As part of Bocchignano, Italy's group project "20 Eventi," Jan Vormann went around town and filled in all the cracks in the walls with painstakingly clicked-together patches made from legos. Link (via Cribcandy)
Monday, June 9, 2008
Mr. Maliki met the foreign minister and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who pledged to help with Iraq's security.
The role of the US in Iraq is high on the agenda, with Tehran concerned about a treaty under discussion on the terms of the US military's future in Iraq.
Iran's alleged backing for militants in Iraq was also expected to be discussed.
'Peace and security'
"We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran and neighbours," Iranian state-run media quoted Mr. Maliki as saying after late-night talks with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
In his talks with Mr. Ahmadinejad, Iranian media quoted Mr. Maliki as saying: "A stable Iraq will be a benefit to the security of the region and the world."
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by Frank Rich
Obama Is Presumptive Nominee of the Democratic Party (Photo: Annie Leibovitz)
When Barack Obama achieved his historic victory on Tuesday night, the battle was joined between two Americas. Not John Edwards's two Americas, divided between rich and poor. Not the Americas split by race, gender, party or ideology. What looms instead is an epic showdown between two wildly different visions of the country, from the ground up.
On one side stands Mr. Obama's resolutely cheerful embrace of the future. His vision is inseparable from his identity, both as a rookie with a slim Washington resume; and as a black American whose triumph was regarded as improbable by voters of all races only months ago. On the other is John McCain's promise of a wise warrior's vigilant conservation of the past. His vision, too, is inseparable from his identity - as a government lifer who has spent his entire career in service, whether in the Navy or Washington.
Given the dividing line separating the two Americas of 2008, a ticket uniting Mr. McCain and Hillary Clinton might actually be a better fit than the Obama-Clinton 'dream ticket,' despite their differences on the issues. Never was this more evident than Tuesday night, when Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain both completely misread a one-of-a-kind historical moment as they tried to cling to the prerogatives of the 20th century's old guard.
All presidential candidates, Mr. Obama certainly included, are egomaniacs. But Washington's faith in hierarchical status adds a thick layer of pomposity to politicians who linger there too long. Mrs. Clinton referred to herself by the first-person pronoun 64 times in her speech, and Mr. McCain did so 60 times in his. Mr. Obama settled for 30.
Remarkably, neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. McCain had the grace to offer a salute to Mr. Obama's epochal political breakthrough, which reverberated so powerfully across the country and throughout the world. By being so small and ungenerous, they made him look taller.
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Why bother? That really is the big question facing us as individuals hoping to do something about climate change, and it's not an easy one to answer. I don't know about you, but for me the most upsetting moment in An Inconvenient Truth came long after Al Gore scared the hell out of me, constructing an utterly convincing case that the very survival of life on earth as we know it is threatened by climate change. No, the really dark moment came during the closing credits, when we are asked to ... change our lightbulbs. That's when it got really depressing. The immense disproportion between the magnitude of the problem Gore had described and the puniness of what he was asking us to do about it was enough to sink your heart.
But the drop-in-the-bucket issue is not the only problem lurking behind the "Why bother?" question. Let's say I do bother, big time. I turn my life upside-down, start biking to work, plant a big garden, turn down the thermostat so low I need the Jimmy Carter signature cardigan, forsake the clothes dryer for a laundry line across the yard, trade in the SUV for a hybrid, get off the beef, go completely local. I could theoretically do all that, but what would be the point when I know full well that halfway around the world there lives my evil twin, some carbon-footprint doppelgänger in Shanghai or Chongqing who has just bought his first car (Chinese car ownership is where America's was back in 1918), is eager to swallow every bite of meat I forswear and who is positively itching to replace every last pound of CO2 I'm struggling no longer to emit. So what exactly would I have to show for all my trouble?
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by Nick Juliano
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy is calling on the country's top law enforcement official to ensure access for 9/11 victims' family members to the military tribunal prosecuting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others charged as masterminds of those attacks.
For Mohammed's arraignment Thursday before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon secretly invited only one woman whose brother was a pilot killed in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon in the 2001 attacks. The woman, Debra Burlingame, was un-invited after the New York Daily News revealed she was a "GOP loyalist," who praised President Bush during the 2004 Republican convention and has savaged the 9/11 widows who have questioned the administration's actions.
"I had hoped we had achieved a level of respect for victims' rights that would respect their dignity and interests," Leahy wrote to Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday. "I am writing to you to urge you to help remedy these matters without delay."
A Leahy press release distributing the letter noted reports that an "outspoken supporter of the Bush administration" was the only invitee to Mohammed's arraignment.
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Why peer-to-peer is efficient
When a user wishes to download a file from a website, the submit a HTTP GET request. This request for the file uses a single TCP socket, and communicates with a single server which transfers the entire file. By contrast, a P2P protocol creates TCP connections with multiple hosts and makes many small data requests to each. The P2P client then combines the chunks to recreate the file. A single file host will usually have limited upload capacity, but connecting to many servers simultaneously allows for higher file transfers, and disperses the costs associated with data transfers amongst many peers. Moreover, a client mid-way through downloading the file also acts as a server, hosting the bits to others which they have already downloaded. These differences from traditional HTTP GET requests allow for lower costs and higher redundancy since many people are sharing the files.
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Microorganisms can be turned into biodiesel, and the cost is going down
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The 16 big flasks of bubbling bright green liquids in Roger Ruan's lab at the University of Minnesota are part of a new boom in renewable energy research.
