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Archive for May 2011

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Obama and Israel

Obama Walking a Fine Line on Borders Issue

May 31st 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama in deep thought

On May 19, President Barack Obama delivered powerful remarks on democracy and reform in the Middle East. He not only raised these normally hortatory ideals to top-tier U.S. interests, but he put the dictator of America’s most dangerous Arab antagonist—Syria’s Bashar Assad—on personal notice that he may soon find himself joining the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia in forced retirement. All this was welcome news.

The last part of the president’s remarks, however, took a different course. After critiquing Arab regimes that have used the Arab-Israeli conflict as a distraction from their own internal problems, he undermined the potency and effect of his own message by unveiling new—and controversial—principles guiding U.S. efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace. Read more ..

Economic Recovery on Edge

As Fannie, Freddie Flounder, Six Top Execs Receive Handsome Rewards

May 31st 2011

Economy - One Million Dollars

Over the last two years, the Obama administration has approved a whopping $34.4 million in compensation to the top six executives of the financially troubled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage giants while lacking basic protections to ensure such compensation is warranted, a federal watchdog found.

The largesse flowed to the six executives even though the two companies they run struggle to staunch billions of dollars in losses, remain in government conservatorship, and are required to repay taxpayers for assuming the companies’ liabilities during the mortgage crisis. Fannie and Freddie are tapping Treasury Department funds each quarter to help pay 10 percent dividends owed to the U.S. government. Read more ..

Culture Clashes

The Miseducation of America

May 31st 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Back in the “good ole days” (which usually tend to have occurred exactly one hundred years before the phrase is uttered), doing business in America was simple. Entrepreneurs completed deals using only back of the envelope calculations and a firm handshake. They didn’t need any of those Wall Street wizards with their fancy forecasting and analysis methods. Big Government wasn’t looking over your shoulder or strangling you with red tape. You didn’t need a fancy college degree to make something of yourself. All you needed to achieve wealth were willingness to work hard and a spark of inventiveness.

A profile of the typical millionaire in the United States seems to confirm this narrative. Most millionaires, according to the seminal book The Millionaire Next Door, didn’t make their money in some highly complex business. In fact, it was usually some ordinary business—say construction or dry cleaning—that vaulted them into the ranks of the wealthy. Although fairly educated—almost 80 percent have a college education—education was not the distinguishing factor that accounted for their wealth. Nor was it above average performance in the marketplace, inheritance, or even the type of profession they occupied. The single biggest factor among them was their propensity to save.

Wealthy people, on average, save a far higher percentage of their income than their non-wealthy counterparts. Some would argue that of course the wealthy save more, because they do not need as much of their income to cover living expenses as ordinary people. But the data refute this. The propensity to save is a precondition, not a result of wealth. Read more ..

Economic Recovery on Edge

Credit Unions Remake Themselves in Image of Payday Lenders

May 31st 2011

Economy - Payday Loan Sign

To millions of member-customers, credit unions are the financial equivalent of a trusted uncle, dispensing prudent loans for cars, homes, and education without the profit motive of traditional banks.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which supervises and insures about 4,600 federally-chartered credit unions, says they operate with a “not for profit but for service” philosophy, providing “an alternative to the oppressive loan rates charged by predatory lenders.”

But encouraged by federal regulators, an increasing number of credit unions are competing directly with traditional payday lenders, selling small loans at prices far higher than they are permitted to charge for any other product. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

The Borders Everyone Agrees to—Except the Palestinians

May 31st 2011

Israel Topics - A map

Be scared. Be very scared.

In a shocking article in the Jerusalem Post, editor-in-chief David Horovitz reveals that Israel is totally unprepared for the possibility that the UN might grant the Palestinians a state in September and then try to impose this state on Israel against its will.

Previously, Israeli diplomats were complacent because they thought that even if the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for the establishment of “Palestine,” such a vote would be merely “declaratory” and have no teeth, writes Horovitz.

