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A reality check on Iran and the ‘bomb’ February 27, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Much attention is paid, and rightly so, to the security of Israel and to the interests of the United States, but little attention has been given to Iran’s security needs – the regional problems facing Iran are indeed serious.

Not only does Iran have an ongoing Kurdish (Party For a Free Life in Kurdistan – PJAK) insurgency in its northwestern provinces and a growing Baloch insurgency in the southeastern border areas with Pakistan, the government in Tehran is also deeply concerned at being surrounded by countries that are in various states of collapse or conflict – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the former Soviet Central Asian countries and by potentially hostile forces such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and the massive US military presence in the Gulf.

There can be little doubt that Iran is a potentially major destabilizing factor in the Middle East, it has a more than irrational foreign policy and quite openly supports groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas in Palestine, and it may indeed eventually become a nuclear threat.

But in the long run possession of nuclear weapons is unlikely to be of any tangible benefit to the mullahs, while their actual use would bring the quick and completely justified destruction of the state of Iran.

via Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs.

What Are Those “Toxic Assests” Worth? February 27, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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From late 2005 to the middle of 2007, around $450bn of CDO of ABS were issued, of which about one third were created from risky mortgage-backed bonds (known as mezzanine CDO of ABS) and much of the rest from safer tranches (high grade CDO of ABS.)

Out of that pile, around $305bn of the CDOs are now in a formal state of default, with the CDOs underwritten by Merrill Lynch accounting for the biggest pile of defaulted assets, followed by UBS and Citi.

The real shocker, though, is what has happened after those defaults. JPMorgan estimates that $102bn of CDOs has already been liquidated. The average recovery rate for super-senior tranches of debt – or the stuff that was supposed to be so ultra safe that it always carried a triple A tag – has been 32 per cent for the high grade CDOs. With mezzanine CDO’s, though, recovery rates on those AAA assets have been a mere 5 per cent.

via FT.com / Markets / Insight – Insight: Time to expose those CDOs.

Pork Brains In Milk Gravy February 27, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Humor.
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porkbrains

Pork Brains In Milk Gravy. Could it be the worst food product ever? It does have 1170% of your daily cholesterol per serving.

This is why you’re fat. – Pork Brains In Milk Gravy ….

A Pandemic of Economic Violence February 26, 2009

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Combine these two World Bank findings — zero economic growth in the developing world and rising food prices — and you have a perfect recipe for unrelenting civil unrest and violence. The eruptions seen in 2008 and early 2009 will then be mere harbingers of a grim future in which, in a given week, any number of cities reel from riots and civil disturbances which could spread like multiple brushfires in a drought.

The Great Depression ended in a World War.

via Tomgram: Michael Klare, A Pandemic of Economic Violence.

Americans Soft Tush Kills forests February 26, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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luffiness comes at a price: millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada. Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them.

via Mr. Whipple Left It Out – Soft Is Rough on Forests – NYTimes.com.

Is Food the New Sex? February 26, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Life, Religion.
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Just as the food of today often attracts a level of metaphysical attentiveness suggestive of the sex of yesterday, so does food today seem attended by a similarly evocative — and proliferating — number of verboten signs. The opprobrium reserved for perceived “violations” of what one “ought” to do has migrated, in some cases fully, from one to the other. Many people who wouldn’t be caught dead with an extra ten pounds — or eating a hamburger, or wearing real leather — tend to be laissez-faire in matters of sex. In fact, just observing the world as it is, one is tempted to say that the more vehement people are about the morality of their food choices, themore hands-off they believe the rest of the world should be about sex. What were the circumstances the last time you heard or used the word “guilt” — in conjunction with sin as traditionally conceived? Or with having eaten something verboten and not having gone to the gym?

So if there is a moral to this curious transvaluation, it would seem to be that the norms society imposes on itself in pursuit of its own self-protection do not wholly disappear, but rather mutate and move on, sometimes in curious guises. Far-fetched though it seems at the moment, where mindless food is today, mindless sex — in light of the growing empirical record of its own unleashing — may yet again be tomorrow.

via Hoover Institution – Policy Review – Is Food the New Sex?.

USA – The Great World Hope February 25, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum in his book, “The Case for Goliath.

” When it comes to the way other countries view America’s pre-eminent role in the world, he wrote, “whatever its life span, three things can be safely predicted: they will not pay for it; they will continue to criticize it; and they will miss it when it is gone.”

A senior Korean official remarked to Tom Friedman

“No other country can substitute for the U.S. The U.S. is still No. 1 in military, No. 1 in economy, No. 1 in promoting human rights and No. 1 in idealism. Only the U.S. can lead the world. No other country can. China can’t. The E.U. is too divided, and Europe is militarily far behind the U.S. So it is only the United States … We have never had a more unipolar world than we have today.”

