slaves worldwide are from South and Southeast Asia, along with China, Russia, and the former satellite states of the Soviet Union. There is a significant slave presence across North Africa and the Middle East, including Lebanon. There is also a major slave trade in Africa. Descent-based slavery persists in Mauritania, where children of slaves are passed on to their slave-holders' children. And the North Korean gulag system, which holds 200,000 people, is essentially a constellation of slave-labor camps. Most of the world's slaves are in sedentary forms of servitude, such as hereditary collateral-debt bondage, but about 20 percent have been unwittingly trafficked by predators through deception and coercion. Human trafficking is often highly mobile and dynamic, leveraging modern communications and logistics in the same basic ways contemporary business does generally. After the earthquake of 2010 devastated Haiti, Hispaniola was quickly overrun with opportunistic traffickers targeting children to sell into forced domestic work or brothels. As pervasive as contemporary slavery is, it hasn't come clearly into focus as a global issue until relatively recently. There are a couple of big reasons why -- one having to do with the scale of the problem, the other with the idea of slavery itself.The ScaleThe International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates the number of slaves in the world today at around 21 million. Kevin Bales, of Free the Slaves -- the U.S. affiliate of the world's oldest human-rights organization, the U.K.-based Anti-Slavery International -- (and the author of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy) puts it at 27 million. Siddharth Kara of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy says more than 29 million.That range represents a tightening consensus. In the 1990s, some accounts had the world's slave population as high as 100 million; others had it as low as 2 million. "It was nuts," says Bales. "I traced all these numbers back. The 100-million number, I finally found this guy in India who'd said it at at UN conference. I asked him, 'How did you get that?' And he said, 'I don't know, it was just a guess.' So nobody had the number."Bales's 27 million -- which as a statistician he considers a "conservative estimate" -- is derived from secondary-source analysis. "It's still not great," he says, "in the sense that it's not based on random-sample surveys at the grass-roots level. We're doing that now, though, building much sounder numbers, and they're still coming out in the same range. ... So we're getting closer."In which case, assuming even the rough accuracy of 27 million, there are likely more slaves in the world today than there have been at any other time in human history. For some quick perspective on that point: Over the entire 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade, 13.5 million people were taken out of Africa, meaning there are twice as many enslaved right now as there had been in that whole 350-year span.The IdeaSome of what's obscured contemporary slavery, then, has been a matter of quantitative analysis; but some has been conceptual: In the West, and particularly in the United States, slavery has long settled in the public imagination as being categorically a thing of the past.One consequence of this is that when people apply the idea of slavery to current events, they tend to think of it as an analogy. That is, they tend to use the word to dramatize conditions that may be exploitive -- e.g., terrible wages or toxic working environments -- but that we'd never on their own call "slavery" if the kind of forced labor we used to call "slavery" still existed. "In 1994, when I was in the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery," Bales recalls, "a group came in and said they wanted the UN to declare incest a form of slavery. And we were like, incest is incest; you don't have to call it slavery."But there's an inverse consequence to seeing slavery as a thing of the past, too: It can mean having a harder time recognizing slavery when it's right in front of us.A slave in Kathmandu, Nepal, stacks 18 bricks at a time, each weighing four pounds, carrying them to nearby trucks for 18 hours a day. (Lisa Kristine) Right after the end of the Cold War, people in Western cities -- in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York -- started noticing something pronounced about migration patterns out of the just-collapsed Soviet Bloc: The "immigrants" were disproportionately young women and girls. I took no one long to understand that these were prostitutes -- or much longer to understand that they weren't operating freely; criminals were trafficking them out of Eurasia effectively as black-market goods, like opium or Kalashnikovs.The dominant rhetoric that the coalition of Christian conservatives and anti-prostitution feminists who took the lead on this issue used at the time wasn't "slavery" but "trafficking for sexual exploitation." Around the same time, a movement started against sweatshop labor that developed its focus not broadly on the issue of forced labor but narrowly on the conditions of the sweatshops themselves, sometimes even just on safety issues within them.Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. ambassador at large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, sees both of these frameworks as inhibiting and, intentionally or not, ways to feel too comfortable about addressing the issues in question. "If we say the problem with domestic servants is that they're not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and so let's just go out and make sure they get covered by labor laws around the world, we get to ignore, for example, the fact that domestic servants are being locked in and raped. It's not a wage issue; it's a crime issue. If we look at prostitution and we devolve back to the old debates about whether prostitution should be legal and regulated, should it be illegal and criminalized, we won't say, '... hey, why doesn't the 13th … [more]
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december 2012
What a Bosnian Mass Grave Can Teach Us About Syria's Civil War
As the Syria conflict rages, a recent war-crimes trial might offer a preview of things to come.
Mejra Dzogaz searches for the names of her killed relatives in a memorial plaque in Potocari, near Srebrenica, on May 17, 2012. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)
Nearly a decade has passed since I first visited a mass grave in Bosnia, but I can still remember it vividly. Not just because of the sight of the decomposing bodies, as our outstanding investigators and expert exhumation team helped free them from their earthen coffin, but because of the scent. The scent of death is oddly sticky, and sweet. It nauseates -- as if we are preconditioned to object to death and destruction. It clings to your clothes, even after you've left an exhumation. And the smell trails you around -- as if to remind you that -- as you live your life -- others have been cut short. It is this scent -- and memory of the approximately 8,000 lives that were cut short -- that came to mind when l learned that Zdravko Tolimir had been sentenced to life by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
I know what you might be thinking: "who is Zdravko Tolimir?" That is a fair question, because much of the world's media left Bosnia long ago, to cover more recent tragedies, including the current tragedy-in-slow-motion in Syria, so it is unlikely that you know his name. And but for his role in the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War, few of us would.
Zdravko Tolimir is a former assistant commander and chief for intelligence and security of the main staff of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS). And in July 1995, when the U.N. "safe area" of Srebrenica fell to the VRS, Tolimir and his fellow henchmen, including General Ratko Mladic, undertook largest murder operation in Europe since the Holocaust.
In the days following the Bosnian Serb's capture of Srebrenica, thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys were rounded up and murdered, at the hands of Mladic and Tolimir's comrades. Some were killed opportunistically, but most were murdered in a full-scale military operation: hands were tied, eyes were blindfolded, and men and boys were lined up before freshly dug mass graves and shot in the back. In some cases, lighting was set-up, so the killings could continue through the night.
When time didn't permit the digging of mass graves, their captors chose to murder them where they were detained -- opening up fire with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades -- within a warehouse in Kravica and theater in Pilica -- slaughtering thousands of unarmed civilians, just up the road from Srebrenica. Later, earth-moving equipment would be used to remove the dead -- and perhaps some living -- and deposit them into mass graves.
It is estimated that over 8,000 men and boys were executed after the July 11, 1995, fall of Srebrenica.
But the trial of Zdravko Tolimir was not just about the slaughter. As the tribunal judges stated: "the suffering these men went through in the moments leading up to their deaths must have been unbearable. On many occasions, those who were waiting to be shot saw others before them executed. The few survivors who lived to provide their testimony before the Chamber gave harrowing accounts of what they had to endure."
In their judgment, the judges found that the crimes committed "were massive in scale, severe in their intensity and devastating in their effect."
And the effect has an impact not just on the dead, but on the survivors as well. Indeed, the tribunal's judgment considered "the extreme suffering of the approximately 30,000-35,000 women and children forcibly removed from both enclaves, and their inability to live a normal and constructive life to this day."
So whether you were slaughtered, or you survived Srebrenica, the effects are permanent. And what pains me, as a witness to the international community's belated response to Srebrenica, and as someone who helped, in some small way, investigate and prosecute this slaughter, is how the international community, again, is mostly standing by, watching in Syria, as we did in Bosnia.
For all those who worked on the case -- the investigators, the analysis, the prosecutors, and of course, the witnesses who risked so much to tell their stories in The Hague, the genocide conviction and life imprisonment of Zdravko Tolimir is a huge victory of justice -- and one hopes -- some small solace to those who were slaughtered, and those who survived, the genocide. But perhaps the greatest justice could be found in ensuring a way for the international community to act, to prevent such slaughters. For whether they are yesterday's mass graves in Bosnia, or today's mass graves in Syria, the sick, sticky scent of death will linger, long after the international community fails to act.
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december 2012
Europe Court Finds Violation in C.I.A. Rendition
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Macedonia violated the rights of Khaled el-Masri when it arrested him and turned him over to the United States.
Masri_Khaled_el-  Central_Intelligence_Agency  Torture  United_States  Terrorism  Germany  Human_Rights_and_Human_Rights_Violations  European_Court_of_Human_Rights  Macedonia  Extraordinary_Rendition  from google
december 2012
Interactive Map: The U.S. Shooting Epidemic
Friday’s horrific Colorado shooting has reignited the debate on gun control. Just how bad is the problem?
us-news  from google
december 2012
America’s demographic squeeze: Double bind
ALTHOUGH America’s fiscal problems are among the worst in the rich world, its policymakers long took comfort that, when it came to demography, its outlook was one of the best. Because Americans have so many babies and welcome so many immigrants, they had more room to deal with the coming burden of pensions and health care for the elderly.But the savage recession of 2007-09 and its aftermath have not just deepened America’s fiscal hole; they have weakened those demographic advantages. America’s fertility rate has been falling since 2007, as has net immigration. Compounding this, the share of the population that is active in the labour force has slipped, both because of ageing and because of the recession’s lingering effects.On December 12th the Census Bureau said America’s projected population would rise 27% to 400m by 2050. That is 9% less than it projected for that year back in 2008. Those 65 and over will grow to 22% of the population by 2060 from 14% now, while the working-age population slips to 57% from 63%. ...
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december 2012
Q and Answer: How to Wear A Pocket Square Aaron writes us to...
Q and Answer: How to Wear A Pocket Square

Aaron writes us to ask: I just started using pocket squares, and am not sure how to wear them best. Do you have any tips? Should they match my tie? How about my shirt? What’s the best way to put them in the pocket?

The guiding principle for pocket squares isn’t too different from the guiding principle on how to dress well in general. You don’t want to look like you didn’t put in any effort (e.g. sweatpants, flip flops, and a dirty t-shirt), but you also don’t want to look like you put in too much effort (e.g. looking like you stepped out of a fashion spread). Neither looks particularly natural or good.