But this is wrong. Research conducted by the Israel Project reveals that there is an obscure UN resolution, UNGA Resolution 377, that allows the General Assembly to press for sanctions and military force against a country that fails to implement its recommendations. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Obama’s Push-Pull Strategy: How Washington Should Plan for a Post-Assad Syria

May 31st 2011

Syrian Issues - Day of Rage in Syria Urged

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama gave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum: Lead a transition to democracy, or, in Obama’s words, “get out of the way.” The speech recognized an inconvenient truth for Washington: Although the Assad regime has not yet reached a tipping point like that of the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes, nearly three months of protests across Syria have shaken the Assad regime to its core. Government forces have killed 1,000 protesters and arrested another 10,000, yet demonstrators continue to fill the streets demanding the fall of the government. Assad is now caught in a dilemma: He can continue relying on his fellow Alawite security chiefs and the minority system they dominate to persecute the predominately Sunni protesters, or he can enact deep political reforms that could convince the protesters to return home but would end the Alawite-led system on which he so heavily relies. Either way, the Assad regime as it has existed for more than four decades is disintegrating. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Capacitor Choice is Key to Solar PV Economics

May 31st 2011

Energy Topics - Custom capacitor for PV array
PV array with custom capacitors (credit: Enecsys)

In the continuing effort to develop solar photovoltaic arrays as a viable long-term renewable-energy source, the modules (panels) themselves, and the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells that they comprise, have attracted greatest attention. This is hardly surprising, as they are the visible part of the system, and the one where a great deal of research effort has been directed into continuously improving conversion efficiency.

While efforts continue in many laboratories on thin-film and amorphous-silicon cells, it is the mono-crystalline cell that continues to lead in efficiency, with researchers seeking every possible percentage point beyond the low-20 percent region. That hard-won conversion efficiency can easily be wasted and the very feasibility of solar PV as a reliable energy source challenged, without an effective design in the other—and in many respects more critical—major component of the system: the inverter. PV cells produce DC, but very few applications employ that DC output directly. Most, perhaps 95 percent, provide AC power to conventional electrical installations, and feed that power into the AC grid. Within the renewable-energy sector, it is widely recognized that the critical component in the power chain is the inverter. Read more ..

Media Freedom

Journalists Intimidated with Impunity by Salvadoran Death Squads

May 31st 2011

Latin American Topics - Protest against killing of journalists

Death threats targeting journalists were distressingly common during the tumultuous Salvadoran Civil War that took place in the late seventies and eighties. Over the course of the war, a total of twenty-five to thirty journalists fell victim to the various death squads operating in the country. Alarmingly, today in El Salvador, journalists are once again the objects of threats aimed at silencing human rights advocates working within its borders. On May 5th, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) posted an urgent notice stating that death threats have been issued against Radio Victoria journalists.

Radio Victoria, based in the department of Cabañas, provides a critical source of news and information concerning the social, environmental, and controversial labor impacts of The Pacific Rim Mining Company. Radio Victoria’s forthright journalistic style and its tenacious anti-mining stance, as well as its vigorous investigative journalism, may have prompted these threats, which were issued undoubtedly in an effort to stifle freedom of expression. Despite national police security officers posted to stand guard outside the station, the anonymous “extermination group” has successfully delivered a series of threats both to the Cabañas office of the radio station and to the journalists’ personal phones via text message. Read more ..

Edge on Latin America

Return of Zelaya to Tegucigalpa Augurs Honduras' Return to the OAS

May 31st 2011

Latin American Topics - Zelaya returns to Honduras

On May 22nd, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo and former President Manuel Zelaya signed an accord in Cartagena, Colombia providing a path for Zelaya’s return to Honduras from exile, as well as the readmission of Honduras to the Organization of American States (OAS). A May 2nd ruling by the Honduran Supreme Court annulled the criminal charges against Zelaya, thus permitting him to safely return to his country. His main advisor, Rasel Tomé, announced that Zelaya is likely to arrive on the weekend of May 28th. Zelaya’s return to Honduras is the principal requirement for Honduras’ readmission to the OAS. Accordingly, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza has announced that Honduras has already met the necessary conditions for its reentry into the organization. Read more ..

