We, the Scary Arab Clowns admit to taking a special joy in watching as the U.S. falls, but at the same time we are highly impressed with the steps the Obama administration is taking. We have convinced Vago not to give up his U.S. citizenship and he is even considering returning someday to his native land of birth. In any event, we think that things are going in the right direction and we bring you this update of the news we find most interesting in the world.
We admit that we are enjoying the blogging. We may start a new network called al-Clownzeera.
We think that Venezuela’s Chavez and the North Korean Kim Jong Il are only the vanguard of nations that will begin testing the limits of the United States.
President Hugo Chavez seized a unit of American food giant Cargill on Wednesday and threatened to take over Venezuela’s largest private company, renewing a nationalization drive as the OPEC nation’s oil income plunges.
A day after warning Washington against launching military exercises on South Korean soil, North Korea focused its rhetoric Thursday on its neighbor and warned of “powerful” retaliation if Seoul goes ahead with joint drills next week.
There will be other tests of the limits of United States power.
Kyrgyzstan will not reverse its decision to shut down a United States military air base, which is key for Washington’s war in Afghanistan, a spokesman for President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said on Thursday.
We like that Obama is doing things that go against conventional wisdom:
The Obama administration plans to expand a program to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces in the occupied West Bank as part of a push for statehood, officials said on Thursday.
The debut of the two-pronged Making Home Affordable Program, focused on mortgage modification and refinancing, will likely be delayed for several weeks, though, as lenders prepare for the anticipated onslaught of borrowers’ looking for help.
We would also like to point out that if you want to treat your corporations like human binegs, you should consider making them mortal, that is, taking away the immortality of corps that are iresponsible and dangerous such as Eli Lilly.
Eli Lilly & Company’s rap sheet as a public menace is so long that for Lilly watchers to overcome the “banality-of-Lilly-sleaziness” phenomenon, the drug company must break some type of record measuring egregiousness. Lilly obliged earlier this year, receiving the largest criminal fine ever imposed on a corporation.
And we have a rather nice update on the soundtrack of the Fantastic Depression. We think it is more than likely it will be Phish. Link.
And here is an itneresting way to find a wife…”If you build a road, they will come” We call this the field of dreams method.
More than 100 Bachelors from a remote village in Bihar, India, are building a mountain road to the outside world to raise their eligibility among prospective brides. The village of Barwaan Kala is located high in the Kaimur hills and known locally as the “village of unmarried people.” The last wedding in the village was reportedly 50 years ago.
We find these two stories about Morocco interesting today.
1. Sufism in Moroccan Islam Link
2. EU Cooperation with Morocco to Increase Link
Finally we want everyone to know that if Gandhi’s eyeglasses go on auction we plan to buy them for $4.95 and if anyone else raises the bid we will cut off their head. Link.
Part circus, part athletic contest, part cultural event. Competitors (including the Flying Wallendas) came to South Korea from 14 countries to conquer the three-quarter mile wire. The organizer would like to hold the contest in North Korea. Hmm, would Kim Jong Il win?
If this story is up your alley, check out the documentary Man or Wire, about the Frenchman, Philippe Petit, who walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. The logistics of the feat and Petit’s skill on the wire are awe-inspiring. He is a bit of a nut, though, and not very likeable for having celebrated his WTC crossing by cheating on his girlfriend. The movie does not mention the eventual fate of the Twin Towers. There towers are a haunting presence, however, throughout the film.
Chinese wins tightrope contest across Seoul river
A professional tightrope walker from China zipped along a wire strung across the Han River in just under 11 minutes to win Seouls second international high-wire championship, which concluded Saturday.
Yakefujiang Maimitili, competing Friday on the second day of the three-day contest, beat 26 other competitors in traversing the three-quarter-mile-long wire to claim the $20,000 prize.
Colombias Alan Martinez came in second place with a time of 11 minutes, 23 seconds. Last years winner, Abudusataer Wujiabudula of China, finished in 11 minutes, 28 seconds, for third place.
Maimitili, 20, said he has been a tightrope walker since the age of 7, following in his ethnic Uighur familys tradition in his native Xinjiang in northwestern China.