For pocket squares, that means not picking things at random, otherwise your square can become a distracting element, but also not matching things too closely, otherwise you’ll look too studied. Instead, you want to your pocket square to be complementary to whatever else you’re wearing. It should seem like you grabbed something at random (even though you didn’t) and things just happened to work out well. Which means:

Color (With Respect to Your Jacket): Make sure your pocket square is a somewhat distinctive piece. If you’re wearing a navy sport coat, don’t wear a navy pocket square. Instead, choose a color that stands out a bit more, such as burgundy, brown, or even white, but don’t venture into something too loud. Again, you want this to look harmonious, not distracting.

Color (With Respect to Your Tie): You never want your pocket square and tie to match. Tie + pocket square sets made from the same fabric should never be worn (let alone bought), but you should also not recreate this kind of look with whatever items you have on hand.

Color wise, you want your pocket square to complement, but not directly mirror, your tie. There are two ways of thinking about this. The first is to choose something that subtly picks up a secondary color in your tie. So if you have a burgundy tie with navy and cream pencil stripes, you can choose a pocket square with a bit of cream to pick up the color in your tie. You would not want, however, to pick a pocket square in the exact same shade of burgundy, as this would look contrived.

The other way of thinking about this is to pick a square in color that complements the main color of your tie. That can mean choosing things in a slightly different shade, or in a color that’s either adjacent or directly across on the color wheel (navy put with a medium blue, or a dark green put with burgundy). This is somewhat trickier, however, because you run a greater risk of your pocket square either looking too thought out, or chosen at random. Best to judge on a case-to-case basis.

Material: Silk or wool pocket squares can generally be worn with almost anything, although silk – especially cream or white silk – will look a bit dressier, especially if it has a “wet,” rather than a “dry,” finish. The shinier a square is, the more formal it can look. Linen is also very versatile, except maybe with tweeds and corduroy, where a silk or wool square might be better. The traditional white linen goes with pretty much anything, however. Cotton squares should be kept to summer suits, and wool has a cold-weather feel. 

Personally, I like wearing a square in a different material than my tie. So wool squares with silk ties, silk squares with wool ties, etc. This is just a personal preference, however. 

How to Fold: Gilt Manual covered the three main methods. I wear mine using a slightly different technique, which is shown here by Michael Alden. I find that produces a more appealing “puff,” but you can use whatever works best for you. Just don’t use a needlessly fancy fold that makes your pocket square look like origami, and if you wear your pocket square with the points up, don’t have them stick six inches into the air. Again, you want this element to be tasteful, harmonious, and charming, but not distracting.

The Reliable White Linen: When in doubt, wear a white linen in the TV fold (or what Gilt Manual called the “traditional fold”). You’re almost always safe with that.

(Pictured above: StyleForum member Manton)
Gilt_Manual  Michael_Alden  Pocket_Squares  Handkerchiefs  Q_and_Answer  StyleForum  Manton  from google
december 2012
Baltimore Says, 'Immigrants Welcome'
Baltimore's population has been declining for decades. Now the city is reaching beyond its borders for growth, courting immigrants with new programs and laws. The big question: Will it work?
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december 2012
Smuggling Is on the Rise Off Southern California Coast
As security along the Mexican border has tightened, the waters off Southern California have been teeming with smugglers, as drug cartels seek new avenues to move illicit cargo into the United States.
Ships_and_Shipping  Drug_Abuse_and_Traffic  Mexico  Drug_Cartels  California  Smuggling  from google
december 2012
Bangladesh Factory Where Fire Killed 112 Had Been Ruled Unsafe
The eight-story garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, where a fire killed more than 100 people and injured dozens more in the deadliest workplace catastrophe to hit the country in years, had lost its fire safety certification several months before.
Flames Take Factory

Firefighters struggled to contain a massive fire that ignited inside an 8-story garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka on November 24. A total of 112 people died in the blaze, which raged through the night. Photo: Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Charred Reminders

A man hoists the charred remains of what he said was a piece of cloth belonging to his missing sister-in-law, who worked at the eight-story factory, called Tazreen Fashions, that burned. It was Bangladesh's worst workplace-related disaster in years. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Voicing Concern

Workers shouted slogans and demanded justice for the victims and better working conditions. Bangladesh’s apparel industry is a major engine of revenue for the South Asian country's economy. The nation is currently the second leading exporter of clothing after China, and some predict its exports will triple by 2020, reaching as much as $42 billion. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Drawing a Line

Police officers gather in front of the scorched factory, which became a scene of intense protest by workers and labor activists in the days following the blaze. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Taking to the Streets

Thousands of protesters took to the streets, blocking traffic, throwing stones and shouting demands. Similar fires have killed hundreds of workers in Bangladesh in recent years. The U.S. State Department reported last year that safety conditions at many factories there "were extremely poor.” Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Sifting Through Ashes

A firefighter sifts through burnt devastation. Fire officials have said the blaze began on the first floor after stacks of yarn and fabric caught fire. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Working Overtime

One garment industry official who spoke with the New York Times at the scene of the fire said that many workers had left for the day when it broke out around 7 p.m., but as many as 600 workers were still inside working overtime. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Mass Graves

Bodies of unidentified garment workers were lined up the Tuesday after, before a mass burial for them took place at a graveyard in Dhaka. Garment factories around the country closed their doors for the day to mourn the deaths. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Calling for Change

Factory conditions are a point of extreme conflict both in and outside of Bangladesh. Workers and labor organizers have clashed with police in recent years over wages and what they describe as unsafe work environments and lax oversight by government officials. Labor rights groups in the U.S. and Europe have called for major retailers to institute better conditions and to agree to independent factory inspections. Photo: Photo by Andrew Biraj/REUTERS
Burying the Victims

In the two weeks since the blaze, fire officials say they have inspected more than 200 factories in the area where Tazreen operated and have found that more than one-quarter of those lack adequate safety licenses and fire-fighting equipment, according to the Associated Press.

It was also discovered that Tazreen should have been closed months prior to the incident, because it failed to meet basic safety standards. Photo: STRINGER/ AFP/ Getty Images
Sorting Through Debris

Debris recovered from the fire showed that Tazreen had been producing clothing for a number of large western retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears.

Both companies have stated that they were unaware the factory was still servicing their brands. Wal-Mart says it told subcontractors to cease doing business with it months prior to the incident. Photo: REUTERS/ Andrew Biraj
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december 2012
Aleutia Relia Industrial PC Review: Ivy Bridge & Q77 in a Fanless Chassis
Industrial PCs come with stringent requirements that are not satisfied by generic PCs. It is customary for builders to use active cooling in order to ensure that the components are in proper working order. Ventilation slots are also provided to keep airflow up. Chassis size is also not always a concern. However, these flexibilities are not always possible in industrial PCs. Operating environments for such systems usually call for passive cooling, dust resistance, rugged nature and minimal size (read, mini-ITX).

We have already covered the launch of a few industrial PCs including that of the Aleutia Relia which is being reviewed today. The specifications of the Aleutia Relia also make it attractive to users who are picky about having a completely silent machine in their media center. How well does the Aleutia Relia fare in our benchmarks? What are the effects of going in for a fully passive thermal solution? Read on to find out.
Industrial_PC  from google
december 2012
Openness, accessibility, and the political geography of academic communication
Publication year: 2012Source:Political Geography, Volume 31, Issue 5Philip E. Steinberg
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december 2012
Celebrity geopolitics
Publication year: 2012Source:Political Geography, Volume 31, Issue 7Matthew C. Benwell, Klaus Dodds, Alasdair Pinkerton
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december 2012
Agamben in the Ogaden: Violence and sovereignty in the Ethiopian–Somali frontier
Publication year: 2012Source:Political Geography, Volume 31, Issue 4Tobias Hagmann, Benedikt Korf This paper asks what makes the periphery or the frontier a prime locus of the “inclusionary exclusion” that is, according to Giorgio Agamben, so constitutive of the state of exception. By applying Agamben’s analytics to the Ogaden – a frontier province of the Ethiopian state – we propose an interpretation of the political history of the Ethiopian Ogaden as a recurrent government by exception that spans the Imperial rule (c. 1890–1974), the socialist dictatorship of the Derg (1974–1991), and the current revolutionary democratic regime led by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) (1991–today). Drawing attention to the historical continuities in the exercise of (Ethiopian) state sovereignty in its (Somali) frontier, we offer a genealogy of the violent incorporation of the Ogaden into the Ethiopian body politic. We identify recurring practices of sovereign power by successive Ethiopian regimes that are constitutive of the state of exception, namely a conflation between law and lawlessness, the politics of bare life and an encampment strategy. By doing so, this paper insists on the constitutive importance of land appropriation – Carl Schmitt’s Landnahme – in performances of sovereignty and territorialization at the margins of the postcolonial state. Highlights ► Violence at the margins of the state is an expression of state sovereignty. ► Conceptualizes the political geography of the state frontier. ► Historic continuity of the ‘state of exception’ in the pastoral periphery. ► Unearths political dynamics in the Ethiopian Ogaden with an Agambian analysis.
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december 2012
Abandoned spaces and bare life in the enclaves of the India–Bangladesh border
Publication year: 2012Source:Political GeographyHosna J. Shewly Based on an ethnography of the enclaves in India and Bangladesh, this paper explores enclave dwellers lived experiences of vulnerability where life is trapped in-between two states. These enclaves are geographically located in one country but politically and legally belong to another. The absence of a home country's rule of law and the irregular presence of the host country's sovereign power and control construct, in Giorgio Agamben's terms, a ‘space of exception’ where everyday life is characterised by exclusion from legal rights, but nonetheless subject to law, socio-political exploitation and gendered violence. By situating Agamben's ‘bare life’ in these enclaves, this paper argues that the conceptualisation of bare life as solely a sovereign production paints an inadequate picture of the zone of abandonment. The paper argues that in addition to the sovereign creation of bare life, social and gendered dimensions are essential for a nuanced approach to this concept. Highlights ► The paper shows an insight where bare life is produced by a state of abandonment. ► Two sovereign powers' overlapping roles constructed the enclave's space of exception. ► Modifying Agamben's formulation, I argue there are different forms of bare life. ► Social and gendered dimensions are essential for a nuanced approach to bare life.
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december 2012
Photographs from the American Southwest


—01. Published by Damiani.