Australia's Place in the Universe Assured

May 30th 2011
As a Monash University alum, I can say that I and every Australian is proud that a student here, 22-year old Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, helped locate the great missing matter in the universe (see Australian Student Astronomer Finds Universe's Missing Mass, Page One, May 29, 2011). I think Australia's place in the universe is now assured.

Obama and Israel

Obama’s Recent Speeches Show Hostility To Israel & Support for Palestinian Positions

May 30th 2011

Israel Topics - Obama Netanyahu Abbas1

There are numerous and varied problems contained in President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy pronouncements in recent days. Here follows a detailed analysis of the failings of his approach articulated in his two recent speeches, one before the State Department on May 19, and the second before AIPAC on May  22, that mark out his policy towards Israel to be hostile and dangerous.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal in an article this week entitled “Obama—An Anti-Israel President”, wrote that President Obama showed contempt to Israel and its supporters this week. “His speeches were stocked with the perennial bromides about US/Israeli friendship which brought an anxious crowd to its feet.  As for the rest, it was a thin tissue of falsehoods rhetoric legerdemain, telling omissions and self-contradictions.” Read more ..

Once Again Science is Slapped Awake

May 30th 2011
Once again, science is slapped awake--this time by a Monash University astronomy student no less, who just happened to discover a large chunk of the missing matter in the universe that had baffled and eluded so many experts before him (see Australian Student Astronomer Finds Universe's Missing Mass, Page One, May 29, 2011). The greatest minds thought the world was flat, but they soon discovered they were wrong. Until the mid-20th Century, no one understood the existence of tectonic plates that move entire continents. To me this is a re-affirmation that our ignorance is far greater than our grasp, and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can find an entire universe of reality.

Edge of Human Rights

Latin America's Advances Towards Gay Rights

May 30th 2011

Latin American Topics - Gay Guevara

The Brazilian Supreme Court’s recognition of same-sex unions in early May marks the latest victory for gay rights in Latin America. The Court’s ruling grants equal legal rights to same-sex civil unions as those enjoyed by married heterosexuals, including retirement benefits, joint tax declarations, inheritance rights, and child adoption. While the Supreme Court did not go so far as to legalize gay marriage, gay rights groups such as Rio de Janeiro’s Rainbow Group have nevertheless praised the decision as an “historic achievement.” The decision passed 10-0 with one abstention, but the justice who abstained had previously spoken in favor of same-sex unions.

An Unlikely Victory

As the world’s largest Roman Catholic country, Brazil was an unlikely venue for such a promising gay rights victory. The Roman Catholic Church has actively fought proposals for same-sex unions in Brazil, arguing that the Brazilian Constitution defines a “family entity” as “a stable union between a man and a woman.” Read more ..

The Arab Spring

Obama and the Arab Spring

May 30th 2011

Arab Topics - Map of Middle East

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a May speech on the Middle East. Presidents make many speeches. Some are meant to be taken casually, others are made to address an immediate crisis, and still others are intended to be a statement of broad American policy. As in any country, U.S. presidents follow rituals indicating which category their speeches fall into. Obama clearly intended his recent Middle East speech to fall into the last category, as reflecting a shift in strategy if not the declaration of a new doctrine.

While events in the region drove Obama’s speech, politics also played a strong part, as with any presidential speech. Devising and implementing policy are the president’s job. To do so, presidents must be able to lead—and leading requires having public support. After the 2010 election, I said that presidents who lose control of one house of Congress in midterm elections turn to foreign policy because it is a place in which they retain the power to act. The U.S. presidential campaign season has begun, and the United States is engaged in wars that are not going well. Within this framework, Obama thus sought to make both a strategic and a political speech. Read more ..

After bin Laden

The Bin Laden Operation: Tapping Human Intelligence

May 30th 2011

Terrorism - Osama bin-Laden preaching

Since May 2, when U.S. special operations forces crossed the Afghan-Pakistani border and killed Osama bin Laden, international media have covered the raid from virtually every angle. The United States and Pakistan have also squared off over the U.S. violation of Pakistan’s sovereign territory and Pakistan’s possible complicity in hiding the al Qaeda leader. All this surface-level discussion, however, largely ignores almost 10 years of intelligence development in the hunt for bin Laden.