Yes, many Asians resent the fact that Americans scolded them about their banking crisis in the 1990s, and now we’ve made many of the same mistakes. But that schadenfreude doesn’t last long. In random conversations here in Seoul with Korean and Asian thinkers, journalists and business executives, I found people really worried: Could it be, they ask, that the Americans don’t know what they are doing, or, worse, that they know what they are doing but the problem is just so much bigger than anything we’ve ever seen?

via Op-Ed Columnist – Paging Uncle Sam – NYTimes.com.

Why Burma Matters February 23, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Burma’s hill tribes form part of a new and larger geopolitical canvas. Burma fronts on the Indian Ocean, by way of the Bay of Bengal. Its neighbors India and China (not to mention Thailand) covet its abundant oil, natural gas, uranium, coal, zinc, copper, precious stones, timber, and hydropower. China especially needs a cooperative, if not supine, Burma for the construction of deepwater ports, highways, and energy pipelines that can open China’s landlocked south and west to the sea, enabling its ever-burgeoning middle class to receive speedier deliveries of oil from the Persian Gulf. These routes must pass north from the Indian Ocean through the very territories wracked by Burma’s ethnic insurrections.

via Lifting the Bamboo Curtain – The Atlantic (September 2008).

The War on Drugs Is a Failure February 23, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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The revision of U.S.-inspired drug policies is urgent in light of the rising levels of violence and corruption associated with narcotics. The alarming power of the drug cartels is leading to a criminalization of politics and a politicization of crime. And the corruption of the judicial and political system is undermining the foundations of democracy in several Latin American countries.

Mr. Cardoso is the former president of Brazil. Mr. Gaviria is a former president of Colombia. Mr. Zedillo is a former president of Mexico.

via The War on Drugs Is a Failure – WSJ.com.

What We Can Learn From Japan February 23, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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“Japan is so dependent on exports that when overseas markets slow down, Japan’s economy teeters on collapse,” said Hideo Kumano, an economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. “On the surface, Japan looked like it had recovered from its Lost Decade of the 1990s. But Japan in fact entered a second Lost Decade — that of lost consumption.”

via When Consumers Cut Back – A Lesson From Japan – NYTimes.com.

Should We Turn Japanese? February 14, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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“I thought America had studied Japan’s failures,” said Hirofumi Gomi, a top official at Japan’s Financial Services Agency during the crisis. “Why is it making the same mistakes?”

Japan’s problems did not happen at the time of a world-wide downturn. I think that Geithner is afraid that the World Financial System couldn’t handle the Japanese cure right now – The cure could kill the patient.

via Lessons From Japan in Stemming a Crisis – NYTimes.com.

No Jobs = No Peace February 14, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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Just last week, the new United States director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told Congress that instability caused by the global economic crisis had become the biggest security threat facing the United States, outpacing terrorism.

High unemployment rates, especially among young workers, have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs.

via Rise in Jobless Poses Threat to Stability Worldwide – NYTimes.com.

How The West Lost Turkey As An Ally February 14, 2009

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Seven years after the AKP came to power, Turkey’s Islamists have returned to their roots. The AKP experience demonstrates that when Islamist parties moderate, it reflects not a strategic change but a tactical response to strong domestic and foreign opposition. Once these firewalls weaken, Islamist parties regress, driven by popular sentiment. A recent survey shows that the AKP’s popularity jumped 10 percent after the Davos incident, suggesting the party could pass the game-changing 50 percent threshold in the upcoming March 29 local elections. The AKP’s renewed Islamism may play well at the polls. But Turkey, and its allies, will be left worse off for it.

Turkey’s Leaders Show Their Islamist Roots | Newsweek International Edition | Newsweek.com.

We posted  a warning sign back in April of 07 when “Balconies were banned” so “So the traditional women kept inside cannot be seen by the world.””

Homemade Rube Goldberg Rooms February 13, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff.
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What Engineers do when the are bored

Monkeying With Darwin’s Theory of Evolution February 13, 2009

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darwinevolution

Thanks to Adam Brown

It is 150 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which suggested that all living things are related and that everything is ultimately descended from a single common ancestor. This has troubled many, including Darwin himself, as it subverted ideas of divine intervention. It is not surprising that the countries least accepting of evolution today tend to be the most devout. In the most recent international survey available, only Turkey is less accepting of the theory than America. Iceland and Denmark are Darwin’s most ardent adherents. Indeed America has become only slightly more accepting of Darwin’s theory in recent years. In 2008 14% of people polled by Gallup agreed that “man evolved over millions of years”, up from 9% in 1982.

via It is 150 years since the theory of evolution was unveiled, but which countries believe in it? | Untouched by the hand of God | The Economist.