Released at the end of last month Dan Martensen's first book, entitled Photographs from the American Southwest, is a beautiful look at the landscapes of the area, and what the photographer calls “these relics of man”. The 160 page book is also available as part of a 200 limited edition which includes a signed copy of the book, along with a custom box and limited edition 8×10 signed c-print.

—Dan Martensen
—i-D Magazine Interview
Dan_Martensen_Photography_Publications_i-D_Magazine  from google
november 2012
A Tale of Two Camps: Syrian Refugees Inside and Outside Turkey's Border
Click on map for larger version.
YAYLADAGI, Turkey -- It's a brilliant fall morning in Yayladagi #1, a refugee camp on the grounds of a former tobacco processing factory in southern Turkey. We're just three miles from the Syrian border, and camp translator Jamal Akgol is showing us down the rows of waxed canvas tents constructed to house thousands of refugees fleeing the carnage at home. "Whatever they need, they have," Akgol said with some pride. "And they do not have to pay for anything."
Every tent boasts a TV satellite dish and an electricity hookup to power its lights, heater, refrigerator and cooktop. The old stucco tobacco warehouses now provide classrooms for the 1,000-plus children, a medical clinic, showers and laundry facility with washing machines. Street sweepers even patrol the walkways armed with dustbin and brush.
Yayladagi #1 refugee camp in Turkey. Photos by Sebastian Rich for PBS NewsHour.
The Turks set up this camp in May 2011 for people fleeing the Syrian army's initial assaults on protestors against President Bashar al-Assad. It rapidly filled to its 2,400 capacity, the first wave in a flood of some 115,000 who've taken shelter in Turkey's government-run camps. "Neither they nor we know when they'll go back," Akgol said. "But there's nothing on the other side for them. Over there, they would die from attacks, or hunger."
We saw the truth of that on Wednesday, at a makeshift camp for displaced people about three miles on the other side of the Syrian border, near the town of Atmeh in Idlib Province. Hastily constructed just two months ago by a young Aleppo man who calls himself Farouk, it rapidly filled with 3,000 people who'd been driven from home by the regime's latest campaign of aerial bombardment in areas held by the rebel Free Syrian Army.
"We escaped at first light one morning, before the bombing started again," said Khadejah Al Darwish, who arrived with her husband and 11 children. "We wanted to go to Turkey, but they won't let us in now."
With the help of foreign donors, Farouk bought 300 tents with sturdy foundations and tarps, and foam mattresses for beds. But that initial bequest was spent, and Farouk said his Qah Camp depends almost entirely on a steady but insufficient stream of money from IHH, a Turkish nongovernmental organization. Camp residents must subsist on half-rations of prepared meals. There are no blankets unless the residents carried them in, no lights or heaters inside the tents, and there are just 12 bathrooms for all 3,000 people.
As we walked through the camp, Farouk was besieged with entreaties from distressed residents. "That father just told me it gets to zero degrees at night, and he has nothing to keep his children warm," Farouk said. "We want to help these people more, but there is not enough money."
The contrast between these two camps is a vivid example of why Syria's neighbors -- Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon -- have been swamped with refugees from the 20-month-old Syrian conflict -- some 400,000, the U.N. estimated this week. And that's just in the registered camps. There are countless tens of thousands of others who've entered neighboring countries to take up residence in Turkish, Jordanian and Lebanese cities.
Turkey's total soared past what officials had called its "psychological limit" of 100,000 several weeks ago. While it's building more camps, Turkey's border guards are now blocking entry to Syrians without passports. And that's most poor Syrians.
No matter where they've found shelter, the displaced Syrians we talked to share one feeling -- a desperate desire to return home.
Khadejah Al Darwish with nine of her 11 children talks to Margaret Warner (on right).
"My husband was a teacher, we had a normal life," Darwish said, sitting in her tent in Camp Haq surrounded by nine of her children. "I want my family to have that again."
Forty miles to the south, in Camp Yayladagi, 24-year-old Amani Kanibo whiles away the time by making pro-revolutionary artwork out of painted seeds, grains and wood. She held her 6-year-old son Hassan close, saying, "I want my children to go back to their land. They are losing their future here."
Those displaced by the Syrian conflict also seem to share another sentiment -- that they'll need international intervention to achieve their dream. Said Darwish: "We need the rest of the world to help us get rid of Bashar al-Assad, so we can get home."
But given the continuing disagreement among the U.S., its European allies, Russia, China and Syria's neighbors about what to do, Darwish and Kanibo may have a long time to wait.
On Friday's NewsHour, Warner reports from Turkey about developments in the Syria crisis.
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november 2012
Why Wuxi is not your ordinary Chinese city
Because city planners are hoping to turn Wuxi into a high tech hub, the air is breathable, the streets are broad, and many of the suburban districts look like a bucolic Google campus writ large.
from google
november 2012
Saudi Arabia Sets Its Sights on Afghanistan
As U.S. troops leave, Riyadh is positioning itself for the a future role in the country.
Afghan President Karzai is escorted by Saudi Price Meshaal as he arrives in Jeddah on December 5th, 2005. (Zainal Abd Halim/Reuters)
Saudi Arabia's support for Afghanistan has been steady but inconspicuous over the years. But that is about to change. The powerful Sunni-majority kingdom is embarking on a very public effort to carve out a bigger role in Afghanistan, pitting the oil-rich Gulf state directly against Shi'ite rival Iran in the race for influence as foreign forces leave. This became clear on October 29, when the Afghan government announced that Riyadh would build a multimillion-dollar Islamic complex in Kabul, marking its largest and most expensive foray into post-9/11 Afghanistan. The project, which is expected to cost between $45 million and $100 million, was agreed between the two countries in Jeddah. Construction is expected to begin next year. The Islamic complex will cover 24 hectares on Maranjan Hill in central Kabul. It will feature a university, a hospital, a sports hall, and a mosque capable of holding around 15,000 worshippers at a time. When completed, it will become a rival to the massive Iranian-built Khatam al-Nabyeen Islamic University in western Kabul. The Shi'ite religious school, which was opened in 2006, was built at a cost of some $17 million by one of Afghanistan's most Iran-leaning clerics. The campus has a mosque, classrooms, and dormitories for its 1,000 Afghan students. Late on the Scene Thomas Ruttig, a former UN and European diplomat and director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent research organization in Kabul, sees the Saudi move as part of the intensified competition for influence as U.S. and NATO troops look to draw down by 2014. Riyadh's chief motivation is clearly to counter the significant sway of archrival Iran. But Ruttig says that Riyadh has its work cut out for it, considering its late arrival. Iran, in contrast, has had a highly visible presence for the past decade. Iran has built on its lingual and cultural links with Afghanistan by spending millions on infrastructure, including roads, power grids, and railway projects. Tehran also leaves its mark through its export of cultural and political views via its strong media presence and funding of religious schools. Now the scene is set for an aggressive competition between Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia, which promotes the extremist Wahabbi sect of Islam, and Shi'ite-majority Iran. This raises the potential, Ruttig says, for sectarian tension in Afghanistan, whose population is estimated to be about 85 percent Sunni and 15 percent Shi'ite. "There are very strained relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both those countries will be competing for influence in Afghanistan, with the sectarian differences between both sides in the background," Ruttig says. "So far, Sunni-Shi'ite relations in Afghanistan have been quite stable, but that can be undermined if both sides are much more aggressive than before in vying for influence in what they might perceive as a post-2014 [political] vacuum." Seeking Leverage The possibility of increased sectarian tension in Afghanistan would be cause for alarm in Central Asia and China, whose governments are wary of growing religious extremism. It could be argued that Saudi Arabia was always a major player in the competition for influence in Afghanistan: Riyadh was a key financier of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s; it helped fund and arm the Taliban in the 1990s; and it has in recent years sought to broker behind-the-scenes peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. But those efforts were always behind the scenes, and other than the provision of food and relief supplies and the occasional business venture, there were few obvious examples of Saudi involvement in Afghanistan. Adel Darwish, a British journalist and political commentator who specializes in Middle Eastern politics, says Saudi Arabia is poised to make an important contribution. He says the Saudis can convince the Taliban leadership to enter peace negotiations and to encourage Pakistan to cut its ties with the militant group. That leverage comes in part because of Riyadh's close ties to regional powerhouse Pakistan, which has long supported the Afghan Taliban, and the kingdom's role as a spiritual authority in the Muslim world as the guardian of Islam's two holiest shrines. Riyadh was also a staunch backer of the Taliban in the 1990s, when it was one of only three countries -- along with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates -- to recognize the group during its rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001. Darwish says although Riyadh severed ties with the Taliban after 2001 when the militant group failed to handover Osama bin Laden, who was a Saudi national at the time, the kingdom still has considerable leverage over the militant group.
Both Kabul and Washington have endorsed an expanded Saudi role in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai reiterated that Saudi Arabia was "an important player" in Afghanistan and "has facilitated talks [with the Taliban] in the past and now."  U.S. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has said Riyadh's involvement in Afghanistan could shape the success of the NATO-led mission. Broken Broker? Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, the foreign-relations adviser for the Afghan High Peace Council, the presidentially appointed body tasked with negotiating with insurgents, says the Saudis have shown a genuine willingness to broker reconciliation talks. "We welcome the promises of Saudi Arabia and we hope that this friendly cooperation will lead to an effective outcome," Qasimyar says. "We hope that we will witness these promises coming to fruition." Others, however, note that the Saudis have been active in behind-the-scenes peace negotiations between members of the Taliban and the Afghan government in the past. But those talks, which took place in recent years, have yielded no breakthroughs. Wahid Muzhda, a political analyst and former Taliban spokesman, is among the skeptics. He says many Taliban feel betrayed by Riyadh after Saudi authorities arrested and jailed a former Taliban representative, Mawlawi Shabir Ahmad. Ahmad was jailed with his four sons in Riyadh in 2001. He was released in 2011. "The Taliban say that Saudi Arabia has acted as an enemy toward us," Muzdha says, suggesting the Saudis have taken the side of the West. "They have not been neutral. The Taliban doesn't recognize Saudi Arabia as a [peace] broker."