While the cross-border nighttime raid deep into Pakistan was a daring and daunting operation, the work to find the target—one person out of 180 million in a country full of insurgent groups and a population hostile to American activities on its soil—was a far greater challenge. For the other side, the challenge of hiding the world’s most wanted man from the world’s most funded intelligence apparatus created a clandestine shell game that probably involved current or former Pakistani intelligence officers as well as competing intelligence services. The details of this struggle will likely remain classified for decades. Read more ..

Economic Recovery on Edge

Chrysler Repays its Bailout Money; Obama takes Victory Lap

May 30th 2011

Automotive - Chrysler HQ

President Obama hailed Chrysler’s repayment of its 2009 bailout loans Tuesday and took credit for the automaker’s revival.

The White House said the repayment “marks a significant milestone for the turnaround of Chrysler and the countless communities and families who rely on the American auto industry.”

Obama said it was because of his own actions that Chrysler was able to rebound from its government-supervised bankruptcy, which resulted in its acquisition by Italian automaker Fiat.

“Supporting the American auto industry required making some tough decisions, but I was not willing to walk away from the workers at Chrysler and the communities that rely on this iconic American company,” Obama said in a statement.

“I said if Chrysler and all its stakeholders were willing to take the difficult steps necessary to become more competitive, America would stand by them, and we did,” Obama said. Read more ..

Edge of Climate Change

Don’t You Dare Connect Disasters to Climate Change

May 30th 2011

Disaster - Joplin MO May 2011 - Tornado
Tornado-damaged Joplin, Mo., May 2011 (credit: KOMU News)

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections.

When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history).

No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. Read more ..

The Arab Spring

US Aid to Arab Spring Must Foster Democracy—Not Fascism

May 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Walid Phares new

President Obama’s grand plan to provide U.S. financial aid to emerging democracies in the Middle East, Egypt, and Tunisia now, and possibly later a post-Saleh Yemen and post-Assad Syria, may be commendable but could bring catastrophic results.

If the billions in foreign debt-to-be-forgiven or granted in cash to be invested will be used by democratic governments in the region to move their societies away from fundamentalism, radicalism, and inequality toward secular, liberal democracy, then the financial support is commensurate with American ideals, the will of the American people and their elected leaders.

If the aid will be used to fund programs instituted by the Islamists and their movements, old and new, then the Obama administration’s new Middle East initiative will cause greater injustice for the peoples of the region, and eventually produce greater conflicts for future American generations.

President Obama’s speech and comments by his advisers attempted to liken the alleged “historic” aid package for the countries arising out of the Middle East revolts, to the Marshall Plan which helped many European countries cope with post-World War II economic stresses.

The major difference then and now between Europe and the Middle East is that while European societies had already experienced and were returning to democracy after a few years of fascism, most of the Arab world has no experience with liberal democracy and those societies that have arisen against authoritarianism are still threatened by jihadi fascism. Read more ..

Edge of the Universe

Australian Student Astronomer Finds Universe's Missing Mass

May 29th 2011

Science - Blue sphere in space

An Australian student at Monash University has made a breakthrough in the field of astrophysics, discovering what has until now been described as the Universe’s ‘missing mass.’ Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, working as a member of a team at the Monash School of Physics, conducted a targeted X-ray search for the matter and within just three months found it – or at least some of it.

What makes the discovery all the more noteworthy is the fact that Fraser-McKelvie is not a career researcher, or even studying at a postgraduate level. She is a 22-year-old undergraduate Aerospace Engineering/Science student who pinpointed the missing mass during a summer scholarship, working with two astrophysicists at the School of Physics, Dr. Kevin Pimbblet and Dr. Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway. Read more ..

Edge of Space

When Galaxies Collide ... Five Billion Years from Now

May 29th 2011

Science - Cloud D2 Cygnus region, Spitzer

Five billion years from now, our Milky Way galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy. This will mark a moment of both destruction and creation. The galaxies will lose their separate identities as they merge into one. At the same time, cosmic clouds of gas and dust will smash together, triggering the birth of new stars.