“I was really excited while I was walking on the rope,” Maimitili said Saturday.
Tightrope walking is also a Korean tradition going back centuries, with performers often leaping and turning somersaults in midair — and sometimes even cracking jokes — to entertain onlookers.
Speculation was mounting last night over the health of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. He has not been seen in public for more than three weeks, and, according to a source who has seen intelligence reports, five Chinese physicians entered North Korea about a week ago and are still there.
The 66-year-old leader was last seen on 14 August, when he inspected a military unit. State media carry reports every time Mr Kim attends a public event, but never comment on his health. An official with South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, has said Mr Kim has chronic heart disease and diabetes but that his illnesses have not affected his public duties.
North Korea next week marks 60 years since its foundation. An annual military parade is usually staged on the anniversary. If Mr Kim doesn’t attend, this may indicate his health has worsened, South Korean officials believe.
And have you ever wondered what would happen if Florida gets slammed by more hurricanes?
a series of studies have made it clear that if the Big One or even a Pretty Big One strikes, Florida is going to have very serious problems. The state-run insurance firm and the Catastrophe Fund have just a few billion dollars on hand, so a major storm would force both entities to float massive bond issues in an unfavorable market, and to make up their shortfalls through gigantic assessments on policyholders. A House committee recently warned that the state would have “extreme difficulty paying its obligations” after a 100-year storm, and that premiums on nearly every property, car and business could skyrocket. A report for the state Office of Insurance Regulation found that even a 50-year storm would cause extreme financial stress, especially given the current credit crunch.
It could happen this week…we will see. Speaking of the credit crunch. The U.S. has taken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Desperate measures for desperate times.
Officials announced that both giant institutions were being placed in a government conservatorship, a move that could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said allowing the companies to fail would have extracted a far higher price on consumers by driving up the cost of home loans and all other types of borrowing because the failures would “create great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe.”
Hang on to that gold! The federal takeover is one of the largest bail-outs in US history. ACtually don’t worry, The CERN goes on Wednesday ending all existance as we know it.
GENEVA – It has been called an Alice in Wonderland investigation into the makeup of the universe — or dangerous tampering with nature that could spell doomsday.
Whatever the case, the most powerful atom-smasher ever built comes online Wednesday, eagerly anticipated by scientists worldwide who have awaited this moment for two decades.
The multibillion-dollar Large Hadron Collider will explore the tiniest particles and come ever closer to re-enacting the big bang, the theory that a colossal explosion created the universe.
The machine at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, promises scientists a closer look at the makeup of matter, filling in gaps in knowledge or possibly reshaping theories.
The first beams of protons will be fired around the 17-mile tunnel to test the controlling strength of the world’s largest superconducting magnets. It will still be about a month before beams traveling in opposite directions are brought together in collisions that some skeptics fear could create micro “black holes” and endanger the planet.
The project has attracted researchers of 80 nationalities, some 1,200 of them from the United States, which contributed $531 million of the project’s price tag of nearly $4 billion.
“This only happens once a generation,” said Katie Yurkewicz, spokeswoman for the U.S. contingent at the CERN project. “People are certainly very excited.”
The collider at Fermilab outside Chicago could beat CERN to some discoveries, but the Geneva equipment, generating seven times more energy than Fermilab, will give it big advantages.
The CERN collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel 150 to 500 feet under the bucolic countryside on the French-Swiss border.
Once the beam is successfully fired counterclockwise, a clockwise test will follow. Then the scientists will aim the beams at each other so that protons collide, shattering into fragments and releasing energy under the gaze of detectors filling cathedral-sized caverns at points along the tunnel.
CERN dismisses the risk of micro black holes, subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.
But the skeptics have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Hawaii and in the European Court of Human Rights to stop the project. They unsuccessfully mounted a similar action in 1999 to block the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York state.
CERN’s collider has been under construction since 2003, financed mostly by its 20 European member states. The United States and Japan are major contributors with observer status in CERN.
Scientists started colliding subatomic particles decades ago. As the machines grew more powerful, the experiments revealed that protons and neutrons — previously thought to be the smallest components of an atom — were made of still smaller quarks and gluons.