This post appears courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
from google
november 2012
How NYC Can Flood-Proof the Subway
How raised entrances, flood gates, and huge balloons could save New York’s subway from disaster.
us-news  from google
november 2012
Moving beyond the ‘Arab Spring’: The ethnic, temporal, and spatial bounding of a political movement
Publication year: 2012Source:Political Geography, Volume 31, Issue 3James A. Tyner, Stian Rice
from google
november 2012
In China, A Ceaseless Quest To Silence Dissent
China spares no effort or expense to suppress individuals and groups that dare to raise grievances. From the government's perspective, this pervasive security system has maintained order. But is it undermining long-term stability?
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from google
october 2012
The real reason China-Japan are locked in a territory dispute
Nationalist politics and historical resentments figure big in the China-Japan territorial dispute. But there's another alluring ingredient: oil and gas.
from google
october 2012
Is Europe really on the brink?
Europe's biggest crisis in the postwar era is not just about the economy. It's about a search for identity – and a rationale for staying unified.
from google
october 2012
Let's Get Real About Abortions
My CNN column seeks to move past the talking points favored by pro-life and pro-choice advocates.
from google
october 2012
Behind the Veil: A Western Woman on Saudi Arabia
As a major energy producer and bulwark against Iran, Saudi Arabia has been a key U.S. ally for decades. But it is also a place where half the population, the female half, are second class citizens, with virtually no rights outside their homes. In Saudi Arabia, women can't drive. In Saudi court, their testimony carries half-as-much weight as a man's and women will only begin to have the right to vote in 2015. Even then, they can only cast ballots in municipal elections.
NewsHour's Judy Woodruff recently spoke with Pulitzer Prize winner Karen Elliott House about what it's like to be a woman in a society like Saudi Arabia. House spent years living in The Kingdom while researching her new book, "On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines -- and Future." House lived and spent a great deal of time with Saudi women, experiencing their day-to-day lives and penetrating usually opaque and impenetrable society.
from google
october 2012
Twitter Gives Saudi Arabia a Revolution of Its Own
The medium has allowed Saudis to cross social boundaries and collectively address delicate subjects in real time.
Social_Networking_(Internet)  Saudi_Arabia  Twitter  from google
october 2012
Mombasa Rising? Secessionist movement grows on Kenya's coast
Watch Video
Julienne Gage produced this report
Kenya's Coast Province boasts of wealth of opportunity -- pristine beaches, deluxe hotels, a major port and an oil refinery -- but for locals in the picturesque city of Mombasa, it's hardly a paradise. Years of land grabbing and cronyism have made them squatters on their own ancestral lands. Increasing numbers of residents feel they can only gain a stake in the region's wealth by seeking autonomy from the federal government, but a new Kenyan Constitution going into effect next year squelches that. As Kenya gears up for its 2013 presidential elections, hundreds of thousands of local residents plan to boycott.
According to Human Rights Watch, the vast majority of Coast Province's nearly 2.5 million residents support a secessionist organization known as the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC). The group claims treaties dating back to the end of colonization and the start of Kenyan independence would allow them to become self-governing in 2013. While the MRC's Christian and Muslim leaders say their mission is peaceful, the movement appears to be splintering. As the Kenyan government cracks down on MRC activities, some of the region's most vulnerable residents are turning to violence.
Julienne Gage is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. She reported on this story in Kenya while on a producing contract with the International Reporting Project this summer. Follow her on Twitter @juliennegage
from google
october 2012
Turkey, Syria and the Kurds: South by south-east
A GIANT Kurdish flag undulating atop a raised plateau inside Syria faces the town of Senyurt in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east. At the local headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, a grey slab engraved with Ataturk’s aphorism “Happy is he who calls himself a Turk” gathers dust under a stairwell. Across the street at the gendarmerie, another slogan—“Loyalty to the army is our honour”—glints through barbed wire.The scene encapsulates Turkey’s Kurdish (and Syrian) impasse. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has long called for Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, to go. Turkey now hosts over 100,000 refugees from Syria. Tensions between the two countries have almost tipped into open war. Yet there is no sign of an early end to the Syrian conflict. And the withdrawal of Syrian forces from mainly Kurdish towns along the border has raised the stakes in the Turkish state’s 28-year battle with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).The towns are now run by the PKK’s Syrian franchise, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). As well as setting up Kurdish-language schools and Kurdish outfits, the...
from google
october 2012
America's Best Kept Financial Secret: I Bonds
Photo of Social Security Checks at the U.S. Treasury. By William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
Boston University finance guru should need no introduction to readers of this page, but for those who would like one, here it is.
Zvi Bodie: Paul asked me to explain why I consider U.S. Treasury inflation-protected savings bonds, "I Bonds," a must investment. I Bonds are savings bonds, not to be confused with TIPS, which are the U.S. Treasury's marketable inflation-protected bonds that can be purchased in unlimited quantities at an interest rate dictated entirely by market forces of supply and demand. Paul has written about them favorably, often and recently. But I Bonds offer a much better value to the investor than TIPS, although the government limits the amount you can buy to $10,000 per year per person.
To buy TIPS today, you have to accept a negative real interest rate, except for TIPS that mature in 30 years. Of course TIPS do add on a rate of interest equal to the Consumer Price Index: that's why they're called "inflation-protected." But suppose there's no inflation. In that case, you'd be paying the government to loan it money.
By contrast, a great virtue of I Bonds is that they can never yield less than zero. This means that in the worst case (unless the U.S. government declares bankruptcy and refuses to pay anyone), money invested in I Bonds will at least maintain its purchasing power. If there were to be outright DEflation, with prices actually going down, money invested in I Bonds would rise in value.
Yes, some day, the interest rate would rise again. But another advantage of I Bonds is that investors could then cash out their existing I Bonds (and keep principal plus accrued interest) and buy new ones at the higher rate of interest. In other words, whether interest rates go up or down, the investor is protected. (But note that if you buy new I Bonds you would be subject to the $10,000 limit.) If you have the money, you would have to be nuts not to invest in I Bonds up to the limit.
Most people I talk to, however, even the financially savvy, have never heard of I Bonds, even though the government started issuing them back in 1998. (Here's the videoof Vice President Al Gore making the public announcement at the time.)
A new 30-year fixed rate is announced every six months on May 1 and on Nov. 1 and applies to all bonds purchased during the following half a year. The total rate of interest is the fixed rate plus the annualized rate of inflation that occurred during the preceding six months. The chart below shows what the fixed and total interest rates have been on newly issued I Bonds from May 1999 to May 2012.
Image via Treasury Direct
But to repeat the basic point, I Bonds are a no-brainer because for every dollar you invest in them today, you have the right to take it out fully adjusted for inflation at any time over the next 30 years. So in a worst case scenario where you get no interest at all, you will maintain the purchasing power of your money. If the fixed rate on new issues should rise above your fixed rate, you can cash your old bond in and buy a new one with no loss of accumulated interest. If you have held the old bond for over 5 years, there is no penalty when you cash it in. I know of no safer way to invest for a long time horizon. For people of modest income, a combination of Social Security and an annual investment of up to $10,000 per year in I Bonds should suffice to finance a comfortable retirement without any significant risk and without any special tax-deferred retirement accounts. For example, a 30-year-old who buys $10,000 per year of I Bonds and retires at age 70 will have accumulated $400,000 of today's purchasing power. That would be enough to buy a guaranteed lifetime inflation-proof income benefit ("annuity") of more than $16,000 per year from a high quality insurance company.
This year the IRS has made investing in I Bonds easier than ever. U.S. residents can buy I Bonds with their federal tax refund. But I believe that the government should do much more to inform and educate the public about these bonds. In the meantime, trustworthy sources of information, such as Making Sen$e, should pitch in and do what they can to inform the public.
There won't be a second post today due to The NewsHour's online coverage of the vice presidential debate. Meanwhile, let it be known that this entry is cross-posted on the Rundown.
from google
october 2012
Facebook and YouTube blocked in Kashmir
Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir jumped on the 'Innocence of Muslim' film as an excuse to shut down social media in the disputed region.   
from google
october 2012
Son Jarocho, The Sound Of Veracruz
Betto Arcos says the style of music is so vibrant because it comes from the Caribbean side of Mexico and has all the influences of that region.
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from google
september 2012
Kurds to Pursue More Autonomy in a Fallen Syria
Some in the long divided and oppressed ethnic group are getting ready to fight for an autonomous region in the event that President Bashar al-Assad’s government falls.
Assad_Bashar_al-  Middle_East_and_North_Africa_Unrest_(2010-_)  Kurds  Syria  Kurdistan_Workers'_Party  from google
september 2012
As Numbers Swell, Syrian Refugees Face New Woes
As the conflict in Syria grinds on, thousands are fleeing their homes for refuge in neighboring countries. Jordan, to Syria's south, is having a difficult time caring for the 200,000 who have arrived so far.
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from google
september 2012
How rising food prices are impacting the world
High grain costs, caused by severe drought, are hitting dinner tables from Guatemala to China. But the world has learned valuable lessons since the food shocks of 2008. Will it be enough to prevent social unrest?
from google
september 2012
voxsart: Fall/Winter Day Shirtings, According To Flusser. For...

Fall/Winter Day Shirtings, According To Flusser.

For evening?  White, of course.