To understand our past and imagine our future, we must understand what happens when galaxies collide. But since galaxy collisions take place over millions to billions of years, we can't watch a single collision from start to finish. Instead, we must study a variety of colliding galaxies at different stages. By combining recent data from two space telescopes, astronomers are gaining fresh insights into the collision process."We've assembled an atlas of galactic 'train wrecks' from start to finish. This atlas is the first step in reading the story of how galaxies form, grow, and evolve," said lead author Lauranne Lanz of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Read more ..

Ancient Edge

Research Uncovers Decline of Inca Population under Spanish Rule 440 Years Ago

May 29th 2011

Latin American Topics - Inca woman

Analysis of a 440-year-old document reveals new details about native population decline in the heartland of the Inca Empire following Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

According to the analysis, the native Andean population in the Yucay Valley of Peru showed a remarkable ability to bounce back in the short term from the disease, warfare, and famine that accompanied the initial Spanish invasion. However, it was the repetition of such disasters generation after generation, along with overly rigid colonial administration, that dramatically reduced the population over the long term.

The research, by R. Alan Covey (Southern Methodist University), Geoff Childs (Washington University in St. Louis), and Rebecca Kippen (University of Melbourne), is published in the June issue of the journal Current Anthropology. Read more ..

The Medical Edge

Israeli-Arab Scientist Develops Artificial Nose for Detecting Cancer and Kidney Disease

May 29th 2011

Science - Artificial nose cancer detector

One of the most exciting advances in non-invasive diagnostic tools for cancer and kidney disease is the invention of Israeli-Arab chemical engineer Hossam Haick. A professor at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haick's unique specialty is using breath analysis to detect disease. Born and raised in the Christian Arab enclave of Nazareth, Haick is hardly the only non-Jew to have graduated from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (1998) and the Technion in Haifa (2002). However, few people of any ethnicity have achieved on par with this 35-year-old former Fulbright Fellow.

In 2007, Haick appeared on the Yedioth Aharonot lists of 50 leading Israelis and four saluted Israeli scientists; and in 2008, on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review list of 35 leading young scientists. Last year, he was named one of the 10 Most Promising Young Israeli Scientists by Calcalist and one of the Jerusalem Post's Young Israelis of the Year. "Throughout my educational career, many good people encouraged me to proceed beyond my personal limits and capabilities," Haick stated, "and every time I found such supportive people I took them as a role model." Read more ..

The Race for Alt Fuel

Northwest Aviation Biofuels Industry Needs Political Boost

May 29th 2011

Transportation Topics - Frankfurt Airport

The Pacific Northwest has the diverse feedstocks, fuel-delivery infrastructure and political will needed to create a viable biofuels industry capable of reducing greenhouse gases and meeting the future fuel demands of the aviation industry. Creating an aviation biofuels industry, however, will depend upon securing early government policy support to prioritize the aviation industry in U.S. biofuel development. That's the conclusion announced in a 10-month study by Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest, the nation's first regional stakeholder effort to explore the feasibility, challenges and opportunities for creating an aviation biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest. Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University partnered in a strategic initiative to identify the potential pathways and actions necessary to make safe, sustainable aviation biofuel commercially available to airline operators in the area. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Can Peace Come If Israel Returns to Pre-1967 Borders

May 29th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard
Mitch Bard

When President Barack Obama said, "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded sharply by declaring "[Israel] cannot go back to the 1967 lines - because these lines are indefensible." In stating this position, Netanyahu was reiterating the longstanding view of the government of Israel. In the wake of the Six Day War, and Israel's capture of the West Bank and Golan Heights, Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the United Nations: "The June [1967] map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz." Nearly thirty years later, soon after signing the Oslo Peace Accords, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear: "The border of the State of Israel ... will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the June 1967 lines."

What Eban and Rabin understood, and what countless military and legislative officials - both in Israel and the United States - have echoed, is that by withdrawing to the pre-1967 lines, Israel would lose all of its strategic, tactical, geographic and topographic advantages, opening up its homefront to easy attack. Strategically, by completely withdrawing, Israel would lose its extensive system of early-warning radars, its bases of operations that have worked to halt Palestinian terrorism and its control over the Jordan Rift Valley that allows the Israel Defense Forces to prevent the smuggling of illegal weapons and protects Israel from the type of invasion it faced in 1948 and 1967. Read more ..