How To Steal $9+ Million in 30 Minutes From ATMs February 12, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Technology.
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How did the hackers steal $9 million in one 30-minute time period using only 100 ATM cards you ask? That shouldn’t be possible given the daily limits (usually about $500/day) placed on all ATM cards. Well it turns out that the hackers applied military like precision to old ATM Scam techniques and added a touch of devious ingenuity to pull this one off. Here is a look at how the theft was perpetrated.

via Largest Coordinated ATM Rip-off Ever Nets $9+ Million in 30 Minutes | NetworkWorld.com Community. (more…)

Starbucks vs. McDonald’s Poll February 12, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Food, Lifestyle.
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Would you prefer to live in a place with more McDonald’s or more Starbucks? A new report from the Pew Research Center tells of the results it got when posing that oddball question last October in one of its Social & Demographics Trend surveys. Overall, respondents preferred a place with more McDonald’s (the choice of 43 percent) to one with more Starbucks (35 percent, with the rest declining to choose). As you’d guess, though, the pattern of response differed significantly among different demographic cohorts.

via Starbucks America vs. McDonald’s America. (more…)

Train Just Misses Car February 10, 2009

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Train Just Misses Car", posted with vodpod

Hundreds Protest Global Warming February 8, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Humor.
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snowmen

Till Children Do Us Part February 8, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle.
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More than 25 separate studies have established that marital quality drops, often quite steeply, after the transition to parenthood. And forget the “empty nest” syndrome: when the children leave home, couples report an increase in marital happiness.

Parents today spend much more time with their children than they did 40 years ago. The sociologists Suzanne Bianchi, John Robinson and Melissa Milkie report that married mothers in 2000 spent 20 percent more time with their children than in 1965. Married fathers spent more than twice as much time.

Couples found some of these extra hours by cutting back on time spent in activities where children were not present — when they were alone as a couple, visiting with friends and kin, or involved in clubs. But in the long run, shortchanging such adult-oriented activities for the sake of the children is not good for a marriage.

Couples who don’t, investing too much in their children and not enough in their marriage, may find that when the demands of child-rearing cease to organize their lives, they cannot recover the relationship that made them want to have children together in the first place. As the psychologist Joshua Coleman suggests, the airline warning to put on your own oxygen mask before you place one on your child also holds true for marriage.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Till Children Do Us Part – NYTimes.com.

The Real Story Behind The Surge February 8, 2009

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Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was an unlikely dissident, with little in his past to suggest that he would buck his superiors and push the U.S. military in radically new directions.

Communicating almost daily by phone with retired Gen. Jack Keane, an influential former Army vice chief of staff and his most important ally in Washington, Odierno launched a guerrilla campaign for a change in direction in Iraq, conducting his own strategic review and bypassing his superiors to talk through Keane to White House staff members and key figures in the military. It would prove one of the most audacious moves of the Iraq war, and one that eventually reversed almost every tenet of U.S. strategy

via The Dissenter Who Changed the War.

Man calls 911 after Burger King runs out of lemonade February 7, 2009

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BOYNTON BEACH — A man was charged with misusing 911 today for a midnight complaint that a Boynton Beach Burger King had run out of lemonade, police say.

Jean Fortune, 66, dialed 911 and told dispatchers he was “unhappy with his order” at the Burger King at 1521 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., according to an arrest report.

When a Boynton Beach police officer arrived, the cashier told him she had informed Fortune at the drive-thru that the store no longer served lemonade. He became angry when he picked up his order at the window and threatened to call police.

The cashier told him to “Go ahead.”

The officer noted in his report that Fortune could not explain why he resorted to calling 911 for a “civil dilemma.”

via Man calls 911 after Burger King runs out of lemonade.

Redneck Seafood Dinner February 5, 2009

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Thanks to Liz wunderlich

Thanks to Liz Wunderlich

$20 Laptop February 5, 2009

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The ambitous initiative will be under consideration at a National Mission on Education launch in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, on Tuesday. Pioneered in India by scientists at Indian scientific and technological institutes and a state-owned semi-conductor laboratory, the laptop has 2Gb Ram capacity and wireless connectivity.

R.P. Agrawal, secretary of secondary and higher education, told reporters last week that the cost of the laptop was about $20 a unit, but he expected that to fall. He also said he expected the units to be commercially available in six months.

via FT.com / India / Politics & Society – India to follow $2,000 car with $20 laptop.

Biggest Housing Bubble Of The Century February 5, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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mortgage-bubble-chartThis chart puts the size of the last Housing Bubble in perspective and show us how far we have to go to correct it.

The next chart shows how far we have come in downgrading 56% of all Mortgage-Backed Securities issued from 2005 through 2007 Bubble. mortgage-downgrades

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