Simply a useful guide.
Alan_Flusser  Fall  Winter  Shirts  from google
september 2012
Poll: Obama up by 5 in Ohio
Geography suggests constant bailout touting works.
from google
september 2012
Islands Dispute Tests Resolve of China and Japan
Nationalists in China and Japan have seized on a territorial dispute and placed it at the heart of the debate on the balance of power in the region.
Defense_and_Military_Forces  Senkaku_Islands  Japan  China  from google
september 2012
For Sale: Grandi & Rubinelli Brown Check Shirting Limited 2012 Collection - 120/2
 "Grandi & Rubinelli Brown Check Shirting - 120/2 - 2 mts. (2.2 yds.) in length. Width..."
thread  from google
september 2012
Coffee, mines and dams: conflicts over land in the Bolaven Plateau, southern Lao PDR
During the last decades, neoliberal economic reforms aiming at facilitating trade and cross-boundary investment have encouraged transnational and national economic actors to search for ‘empty’ land to grow export crops, to mine, or to develop hydroelectric dams. Mainland Southeast Asia is one of the regions where such investment has been taking place as it contains resource-hungry countries (Thailand and in particular neighbouring China), and countries with ‘empty’ land and the willingness to use such land to foster economic growth (Laos, Cambodia and Burma). This beset the question as to what happens to the people who inhabit the land that is supposed to be ‘empty’, and the relationship between the different land uses that takes over that ‘empty’ land. This paper describes the land conflicts in one area in southern Laos, the Bolaven Plateau, where national and international capital backing large-scale coffee plantation, bauxite mining and dam construction is displacing smallholding coffee farmers – the ‘traditional’ land users – within a political environment of poorly enforced property rights and endemic corruption. We describe how the smallholding coffee farmers are relocated to make way for the new economic activities supported by considerable amounts of foreign capital, and how the land grabbing results in lower standards of living for the smallholding coffee farmers, with few benefits to the country as a whole.
from google
september 2012
New Help for Migrant Workers From India
A new government program aims to encourage migrant workers in the Gulf to put aside savings for their inevitable return instead of sending all their earnings home, where it is often misspent.
India  Foreign_Workers  United_Arab_Emirates  Kerala_(India)  from google
september 2012
Experts Issue a Warning as Food Prices Shoot Up
With climate change affecting crops, United Nations officials urged countries to guard against global hunger.
Agriculture_and_Farming  Food  Global_Warming  United_Nations  World_Bank  Drought  Prices_(Fares_Fees_and_Rates)  International_Relations  from google
september 2012
Bridging The Gap Between Two Neighborhoods
In the nation's capital, park planners have drawn up an ambitious plan to transform an old bridge into an active recreation space. If realized, the park would offer a physical and symbolic link between two very different communities.
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from google
september 2012
Lucha Libre: A spandex-clad campaign against obesity in Mexico
Mexico's health ministry has partnered with Lucha Libre wrestlers to fight obesity there. The campaign includes informational videos and weighing willing attendees outside of the junk food-centric events.
from google
september 2012
Obesity weighing on America – Latin America, that is
The fattening of Latin America mirrors a global pattern that has left some 1.5 billion adults overweight. Now, from Mexico to Chile, it's triggering a political response.
from google
september 2012
Spilt, Spoiled, Lost and Tossed: Exploring Two Worlds of Food Waste
Workers at La Laiterie du Berger in Senegal weigh and filter milk before transforming it into yogurt. The company collects milk from isolated herders who have no other way to get it to consumers. Photo by Jori Lewis for Homelands Productions.
With drought, storms, pests, diseases, poverty and a plethora of other constraints, it's hard enough for the world's farmers and fishers to keep us all fed. It hardly seems fair that one-third or more of what they produce goes uneaten.
Not that it's just a question of fairness. Consider the cost in land, water, labor, fuel, money and greenhouse gases. If we're going to feed 9 billion people by the middle of the century, and not destroy the planet in the process, cutting down on waste seems like a smart place to start.
Monday on Marketplace, the "Food for 9 Billion" project looks at two very different worlds of waste. First, reporter Jori Lewis travels to a remote area of Senegal, where cattle herders throw away much of the milk their cows produce because they have no way to get it to market. Then Adriene Hill visits an elementary school near Los Angeles, where much of the milk kids take with their lunches ends up in the trash.
The stories echo the dual nature of the food waste challenge: In poor countries, most losses occur on the farm or in transit and storage, while in rich countries, the waste is greatest at the consumer end.
What's to be done? That depends on where in the world you are.
Listen to the two reports: Spilled and Spoiled: Exploring Two Worlds of Food Waste
from google
august 2012
Wave of Syrian Refugees Strains Region
Many refugees are housed in schools, which will soon open, and camps that are not prepared for winter.
Middle_East_and_North_Africa_Unrest_(2010-_)  United_Nations  Refugees_and_Displaced_Persons  Syria  from google
august 2012
In wake of mass panic, India blames Pakistan-backed cyber attack
India charges that websites in Pakistan engaged in cyber warfare because they promoted rumors that caused thousands of ethnic minorities to flee the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
from google
august 2012
The Ganges River
Producer Phoebe Judge visits Northern India’s Ganges River, where people bathe and pray and lines pour out sewage every day. Also in this show: James Brabazon reads a short essay about a photograph his friend Tim Hetherington did not take, and illustrator Matt Kish talks about why he made a work of art for each page of the classic Moby-Dick.
_Podcast_  from google
august 2012
India’s north-east: A neglected crisis
People from India's north-eastern states crowd the railway station in Guwahati, Assam, after disembarking from a train from the southern city of Bangalore

Source: AP

Tens of thousands of migrant workers and students have fled some of India's
southern cities. They are returning to homes in the north-east, for fear of being the targets of ethnic hatred

Source: EPA

from google
august 2012
Boston Plans For 'Near-Term Risk' Of Rising Tides
In Boston, scientists are predicting that climate change will lead to dramatic sea level rise, and more frequent flooding, around the city. Officials are studying the potential impact on roads and sewers and are asking waterfront developers to plan for increased flooding.
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august 2012
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: the definitive Ultrabook for pros
More Info Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review Lenovo announces the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, a 14-inch Ultrabook with Ivy Bridge, optional 3G and a 1600 x 900 display Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook gets official: on sale August 21st for $1,399 and up The storied ThinkPad line has just turned 20 and, over all those years, the brand has established itself as something that (mostly) successfully straddles the line between boring corporate accessory and classy consumer choice. Stoic is an apt term for the machines and, through those two decades, they've only gotten better and better -- well, most of the time, anyway.
Welcome, then, to what is the latest and, therefore, what should be the best: the $1,499 ThinkPad X1 Carbon. It's an evolution of last year's X1, thinner and lighter than that pre-Ultrabook despite having a larger display. The Carbon moniker here not only describes this machine's matte black exterior but also applies to the woven and resin-impregnated composite structure within, delivering a rare mix of light weight, svelte dimensions and durable construction. It's a wonder to behold but can it improve on the previous ThinkPad X1's shortcomings? There's only one way to find out. Gallery: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review