Egypt After the Revolt

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood on the March—Cautiously

May 29th 2011

Egypt - Members of Muslim Brotherhood

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officially registered on May18 for the formation of a new political wing, paving the way for the establishment of the Freedom and Justice Party. With parliamentary elections scheduled in September, Freedom and Justice is expected to do well at the first polls of the post-Mubarak era. Just how well is the main question on the minds of the country’s ruling military council, which would prefer to hand off the day-to-day responsibilities of governing Egypt, while holding onto real power behind the scenes.

Leading MB official Saad al-Katatny, one of the founders of Freedom and Justice, said he hopes for the party to officially begin its activities June 17, and to begin selecting its executive authority and top leaders one month later. Members of Egypt’s Political Parties Affairs Committee will convene Sunday to discuss the application and will announce their decision the next day. They are expected to approve the request. Three and a half months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leading Islamist group is on the verge of forming an official political party for the first time in its history. Read more ..

Film Review

There Be Dragons: A Recognizable Portrait of Heroism and Piety

May 29th 2011

Film - There Be Dragon

There Be Dragons: Directed by Roland Joffe. Starring Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley, Olga Kurylenko, Rodrigo Santoro. Length: 100 mins.

Some people will like There Be Dragons by Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields, The Mission) because it is something of a throwback to the Hollywood epics of old in which a (usually) tragic romance is set against the background of real world-historical events like wars and revolutions. The individuals’ experience of these events, as in Gone With the Wind or David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago is supposed to cast dry historical narrative in a new and more thrillingly human light. As an example of this kind of movie, however, I think Mr. Joffe’s film is less than completely successful. What I liked about it was that it was a different kind of throwback: to a time when Hollywood, if only out of its own self-interest in trying to attract an audience largely made up of Christian believers, had to be at least respectful to religion and sometimes produced movies that were themselves quasi-iconic aids to Christian devotion.

Xavier Beauvois’s Of Gods and Men is that kind of movie, but it owes little or nothing to Hollywood. Mr. Joffe’s picture, by contrast, is Hollywood through and through, and that’s its weakness. Half of it is about St. Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox), the founder of Opus Dei, but his story, set against the background of the Spanish Civil War, has to compete with that of a fictional rivalry with his childhood friend, Manolo (Wes Bentley). We learn of Manolo’s joining the Republican side as an agent of the fascists, of his unrequited passion for a Beautiful Hungarian Communist (Olga Kurylenko), of the BHC’s spurning him for love of the Communist leader, Oriol (Rodrigo Santoro), of Manolo’s crises of conscience with regard to (a) the BHC and his rival and (b) his ex-friend, the priest — and, as if all this weren’t enough, of the dying Manolo’s complicated relationship nearly 50 years later with his son, Robert (Dougray Scott), who happens to be writing a biography of Josemaría Escrivá and is only now discovering his father’s relationship with his subject. Read more ..

Edge on Aging

Protein Drinks After Exercise Maintain Aging Muscles

May 29th 2011

Social Topics - Old guy muscles

A new research report shows that what someone drinks after exercise plays a critical role in maximizing the effects of exercise. Specifically, the report shows that protein drinks after aerobic activity increases the training effect after six weeks, when compared to carbohydrate drinks. Additionally, this study suggests that this effect can be seen using as little as 20 grams of protein.

"It is not a mystery that exercise and nutrition help slow the aging process," said Benjamin F. Miller, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. "Studies such as ours help to explain how exercise and nutrition work so that we can better take advantage of those pathways to slow the aging process." The study was published online by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

To make this discovery, scientists recruited 16 participants age 37 and older and instructed them to exercise on treadmills for 45 minutes three times a week for six weeks. After each bout of exercise, one group was given a protein drink and another group was given a carbohydrate drink. To measure the making of new structures in the muscle, metabolic pathways were measured using heavy water labeling. Subjects consumed heavy water, which becomes incorporated into many synthetic processes allowing measurement of the rates at which different components of the muscle are being made. Read more ..