CERN hopes to recreate conditions in the laboratory a split-second after the big bang, teaching them more about “dark matter,” antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time.
Meanwhile, scientists have found innovative ways to explain the concept in layman’s terms.
The team working on one of the four major installations in the tunnel — the ALICE, or “A Large Ion Collider Experiment” — produced a comic book featuring Carlo the physicist and a girl called Alice to explain the machine’s investigation of matter a split second after the Big Bang.
“We create mini Big Bangs by bumping two nuclei into each other,” Carlo explains to Alice, who has just followed a rabbit down one of the hole-like shafts at CERN.
“This releases an enormous amount of energy that liberates thousands of quarks and gluons normally imprisoned inside the nucleus. Quarks and gluons then form a kind of thick soup that we call the quark-gluon plasma.”
The soup cools quickly and the quarks and gluons stick together to form protons and neutrons, the building blocks of matter.
That will enable scientists to look for still missing pieces to the puzzle — or lead to the formulation of a new theory on the makeup of matter.
Kate McAlpine, 23, a Michigan State University graduate at CERN, has produced the Large Hadron Rap, a video clip that has attracted more than a million views on YouTube.
“The things that it discovers will rock you in the head,” McAlpine raps as she dances in the tunnel and caverns.
CERN spokesman James Gillies said the lyrics are “absolutely scientifically spot on.”
“It’s quite brilliant,” Gillies said.
About as brilliant as using poison to make your dinnerware and waterbottles out of.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Scientists reported this week new evidence that low doses of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), widely used to make plastic food and drinking containers, can impair brain function in primates, extending the findings of previous research conducted in rats.
Whether the amount of BPA that leaches out of containers into food and beverages represents an environmental risk is a subject of controversy.
“Our primate model indicates that BPA could negatively affect brain function in humans,” study investigator Tibor Hajszan said in a press release from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
Hajszan and colleagues examined the influence of continuous exposure to BPA at a daily dose representing the US Environmental Protection Agency’s current reference safe daily limit (50 micrograms per kilogram) in young adult African green monkeys.
According to a report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, BPA completely abolished the formation of some nerve connections in two key regions of the brain – the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
These findings have “profound implications,” the investigators maintain, given the critical role of these nerve connections in cognition and mood.
“Based on these findings, we think the EPA may wish to consider lowering its ‘safe daily limit’ for human BPA consumption,” Hajszan said.
The newsreels show him to be hale and hearty, and full of vigour. But, according to a Japanese expert on North Korea, Kim Jong-il – the “hermit kingdom’s” reclusive leader – died in the autumn of 2003 and a series of stand-ins has taken his place at official state events ever since.
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s respected Waseda University, goes several steps further in his new book, The True Character of Kim Jong Il. He says that the man North Koreans refer to as “Dear Leader” and whose birth was said to have been marked by a new star in the sky, paid as many as six secret visits to Japan between 1982 and 1989, was terrified of a coup and eventually died of diabetes after disappearing from public view for 42 days after September 10, 2003.
She’s not that hot. Really, not my type at all. As attraction goes however, there is a big attraction between the U.S. and China…and they want the world to know it.
BEIJING — The new U.S. Embassy in the Chinese capital is a sprawling maze of glass and concrete that’s the second biggest construction project in the history of the State Department. President Bush himself will inaugurate the complex Friday.
Last week, Chinese officials opened their own giant embassy in Washington, which, at 250,000 square feet, is the biggest embassy in the U.S. capital.
The almost simultaneous inaugurations of the two mega-embassies weren’t a coincidence, U.S. officials said. The two superpowers have been working for years to synchronize the openings days before Friday’s start of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The two countries wanted to send a clear message to the world that Chinese-U.S. ties were what U.S. Ambassador to China Clark T. Randt Jr. called “the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century.”
I went running this morning for the first time in a while. I think the walking helped a lot. I felt like I was running faster and better than before. The bummer is that it seems like every time I get motivated to start running, I encounter some sort of injury. This morning it is my left calve muscle, now I’m limping around the library. Oh well, I’ll just run a little slower tomorrow and be sure to stretch.