Continue reading Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: the definitive Ultrabook for pros
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august 2012
Encoding Geopolitics: Virus Infects Banks In Lebanon
A common cybercriminal tactic appears to have been adopted by a nation-state for classic espionage purposes. The Kaspersky Lab in Moscow says the Gauss virus is targeting several large banks in Lebanon. Though the nation-state behind the virus hasn't been identified, analysts say it may be part of a U.S. effort.
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august 2012
In Somali capital, a year without Islamist militia
One year after the forced departure of Islamist militia Al Shabab, Mogadishu is rebuilding and prospering. But residents worry the group may return.
from google
august 2012
Neither the Will nor the Cash: Why India Wins So Few Olympic Medals
The world's largest democracy wins fewer medals per person than any other country. It's been priced out of its most competitive sport, but could national priorities also play a role?
A member of India's field hockey team reacts after losing an Olympics match against New Zealand. (Reuters) India is a big deal. It has the world's second-largest population and its ninth largest economy; it's the biggest democracy in existence and one of the oldest nations in history. But India is not very good at winning Olympic medals. There's no single or certain answer to why, but India's astonishingly poor performance offers some insights into just what does make an Olympic winner, and doesn't.India sent 83 athletes to London and has so far only won two medals, a bronze and a silver, both in shooting. That's not atypical for the country, which, though it's been competing since 1900, has only won 22 medals in every Olympics combined, half of those in field hockey. It has never won a medal at the winter games. By comparison, the U.S. has won 37 medals just this summer, and over 2,500 overall. At the 2008 Beijing olympics, India had the lowest ratio of medals-won to population of any competing country: one medal per 383 million Indians. And that year was their best Olympic performance ever. If you rank countries by the total number of Olympic medals they've ever won, India places 55th in the world, tied with Morocco and Thailand, though India has participated in twice as many Olympic games as either country. (The ranking is closer to 50 if you exclude now-defunct countries such as Czechoslovakia or East Germany.) It is regularly outperformed by much poorer countries, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and North Korea. The Wall Street Journal's daily feature on India's London 2012 performance can feel like an endless barrage of setbacks and disappointments.The obvious question -- why does India, despite a population of over one billion, field so few medalists? --  is as frequently asked as it is difficult to answer. There's no consensus, no obvious explanation, no single unified theory of Indian Olympic under-performance. Though there are certainly some factors particular to India that might explain this trend, this story might say as much about the better-performing countries and their ability to exploit certain advantages that India lacks.It's important to note that Indian athletes are no slouches. Indian cricket and field hockey teams are routinely among the world's finest, and the country has an outstanding record in a number of events at the Commonwealth Games, in which 50-plus former British colonies compete in a sort of mini-Olympics. After all, counting Olympic medals would be a poor way of quantifying a country's overall athletic talent, because that's not what the Olympics are about. India might have thousands of the world's best runners, swimmers, archers, or basketball players, but they'd earn the same number of medals for fourth place as they would for 40th. So there's nothing about India or Indians that says they have to under-perform in sports, because they often don't.So how to explain the Olympic medal deficiency? There are a number of theories. Probably the most common is that both India as a country and Indians as individuals just have other priorities. "Sport was never a priority for a majority of [Indian] parents and their kids," Indian sports psychologist Madhuli Kulkarni told EuroNews. "In fact we have a saying in Hindi - India's National language - 'Kheloge kudoge to honge kharab, padhoge likhoge to banoge nawab' which means that your life will be a waste if you play but if you study or do well in academics you will be a king." Related Story Why Kenya Produces Such Great Runners It's not just that Indians are poor -- Indian GDP per capita is well into the bottom quartile of all countries, ranked among landlocked African nations and still-recovering former warzones -- but they're also weakened by poor infrastructure and poor governance, which touches everything from public health to education to opportunities for advancement. Derek Thompson explained why rich countries tend to perform so well in the Olympics, boosted by better access to athletics infrastructure such as swimming pools and tennis courts, by "talent magnetism," and other factors. But there's also the economic safety net that makes it easier for Western (or Japanese or South Korean) would-be Olympians to take a chance on athletics. If an American amateur gymnast spends a few years deemphasizing school so she can labor toward her dream of a gold medal and it doesn't work out, she still has a good shot at a middle class life. But if her Indian equivalent does the same, she may never recover from all those hours she didn't spend on education or job training, making a middle class life less likely for either her or her children.And, though India has an enormous population, its "effectively participating population" in athletics is much smaller, according to a paper by economists Anirudh Krishna and Eric Haglund. Huge swathes of India's 1.2 billion, when it comes to international athletics, effectively don't count. They're excluded by poor childhood health, physical isolation by poor transportation from the athletics centers in the big cities, or often because they simply are not sufficiently aware of the Olympics or the sports involved. Even the lack of connectedness across Indian communities may play a role, as the idea of competing for national prestige just doesn't carry the same appeal or logic. It's not just that so many Indians are poor, in other words, it's that India itself is so socially and physically fragmented. Other developing countries besides India have managed to do quite well at the Olympics. China led the world in gold medals in 2008 and could do the same this year, so why not India? Krishna and Trager's theory may help explain this; though China has hundreds of millions of rural and urban poor, it also has a skyrocketing population of well-connected, well-educated, well-nourished citizens who make up the "effectively participating population." It's also possible to see a slight correlation between Olympic medals and developing countries that are run by strong central governments interested in fostering national prestige. Cuba, North Korea, China today, and once upon a time the Soviet Union invest heavily in finding and fostering competitive athletes. The Indian government, at this point, would probably just like to keep the lights on, and is perhaps too decentralized for a China-style campaign to galvanize national athletic talent.Still, income and governance alone can't explain India's under-performance, since a handful of other poor countries without a strong central government have still found a way to win far more medals. But it looks as if these outliers typically excel in just one or two sports in which, for whatever reason, they've managed to punch way above their weight. Turkey has won over two-thirds of its unusually numerous medals in wrestling; Jamaica got 52 of its 53 medals in track and field events; Kazakhstan dominates in weightlifting. Perhaps most famous are Kenya and Ethiopia, two of the world's poorest countries that reliably produce its strongest runners. The story behind those two is complicated, but it could have to do in part with innate physical differences in certain populations along the Great Rift Valley. India, it seems, has yet to identify an Olympic event where its people might exceptionally excel.The theme that many (though not all) of these theories seem to touch on is money, whether it's the money that Indian families don't have to give their children a shot at athletic glory or money that the Indian government can't spend on public health or won't on the expensive prestige-building effort to trim 0.2 seconds off a runner's 100-meter dash. Even Field Hockey, historically India's greatest strength at the Olympics, is a reminder that gold, silver, and bronze all cost paper. Between 1928 and 1968, India won all but two of the field hockey gold medals; the other two went to breakaway Pakistan. (West Germany won in 1972, with Pakistan and India coming in second and third.) But, in 1976, the Olympics switched from natural turf to synthetic, which is far more expensive. All the Indian players who practiced on fields and grass patches were learning skills no longer suited to international competition, and only the communities with the money and will to build a synthetic field could train viable contenders. India has won only a single field hockey medal in the 40 years since it last competed on natural turf, priced out of a sport that had once brought it so much Olympic glory.
from google
august 2012
Was Your Stuff Made by Slave Labor? It's Not Always Easy to Tell
There are 21 million slave workers in the world, and some of their products end up in the U.S.
Chinese workers stand outside a police station after being rescued from a year of slave labor at a brickworks. (Reuters)
MORE FROM THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS Sanctioning Iran Politics As An Olympic Sport Mali in Chaos China's Political Intrigues The latest estimates by the International Labor Organization state that nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor--and a significant amount of this suffering is fueled by every day products available on American shelves.
In Bloomberg Business Week, E. Benjamin Skinner documents how fish caught by slaves made their way onto plates in the United States. The path is convoluted: Indonesian recruiters deceived desperate men looking for work. Ship captains on the Korean Melilla 203 ship abused the laborers--forcing them to toil for as long as thirty consecutive hours, subjecting them to sexual abuse, and refusing to properly compensate them. New Zealand companies purchased the fish (and New Zealand environmental inspectors reportedly overlooked the slavery and responded to a plea for help by saying, "Not my job"). Finally, U.S. distributors bought the catch, which wound up on American dinner tables.
By ratifying the Trafficking in Persons protocol to the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (TIP protocol), 151 countries around the world have agreed to criminalize human trafficking within their borders. Article 10 of the protocol also commits states to exchange information with foreign authorities and cooperate with foreign law enforcement agencies to prevent and detect human trafficking.
Meanwhile, at sea, the vast majority of major economies engaged in global trade have ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). (The United States stands as an important exception and is not party to UNCLOS, but has ratified the TIP Protocol.) Part VII, Article 99 of that accord requires states "to take effective measures to prevent and punish the transport of slaves in ships authorized to fly its flag."
And yet, these international frameworks are loosely monitored and do not foster enough cooperation among international law enforcement agencies. In particular, this case underscores one of globalization's major challenges: the number of sovereign jurisdictions involved in one crime. Indonesian authorities were either not aware of the crime, or chose to overlook it. Korean authorities, under whose flag the ship sailed, did not investigate the labor standards onboard Melilla 203 (South Korea has not ratified the TIP protocol, but did neglect its treaty obligations under the UNCLOS, which it has ratified). And New Zealand authorities failed to identify the slave labor on ships docked in their harbor.
Human trafficking is notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute due to its clandestine nature, corruption of local authorities, mobility of traffickers, and underreporting because victims fear for their safety or that of their families. However, challenges are compounded when only one country oversees a single link in the chain.  Separate law enforcement agencies charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes are constrained by national boundaries, while the illicit actors permeate borders with ease. The regime is wildly vulnerable to exploitation.
In theory, Interpol coordinates among sovereign jurisdictions, but with an annual budget of $78 million (59 million euros) in 2010, the organization hardly makes a dent in human trafficking worldwide. Indeed, in all of 2011, Interpol reports only one operation on its website. In that operation, Interpol agents assisted Ghanaian police to rescue children between the ages of five and seventeen who were forced to work on fishing boats in Lake Volta. Given that Ghana exports roughly 11 percent of its fish, it is probable that the catch traveled well beyond its national jurisdiction. In total, the Interpol-supported operation rescued 166 children. That amounts to .0000079 percent of the estimated victims worldwide.
Law enforcement operations cannot be expected to tackle human trafficking alone, and rescue is not always a viable solution. High demand for cheap goods, opaque supply chains, and low consumer awareness are underlying structural conditions that contribute to the prevalence of labor trafficking.
Seventy-eight percent of U.S. families reported choosing organic foods in a November 2011 survey, despite the fact that they are often more expensive. In a new Gallup poll, 5 percent of Americans identify as vegetarians for environmental reasons or because they object to the inhumane practices of many meat producers. Is there even a word to describe people who choose to eliminate slave-made goods from their daily lives? How often do we see asterisks and a note that ingredients in a meal were harvested freely by people being compensated according to domestic or international law? The American Humane Association has trademarked the "No Animals Were Harmed" ® disclaimer, and yet, no such tagline exists for cruelty to people.
In the Melilla 203 case, McDonald's refused to purchase the fish from the New Zealand supplier because it requires all of its suppliers to submit to third-party audits on its labor standards. The 2010 California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 requires companies that operate in California with an annual worldwide profit that exceeds $100 million to "disclose what efforts, if any, they have taken to eliminate human trafficking from their supply chains." This is a laudable first step.
Companies like McDonald's that prioritize the elimination of slave labor from their supply chains would benefit from printing the fact on their products. As consumers become more conscious of their purchases, a label on a box that distinguishes their product--"This company and its suppliers submit to third-party audits on its labor standards" or "No slaves were used"--would go a long way. For their part, countries, or even U.S. states with large economies where multinational companies have a large stake, should lead the way by requiring companies to publish such taglines on products.
This article originally appeared at CFR.org, an Atlantic partner site.
from google
august 2012
Why Did So Many People Lose Power In India?
Steve Inskeep talks with New York Times New Delhi correspondent Gardiner Harris about the massive power outage in India. Officials late yesterday said electric service had been restored to most of the 670 million or so people who lost it.
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from google
august 2012
Drone Pilots, Waiting for a Kill Shot 7,000 Miles Away
Drones are not only revolutionizing American warfare but are also changing in profound ways the lives of the people who fly them.
Drones_(Pilotless_Planes)  Pilots  United_States_Defense_and_Military_Forces  Deaths_(Fatalities)  Afghanistan_War_(2001-_)  Iraq_War_(2003-11)  Afghanistan  Iraq  from google
july 2012
USDA: Severe Drought Will Drive Up Cost of Food
The drought gripping the Midwest is affecting 88 percent of the country's corn crop and will send food prices up next year, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
By 2013, consumers will see a 2.5 to 5 percent spike in prices for beef, pork, eggs and dairy products. The drought will also impact export prices, sending the price of corn higher around the world.
More than 20 percent of the nation's land is in extreme or exceptional drought and shows no sign of abating, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report. It is the worst drought in nearly 50 years.
Hari Sreenevasan spoke Thursday with Richard Volpe, research economist for the USDA. He began by asking how the drought will impact the global economy.
Watch Video
We then asked if prices will rise equally across the country or hit particular regions harder than others.
Watch Video
The USDA had predicted that this would be the largest corn harvest on record, but Volpe says that prediction has been revised.
Watch Video
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july 2012
Millions Of Immigrants Cause Tension In Singapore
In a bid to avoid an aging society and dearth of workers, Singapore has welcomed roughly two million immigrants in the past two decades. In recent years, the topic of immigration has dominated the political landscape, with urbanites increasingly concerned about competition for jobs, housing and transportation, and voters increasingly questioning the ruling party's immigration policies.
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july 2012
Food Prices to Rise in Wake of Severe Drought
The Agriculture Department said the cost of beef would increase the most, up to 5 percent, because of the weather and rising prices for animal feed.
Drought  Agriculture_and_Farming  Farm_Bill_(US)  Prices_(Fares_Fees_and_Rates)  Food  Corn  Beef  Weather  United_States_Economy  Moody's_Corporation|MCO|NYSE  Wal-Mart_Stores_Inc|WMT|NYSE  from google
july 2012
India riots: Illegal immigration is behind deadly clashes in Assam
At least 45 people have been killed in ethnic clashes between tribesmen and Muslims that started over the weekend in Assam State in northeast India, according to police.
from google
july 2012
Greenland Goes Green: Ice Sheet Melted in Four Days
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: a scientific puzzle over the melting of one of planet Earth's largest sheets of ice.
Margaret Warner has our story.
MARGARET WARNER: This week, NASA announced a surprising finding. Earlier this month, the surface of the ice sheet covering Greenland melted more widely than has been seen in 33 years of satellite imagery.
Typically, about half of Greenland's surface ice thaws each summer. Most of it usually refreezes in place, while some flows into the ocean. But this month was different.
On July 8, satellite imagery showed about 40 percent of Greenland's top ice layer, shown here in shades of pink, had thawed. The white area was still solid ice.
Just four days later, 97 percent of the ice -- again shown -- again shown in pink -- had thawed.
It coincided with another striking development in Greenland. A major glacier in the northwest known as the Petermann Glacier lost a major chunk of ice. The iceberg that broke off, as shown here in time-lapse photos, was more than twice the size of Manhattan. An even bigger piece of the glacier separated in 2010.
For more on all this, I'm joined by Thomas Wagner of NASA. He directs the agency's programs for glaciers, sea ice and polar regions.
And welcome, Mr. Wagner. Thanks for coming in.
THOMAS WAGNER, NASA: Thanks for having me.
MARGARET WARNER: So, first of all, how surprising -- let's start with the thaw, the melt that occurred on Greenland itself. How surprising was this?
THOMAS WAGNER: Complete surprise, so much of a surprise that one of the scientists who studied this thought there must be something wrong with his instrument.
MARGARET WARNER: So, then you determined that this was for real?
And what happened was this, was we got some reports that there was melt going on all around Greenland, literally like so much water running off that it was washing out bridges and things, that there were runways that were on the snow that were having problems.
And so what we did was look at the satellite records, which are great because they cover the whole ice sheet. And what we found pretty quickly was that it had melted, and it had melted in places that we had never seen melt before.
MARGARET WARNER: And so is this -- this is not unprecedented, though. How unusual is this?
THOMAS WAGNER: It's unusual for us, because the thing you have got to understand is the top parts of the Greenland ice sheet are 12,000 feet above sea level.
It's very, very cold there. It's never above freezing. And what happened was, we had temperatures go up to almost 42 degrees in places. When we look back, though, kind of in deep time, which we can get from ice cores around Greenland, we found out melting like this probably does happen maybe about on average every 150 years. So, this is really unusual. Maybe the last time it happened was 1889.
MARGARET WARNER: But not unprecedented?
THOMAS WAGNER: Not unprecedented in that we see a deep-time example that this has happened before.
But, you know, and this is a case where we actually have observations and we know what went on and we can correlate it with weather patterns.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, what explains it?
Well, the simplest explanation is this, is we had some pockets of warm air really form around Greenland that literally washed up over the entire ice sheet. And a lot of that is related. If you look at -- there are some indices people use to describe the state of the atmosphere.
One of them is the North Atlantic oscillation. And this year, that happened to have a really strong high-pressure system formed over Iceland that allowed this warm air sit around and move over Greenland.
MARGARET WARNER: So, you're basically talking about the weather?
THOMAS WAGNER: Yes, and that is one way to thing about it. Climate is sort of long-term weather. But short term, you can get extreme variations. And we're seeing an extreme variation in Greenland.
MARGARET WARNER: So, you're saying you can't really attribute this to climate change?
And that's one of the things. We spent a long time trying to word the document that we put out describing it. And we said, look, there is evidence that this has happened before. Now, that doesn't mean -- we really don't know the explanation for this one. If it happens again, if it starts to happen repeatedly, then we have an indication that there might be a real shift going on in the Arctic system there.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. So, now, it has been about a week since you -- since the end of that -- those photos that we showed. What's happening now on the ground? Do you even know?
THOMAS WAGNER: Well, up high on the Greenland ice sheet, the instruments that we have there are saying that things are cooling off already.
MARGARET WARNER: So they're starting -- starting to refreeze?
THOMAS WAGNER: Right, but at the lower elevations, it's still really warm.
And you can almost think of it -- at high elevations, think of like good packing snow. You have got a lot of water in between the snow particles. But at lower elevations of Greenland, there's so much melt that had coalesced into lakes and ponds and rivers, and that stuff is still running. We have actually got scientists down on the ground right now studying that.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, let's move on to the Petermann Glacier, and that rather dramatic picture of the -- I guess it's in the sort of fjord, but it broke off.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, first of all, that isn't -- that happened two years ago as well. Look into deep time. How unusual is this kind of event?
THOMAS WAGNER: So, the Greenland ice sheet works is that you -- almost like if I poured honey in the middle of the table.
Snow builds up in the middle of Greenland, compacts the ice, and then it flows out to the sides, flows out in outlet glaciers, like you say, out the fjord. When it hits the ocean, it begins to float, and then that forms an ice shelf, which normally breaks off and it's continuously fed by snow building up in the middle.
In the case of Petermann, there's a debate going on right now as to what's going on. It could be normal that this calving occurs, or it could be that ocean warming, which has also been observed in that area, caused this.
MARGARET WARNER: And so nobody knows what caused this either?
THOMAS WAGNER: Right, but we can't lose sight of the bigger picture, which is this. The Greenland ice sheet has been losing tremendous amounts of ice for decades, on average 150 gigatons a year. You're talking so much ice that this is contributing about 0.3 millimeters of sea level rise a year around the globe.
MARGARET WARNER: And how much of the sea level rise is that?
THOMAS WAGNER: Yes. Well, it's about three millimeters a year overall.
But the problem, too, with Greenland is that it looks like it's been accelerating in recent years. And so depending on what time range you look at it, now it could be contributing a half-a-millimeter, maybe even more.
MARGARET WARNER: So, big picture, what are the consequences of these two events, whatever the cause? Because I take your point that it's going to take subsequent years to know. What are the consequences?
THOMAS WAGNER: There's a couple of things.
Number one, for us, this is a phenomenal natural experiment that has been run. So this is a chance for us to go and look at the effects are of water on the ice sheet. And if we are in a warming world, we can look at -- does that water make it to the bottom of the ice and lubricate the glaciers so they form faster?
There is also a little bit of a debate right now as to how does Greenland lose all of its ice? Is it melting or is that the flow of glaciers out to the ocean? And it's about 50/50. But -- well, we think it's about 50/50. After this year, we may have some new ideas on that.
MARGARET WARNER: Does this affect, say, the broader picture of the whole water system in the Arctic?
And one of the things, this then also gives us a chance to highlight what's going on in the Arctic. This year, we're losing sea ice overall. We're down close to another record year. And we're probably at a record year. The sea ice is thinner now than it's ever been. We're seeing warming going around all around in the Arctic. Permafrost is thawing and those kinds of things. So it really does look like the Arctic has shifted in state.
MARGARET WARNER: But is it fair to say that at least some of this, both the breaking off of the glacier, but, more importantly, the melt, is going to add both warmth -- is it going to add warmth and also volume to the oceans, in very basic terms?
THOMAS WAGNER: Oh, definitely, yes. Melting -- that water, most of it goes down and flows out. A lot of it refreezes in place, but if it's at lower elevations, it flows out into the ocean.
And these glaciers that break off, that is the mechanism -- both of these things are the mechanism by which we raise sea level from the ice sheets.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, Tom Wagner from NASA, thank you so much.
And you can find the time-lapse satellite images of Greenland's ice melt on our Science page.
from google
july 2012
We Got It For Free: Meermin Shoes Exaggerations are so often...
We Got It For Free: Meermin Shoes