Edge of Computing

Future of Mobile 3-D is a Two-way Street

May 29th 2011

Technology - Mobile phone foto app

From Avatar to Nintendo's 3DS, 3-D entertainment has been popular with consumers for some time now, but it's always been a one way street. Audiences have been able to consume media in 3-D, with the aid of glasses and parallax filters, but they have not been able to communicate back with their devices in the third dimension. XBox Kinect was the first consumer device to introduce depth to its input, and its record-setting sales are a certain indicator of the market's appetite for technology that interfaces in 3-D.

FaceTime may be the utility that grabs the most attention, but iPad and iPhone’s forward-facing camera can do more than just video calling. These cameras act like a little eye that can be programmed to track our heads as we look left and right to produce some of the same movement effects seen with Kinect. Read more ..

Malabar (Sydney)

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Edge of Space

Rapid Formation of Mars Explains Small Size in Relation to Earth

May 29th 2011

Science - Mars and Earth comparison
Credit: Christopher Leather

Mars, the Red Planet, developed far more quickly than our blue planet. Mars is planetary embryo that never collided with other embryos to form an Earthlike planet. Mars developed in as little as two to four million years after the birth of the solar system, far more quickly than Earth, according to results of a new study published in this week's issue of the journal Nature. The red planet's rapid formation helps explain why it is so small, say the study's co-authors, Nicolas Dauphas at the University of Chicago and Ali Pourmand at the University of Miami.

Mars probably is not a terrestrial planet like Earth, which grew to its full size over 50 to 100 million years via collisions with other small bodies in the solar system, said Dauphas, a geophysicist. "Earth was made of embryos like Mars, but Mars is a stranded planetary embryo that never collided with other embryos to form an Earthlike planet," Dauphas said. The new work provides evidence for this idea, which was first proposed 20 years ago on the basis of planetary growth simulations. Read more ..

The Race for Light

Global Market for OLEG Lighting Forecast as $4.8 Billion in 2016

May 29th 2011

Computer Topics - OLED panel research

The global market for OLED lighting will be $4.8 billion in 2016, according to market research firm NanoMarkets LLC. Of that Europe will be responsible for $1.5 billion in OLED lighting panel sales and Asia is expected to provide $2.1 billion.

Japan is set to lead the OLED lighting business in Asia. Japanese companies have taken up key positions across the OLED lighting supply chain Sales of OLED lighting in Japan are expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2016.

Although, the addressable market for OLED lighting in China is limited, NanoMarkets expects the Chinese OLED lighting market to reach $420 million by 2016. OLED lighting is expected to be one of the industries to benefit from government support for technology. For South Korea NanoMarkets predicts OLED lighting sales of $230 million by 2016. However, the influence of Samsung and LG, which have both made a commitment to OLED lighting, should not be underestimated on a global basis.

Genetic Edge

Study of Population Genetics reveals shared Ancestries

May 28th 2011

Africa - Out of Africa

More than just a tool for predicting health, modern genetics is upending long-held assumptions about who we are. A new study by Harvard researchers casts new light on the intermingling and migration of European, Middle Eastern and African and populations since ancient times. In a paper titled "The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines and Jews," published in PLoS Genetics, HMS Associate Professor of Genetics David Reich and his colleagues investigated the proportion of sub-Saharan African ancestry present in various populations in West Eurasia, defined as the geographic area spanning modern Europe and the Middle East. While previous studies have established that such shared ancestry exists, they have not indicated to what degree or how far back the mixing of populations can be traced. Read more ..

Green Futures

More Metal Recycling Can Grow Green Economy

May 28th 2011

Environment Topics - Electronic trash 2

Less than one-third of 60 metals studied have end-of-life recycling rate above 50 percent; 34 are under 1 percent. In addition, smarter product designs, support for developing country waste management schemes, and encouraging households in the developed world not to 'squirrel away' old electronic goods in drawers and closets could help boost recycling of metals world-wide. These are among the conclucions of a report released in Belgium by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  Additionally, recycling rates of metals are in many cases far lower than their potential for re-use. Many of these metals are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrid cars to the magnets in wind turbines, says the study. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Netanyahu's Masterful Response to Obama's Ambush over Relations with Palestinians

May 28th 2011

Israel Topics - Netanyahu addresses Congress

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has responded in a masterful manner to Obama's unanticipated Middle East policy statement - presented without prior consultation on the eve of the Israeli leader's arrival in Washington - hardly how one would expect the US leader to relate to its "close ally," an embattled nation.