I have to say that I appreciate the comments that have been showing up lately. Sometimes with blogging it starts to feel like the only ones reading what you write are yourself and your mom (Hi Mom!) so it feels especially good to get some interaction. I’m changing things up a little bit , trying to incorporate more of me into my posts while still giving you links to stories that catch my interest or I think will catch yours.
As to the comments, I have to moderate them pretty close or we end up with links to animal porn and other foul internet areas. So the deal is that every comment has to be approved by first time commentators, after you are approved though, you can comment at will. I know it can be frustrating to make a comment and not see it immediately, but I do it because of the animal porn. Just say no to animal porn.
People dying while working in factories, exhausted from hunger; policemen stealing food from the people; lack of food, starvation: while world leaders discuss the food problem at the FAO summit, the population of North Korea faces an unprecedented decimation. The annual famine, together with the disastrous flooding last year, has made food impossible to find in the regime headed by Kim Jong-il. According to South Korean non-governmental organisations, the only groups still allowed to bring necessities to the north, 800,000 have already died from hunger.
There is nothing more horrifying than mass starvation, especially when it can be avoided. This is almost a million human beings who are dying in the worst possible way. I would classify this as genocide.
Food shortages are striking world wide and prices are spiking for a variety of reasons. What can you do to keep your own grocery bill lower? Here are 10 ways from Gimundo
1. Shop the bulk bins.
2. Eat less meat.
3. Buy cheaper cuts of meat.
4. Eat your leftovers and take your lunch.
5. Vegetables cost less when they’re in season, and they taste better too.
6. Eat your eggs and demand humane treatment of chickens.
7. Join a co-op or buying club. Or start your own. Find one near you.
8. Plan your menus and shop with a list.
9. Grow your own and learn to dehydrate, freeze, and can foods for the winter.
10. Know when to scrimp and when not to.
When was the last trip you took where:
* the guide wouldn’t allow you to keep your passport?
* you weren’t allowed to use the local currency?
* criticism of the place you traveled could get a guide into serious trouble?
* on your return you felt you had to be careful bringing back books, pins and T-shirts because they might be illegal?
All this and more can be yours with a trip to the DPRK, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Orwellian Country Names, better known as North Korea. In an age where you can get Starbucks on Thai islands, Baskin-Robbins in Saigon, Coke and McDonalds just about everywhere, it’s nice to finally visit a place lacking even the knowledge of such things. The most end-of-the-earth Chinese villager knows of Michael Jordan. In North Korea our big city Pyongyang guides had no clue who he was – until we pointed out his name on an autographed basketball in the Gifts to Kim Jong-il Museum. Then they were sure he must be someone really important. A mere basketball player? No way!
At least I don’t kill cheerleaders
By Kim Jong-il
You know, every now and then a news story comes across the internet that makes me proud to be an authoritarian dictator who merely crushes subjects beneath the heels of his platform shoes.
Take the headline from the US Province of Massachusetts. “Cheerleader Dies From Injuries at Competition”. Then search “cheerleader AND injury OR death AND america “. What you will find is that in the so-called Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, cheerleaders are being killed or maimed like cats in the alley outside a South Korean restaurant!
A few years ago, I got much tut-tutting and tongue-clucking from Western cheerleader apologists because I sent 21 blabbermouth North Korean cheerleaders to prison for talking about what they saw on a school trip to South Korea. For life. What’s so bad about that? Life is the most precious thing we have on earth–much better than death!
Now I find out it’s all a big cover-up. Yes, point the finger at me, Yankee death merchants. Which would you rather be–held in an airy, four-foot cell with two other girls from your pep squad, free to chat without need for iPhone–or dead? Or maybe paralyzed from the neck down because your head cheerleader “accidentally” drops you after a triple-somersault vault?
You get to choose–the hollow “freedom” of America, or glorious penal servitude with the Red Star Dance Team!
This is just too awesome…if you are as fascinated by the weirdness of North Korea…check this out. Warning…these videos are very addictive…watch one and you will watch them all because North Korea is like looking at planet wierd.