Exaggerations are so often used in menswear writing that it can be difficult to state something grand without sounding hackneyed. Everything is “perfect,” “the best,” and “will last forever.” At the risk of seeming like I’m committing the same sin, I’ll say that I think Meermin offers the best value, if not simply the best shoes, among the relatively more affordable brands of footwear I know of. 

Meermin has two lines – the Classic Collection and Linea Maestro. The Classic Collection starts at 150 euro (~$180) and Linea Maestros at 250 euro (~$300). Customers outside of Europe get a 20% discount since they’re exempt from European taxes.

The two lines are characterized in the following ways:

While both are made from full-grain leathers, Linea Maestro uses higher-grade materials. They also carry suede from Charles F. Stead (the same supplier that Alden uses) and shell cordovan from Argentina. 
Whereas the Classic Collection is Goodyear welted, Linea Maestro is handwelted. Both techniques mean that your shoes can easily undergo multiple resolings, thus allowing them to last for decades with proper care. However, handwelting has the advantage of being able to directly attach the welt to the insole without the use of the canvas rib that’s necessary for Goodyear welting. This allows you to use thinner layers of cork, thus making the shoes thinner and more flexible. In addition, some have argued that handwelted shoes are prone to fewer breakdowns and can withstand more resolings than Goodyear welted ones. 
Both lines feature soles with channeled stitching (which means that the stitching is hidden), rather than ones that are stitched aloft (which means the stitching is visible). Many enthusiasts find channeled soles to be more handsome. In addition, Linea Maestros have a slightly beveled waist, which means the edges of the sole’s waist (the part that supports your arch) slightly curve up. Again, simply a stylistic detail, but I think a pleasing one.
Linea Maestro has higher-quality finishing. Before they’re sent out, the uppers are buffed to a high-quality shine and, depending on the order, also burnished at the toes.
Any of their ready-to-wear shoes can be customized through their made-to-order program for a small surcharge. So when Meermin’s proprietor, Pepe, offered to send me a pair for review, I asked for this cap toe blucher from their Classic Collection to be made from a dark brown leather and constructed to Linea Maestro standards. I was also able to specify the last, so changed out the soft square style of Ama for the rounder toe Hiro. You can see all of their last shapes here.

The result, I think, is a handsome, genuinely classic pair of shoes. It’s dressy enough for most work environments, but casual enough for leisurely days. The last is shapely without being pointy, and the rich, well-finished leather shines up more easily than many of my other shoes. Pepe was also able to nail the fit just from going off of my size in other brands, and although the leather was a bit stiff at first, it broke in nicely after about a dozen wears. 