Sensitive of the imperative to avoid antagonizing the American public by openly humiliating its president, Netanyahu exercised his diplomatic talent and communication skills by providing a restrained response, and outlining why Israel simply could not afford to adopt some of Obama's recommendations. Our leader's remarks to the press after meeting with the president, his address to AIPAC, and his brilliant presentation to the joint session of Congress represented a tour de force and made most Israelis feel extremely proud. Read more ..

Edge on NarcoTerror

Mexican Drug Lords Decapitate and Dismember a Prosecuting Attorney in Guatemala

May 28th 2011

Latin American Topics - Guatemala - headless corpse

The dismembered and ravaged body of an assistant prosecuting attorney was found in northern Guatemala on May 24, just one day after he had been abducted. The victim, Allan Stowlinsky Vidaurre, is presumed to have been murdered by Los Zetas - a Mexican criminal organization that has become increasingly powerful and violent as it seeks further control of the narcotics trade in Guatemala. The same narcoterrorist organization has been blamed for the mass murder of 27 persons on May 15 in a region of Guatemala bordering Mexico.

According to official sources, "the murdered individual is Assistant Prosecutor Allan Stowlinsky Vidaurre who was abducted yesterday (May 23). He partcipated in the investigations into capturing the presumed leader of the Zetas, Hugo Gomez - a.k.a. El Comandante Bruja (Commander Witch)." Read more ..

Edge on China

The New Silk Road: China’s Energy Strategy in the Greater Middle East—The Four Seas Strategy

May 28th 2011

China Topics - China Energy String of Pearls

As Beijing embarks on its “look west” Silk Road development strategy, Syria’s “look east” policy aims to meet China at the Caspian Sea. Since 2009, Syrian president Bashar al-Asad has promoted his Four Seas strategy to transform his country into a trade hub in the regions bordering the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea, and the Caspian. Damascus has therefore been aligning with key countries that lie on these shores, namely Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan. According to one analyst, Syria’s economic relationship with Ankara lies at the center of this strategy, particularly the two countries’ efforts to connect their oil and gas infrastructure with the region’s expanding pipeline networks. With Turkey emerging as Syria’s most significant investor and trade partner and Iran remaining the guarantor of Syria’s security, the Ankara-Damascus-Tehran triangle has become the nucleus of an approach that aims to include Iraq and the Caucasus in a geographical continuum linking the Four Seas. Read more ..

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Why Not Support the One Existing Democracy in the Middle East

May 26th 2011
It is certainly a glaring example of our hypocrisy that we are moving billions of our tax dollars and battalions of our precious men and women under arms to "promote democracies in the Middle East." But the one flourishing democracy--Israel--Mr. Obama wants to shrink, pressure, and threaten by financing its opposition along the extremists in Egypt. Say what? We have not been able to speak with a clear policy since the Arab uprisings began. We bomb Libya and we baby Bahrain. No wonder we are not respected and ineffectual. The Obama Administration should stand with our one true ally in the Mideast--Israel.

Edge on Electronics

Stretchable Sensors May Improve Airbag Control

May 26th 2011

Science - Stretchable sensors

There are situations when an airbag does not protect but instead hurts car passengers: For instance, if it ignites in a moment when the seat occupant has bent forward. A sensor technology developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) can help to optimize the ignition process by providing information as to the passenger's weight and position. The sensors will be integrated into the seats. They consist of a stretchable elastomer foil which is coated by stretchable electrodes on both sides. In the case the sensor is stretched, for instance by a seat deformation as a consequence of the passenger moving around, the thickness of the foil changes, and thus its capacity. In contrast to conventional resistance strain gauges the elastomer sensors can be stretched by up to 100 percent, said Holger Böse, scientific manager of the ISC Smart Materials Center. Read more ..

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