The only criticism I can make is that their quality control could be tightened up. In a StyleForum thread, a couple of their customers reported experiencing split-soles early on. The company, however, has been very responsive in offering to replace any defective shoes. It should perhaps be noted that many high-end, well respected brands have also had reports of similar problems pop up every once in a while; this isn’t unique to Meermin. At the same time, my own pair came with cap toes that had been unevenly burnished. The difference was slight, as you can see in the photos, and I’ve since fixed them by applying a bit of dark polish on the lighter toe cap. Perhaps the quality control there could be improved, but it’s nothing so bad that I’d feel uncomfortable recommending them.

These shoes, in my opinion, surpass many brands retailing for nearly double the price. This is partly because Meermin has a segment of its production in Shanghai. While some people wrongly characterize all Chinese production as being low quality, the fact is that some factories there have considerably improved. Though luxury-end production still remains nascent, mid-tier production such as this can be fairly decent.

To be sure, Meermin’s true quality will reveal itself over the next five to ten years, when current customers can report back on how their shoes have aged. For now, however, I find that their lasts to be more handsome than most of their direct competitors’ designs; their leathers, finishing, and construction to be just as good, if not better; and the ability to customize each pair to be a nice feature. Note that I only have experience with their made-to-order Linea Maestros, but plan to try out one of their Classic Collection ready-to-wears soon. I’ll report back when I do, but my bet is that they’re pretty excellent for $180 (or ~$150 after taxes are deducted). This is, in my opinion, one of the best options in footwear right now for those on a relatively tight budget. 

To check out all of Meermin’s designs and offerings, visit their website, blog, and Facebook page. Some photos on their blog aren’t on their website, and their Facebook page shows other designs still, so it’s best to browse around.
Meermin  Shoes  from google
july 2012
Lifehacker’s guide to a stress-free vacation
Well organized and featuring a ton of useful links, Lifehacker’s Start to Finish Guide to a Perfect, Stress-Free Vacation is definitely worth a look.  An excerpt:

So now that you’ve booked your flight, your hotel, and your rental car, you have a ton of confirmation numbers, reservation dates, and other bits of info floating around your email inbox. TripIt is one of our favorite travel apps that aims to organize all that info in one simple place for you. Just sign up, connect it to your Gmail inbox, and it will automatically scan your email for incoming confirmation messages, adding their info to your TripIt log when they come in. Alternatively, you can forward all your confirmations to trips@tripit.com, if you’d rather not give them access to your email.

The article features four major sections:

Part One: Pre-Travel Preparation
Part Two: Travel Day
Part Three: Your Vacation
Part Four: Returning Home

Read the entire piece by clicking on the link at the top.  This piece is comprehensive – if you read the entire article and all of the related links, you just might need a vacation when you finish!Similar Posts:
None Found
Travel_Hacking  from google
july 2012
Google fetes 40 years of Landsat with new timelapse videos of Earth
Compared to Landsat, which has been beaming photos of our planet since 1972, Mountain View is a cartographic newb. But Google Earth drove geospatial interest into the stratosphere when it launched in 2005 and, with a billion downloads and counting, the company is well placed to celebrate 40 years of Landsat imagery. To do that, it has collaborated with the US Geological Survey and Carnegie Mellon to create a collection of timelapse videos ranging from seasonal snowcover changes across North America to Amazon deforestation. Though the search giant is gradually shifting from relatively low-res 100 feet per pixel Landsat imagery to 8 feet SPOTImage maps, its Google Earth Engine was used to process the vast archive and make it available to the public. To watch a video of the history of the grand dame of satellite imagery and its liaison with Google, head after the break -- or check the source for all the timelapse goodness.
Continue reading Google fetes 40 years of Landsat with new timelapse videos of Earth
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birthday  carnegie_mellon  CarnegieMellon  google  google_earth  google_earth_engine  GoogleEarth  GoogleEarthEngine  landsat  map  mapping  maps  satellite  satellite_imagery  satellite_photos  SatelliteImagery  SatellitePhotos  US_Geological_Survey  UsGeologicalSurvey  from google
july 2012
The Night Light Development Index (NLDI): a spatially explicit measure of human development from satellite data
The Night Light Development Index (NLDI): a spatially explicit measure of human development from satellite dataSocial Geography, 7, 23-35, 2012Author(s): C. D. Elvidge, K. E. Baugh, S. J. Anderson, P. C. Sutton, and T. GhoshWe have developed a satellite data derived ''Night Light Development Index''
(NLDI) as a simple, objective, spatially explicit and globally available
empirical measurement of human development derived solely from nighttime
satellite imagery and population density. There is increasing recognition
that the distribution of wealth and income amongst the population in a
nation or region correlates strongly with both the overall happiness of that
population and the environmental quality of that nation or region. Measuring
the distribution of wealth and income at national and regional scales is an
interesting and challenging problem. Gini coefficients derived from Lorenz
curves are a well-established method of measuring income distribution.
Nonetheless, there are many shortcomings of the Gini coefficient as a
measure of income or wealth distribution. Gini coefficients are typically
calculated using national level data on the distribution of income through
the population. Such data are not available for many countries and the
results are generally limited to single values representing entire
countries. In this paper we develop an index for the co-distribution of
nocturnal light and people that is derived without the use of monetary
measures of wealth and is capable of providing a spatial depiction of
differences in development within countries.
from google
july 2012
What's behind the 'outrage' over Chinese-made US Olympics uniforms?
US Sen. Harry Reid (D) of Nevada suggests that Americans pile up the Chinese-made Team USA uniforms and burn them. But how much does China really 'dominate' the US economy?
from google
july 2012
Looking for Famine in Niger and Finding Seeds of Progress
Fatouma Ide is among thousands of Nigerien farmers working in temporary public works jobs to tide them through the hunger season. Photo by Fred de Sam Lazaro.
The first question a journalist asks when deciding whether to report a story is: "What's new?" That can be a challenge when it comes to famine in Africa.
The looming crisis in the Sahel region is clearly newsworthy -- after all, tens of millions of lives are imperiled. But how is it different from the famine in the Horn of Africa in 2011? Or, for that matter, the Sahel famine of 2010?
One thing about the current situation was new and notable: relief agencies and the government of Niger, the most affected country, sounded an early alarm and called for help. That created a different challenge for a television journalist like me: the prospect of doing a famine story with no pictures of hungry people. It can feel almost predatory to seek images of human suffering, but when appropriately and accurately used, they are critical to conveying a story's urgency.
Once in Niger, it was clear that we needn't have fretted about compelling images. The famine is not expected to peak until August, but even in "good" years, there is no shortage of malnourished people in Niger. For decades, Nigeriens have endured an annual hunger season, as reserves from the previous harvest are exhausted and the wait -- weeks or even months -- begins for the next one.
In the end, we returned with a report that looks beyond the urgent news to a promising effort to address a root cause of chronic famine in Niger -- the steady southward creep of the Sahara desert. In particular we look at an approach development experts now call Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, or FMNR, that was developed in the '80s by an enterprising farmer in Burkina Faso, Niger's western neighbor.
Yacouba Sawadogo used simple techniques to trap moisture and seeds blown across his land. He allowed the vegetation that sprouted naturally -- native trees and brush -- to grow alongside his planted crops. For decades until then trees had been cleared off the land for various reasons. Sawadogo and soon his neighbors began to show that, when protected and pruned, trees not only enrich the soil to improve crop production but also provide livestock fodder and firewood and cooler "microclimate" around them.
Farmers have been encouraged to protect trees that grow naturally on their land, improving soil fertility and producing an abundance of firewood, the main cooking fuel, and livestock fodder. Here, farmers tend a field of millet, a staple crop. Photo by Fred de Sam Lazaro.
International aid groups like World Vision and scientists like Chris Reij, both featured in our broadcast report, have tried to spread the gospel of FMNR as widely as possible. So far, Niger has seen the most success, boosting its annual food production by 500,000 tons, according to one study. That's sufficient to feed about 2.5 million people. It's a small but significant step that could eventually lead to food self-sufficiency, Reij said.
But for each step forward, population growth takes Niger two steps back. Some development experts say the country's world-leading fertility rate -- Nigerien women bear seven children on average -- is the gravest threat.
"The failure to invest in family planning in the past is reaping huge suffering," said Dr. Malcolm Potts at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health. "But, as the Africans say, 'The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time is today.'"
President Mahamadou Issoufou, democratically elected in early 2011, has set an ambitious agenda in which "birth spacing" is a priority. Based on his government's proactive response to the current food crisis, U.S. Ambassador Bisa Williams said she is hopeful that Niger can break out of its perennial ranking as one of the world's poorest nations.
Re-greening has given it a head start. Reij noted that there are 200 million more trees in Niger today than 20 years ago. I think that qualifies as both new and newsworthy.
On Thursday's NewsHour: Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro's full report on Niger's pending famine.
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july 2012
South Sudan Struggles 1 Year After Independence
One year ago, South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan. Since then, there have been tribal clashes in several areas of the new nation, and in April, there was a brief border war with Sudan.
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july 2012
One year on, South Sudan struggles to survive
Feuds over boundaries and oil-pumping fees deprive South Sudan of revenue and bring it close to war with Sudan one year after independence.
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july 2012
A Gateway to Myanmar
As Myanmar opens up to the world, Thai construction crews are clearing paths through malarial jungles.
Building_(Construction)  Asean  Myanmar  Thailand  from google
july 2012
Fifty years after Algerian freedom, youths take fresh look at France (+video)
Younger Algerians have a more pragmatic approach to France, Algeria's former colonial master. They view engagement with the West as a necessity, especially for creating jobs through investment. 
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july 2012
For Marshall Islanders, Hopes and Troubles in Arkansas
Thousands of Marshall Islanders have settled in northwestern Arkansas, where they find steady incomes but face health and cultural problems.
Arkansas  Marshall_Islands  Diabetes  Medicine_and_Health  Language_and_Languages  Health_Insurance_and_Managed_Care  Tyson_Foods_Inc|TSN|NYSE  from google
july 2012
Climate Change Buoying Wildfires Across Country
Intense weather including storms, droughts and wildfires has racked America recently. Are they symptoms of climate change or is it just a hot summer? Robert Siegel talks to Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
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july 2012
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