Driven by renewed investment as oil prices push $100 a barrel, Ruan and scores of scientists around the world are racing to turn algae into a commercially viable energy source.
Some varieties of algae are as much as 50 percent oil, and that oil can be converted into biodiesel or jet fuel. The biggest challenge is slashing the cost of production, which by one Defense Department estimate is running more than $20 a gallon.
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The U.S. Has Rivals and Competitors, Not Enemies
"A Gallup poll," Libby Quaid wrote for the Associated Press on June 2nd, "found that two-thirds of [Americans] said they believe it would be a good idea for the president to meet with the leaders of enemy countries."
Who are they referring to? An enemy is a country with whom a nation is at war. "Enemy countries"? We have enemies (hi, Osama). We have critics. We even have competitors. But the United States doesn't have enemy countries.
September 11 aside, citizens of the United States should feel secure. We border big oceans and two close allies–more like wholly owned subsidiaries. As for the rest of the world, well, they've been pretty nice to us.
Not that we deserve it. Since 1941, the U.S. has attacked, among others, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba, Cambodia, Laos, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, the Philippines, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Not once were we defending ourselves. We were always the aggressor. Over the course of six decades during which we were the world's leading instigator of armed conflict, no one attacked us–not even the people we attacked! No one declared war upon us.
Yet everywhere you turn, on every channel and in every newspaper, there's some politician or journalist using that word to describe another country: enemy. John McCain bashes Barack Obama for appeasing "the enemy" (he means Iran). Writing in the Wall Street Journal, also about Obama and Iran, Joe Lieberman sniped: "Too many Democrats seem to have become confused about the difference between America's friends and America's enemies." After 9/11 self-loathing gay neoconservative blogger Andrew Sullivan called opponents of the Bush Administration "the enemy within the West itself–a paralyzing, pseudo-clever, morally nihilist fifth column." The Bush Administration even incorporates the E-word in a term it invented, found nowhere in U.S. or international law, to describe its political prisoners: "unlawful enemy combatants."
Enemies! Enemies! Enemies! Enemies everywhere, but never an attack.
Iran isn't an enemy. It's a regional rival, a competitor, and a relatively good-natured one at that. Not only did the Iranians open a western front against the Taliban during America's 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, they offered assistance to downed U.S. pilots. Iran has requested talks leading to the establishment of full diplomatic relations. We keep refusing. The British have since backed away from their claims that new Iranian-made improvised explosive devices were killing U.S. occupation troops in Iraq. (The story never made sense, given that they were used by Sunni insurgent groups–who hate Shiite Iran.)
Occasionally someone tries to point out the obvious: we're not at war. No war = no enemies. It's the truth. But the truth doesn't go over well.
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Carole Vann/Juan Gasparini/Human Rights Tribune - The news that the US has completely withdrawn from the Human Rights Council spread like wildfire Friday afternoon (June 6) through the corridors of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. There was general consternation amongst diplomats and NGOS. Reached by phone, the American mission in Geneva neither confirmed nor denied the report. Although unofficial, the news comes at a time of long opposition by the Bush administration to the reforms which created the Human Rights Council in June 2006. Washington announced from the beginning that the US would not be an active member but its observer status would mean that it could intervene during the sessions. To date even this has rarely happened.
"We don't understand the reasons nor the timing of the decision", said Sebastien Gillioz of Human Rights Watch. "There have even been some positive signs during this Council. For example Belarus was not re-elected as a member in 2007 nor Sri Lanka this year".
The stupefaction was made greater by the fact the US actively took part in the universal Periodic Review (UPR) process where 32 countries were scrutinized by their peers in April and May. In particular a series of recommendations were made regarding Romania, Japan, Guatemala, Peru, Tunisia, Ukraine, Indonesia and others.
Diplomats are equally concerned. If the current president of the Council, Doru Costea, declined to comment, his predecessor, Luis Alfonso De Alba said that he didnt see any reason to justify such a decision. Several observers mentioned Washington's growing discontentment with the influence of the Islamic and African countries in the Council.
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The National Association of Broadcasters wants you to believe that unlicensed broadband devices in the TV white spaces will break up granny's Washington Redskins game, and wireless microphone firms want you to believe that church services and Grand Ole Opry shows alike will be disrupted. But at the National Conference for Media Reform here in Minneapolis, opinion was unanimous in the other direction. As Maura Corbett of the Wireless Innovation Alliance put it, those hoping for more unlicensed spectrum "don't have that many chances left" should the white spaces not be thrown open to innovation.
White spaces, big hopes
White spaces are blank spots in the TV lineup where no stations transmit; they vary in number and location around the country, but even major markets have open slots. Tech companies and digital rights groups have been pushing hard at the FCC to make these white spaces available for broadband access. While the FCC has already approved the idea of fixed transmitters, the more contentious issue is whether millions of consumers should be allowed to install mobile, unlicensed transmitters in homes and businesses.
The WIA represents companies like Google, Philips, and Microsoft that are trying to build the devices in question, so it's no surprise that Corbett is bullish on the possibilities, dismissive of interference complaints, and given to talking of white spaces as a crucial battleground. But she's not the only one.
Tim Wu of Columbia Law School agreed that white spaces are "almost the last hope" for unlicensed public spectrum. Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance said that "WiFi isn't going to get the job done" and that "we need better spectrum." And Wally Bowen of the Mountain Area Information Network in rural North Carolina claimed that white spaces devices could "solve the rural broadband problem" by being mounted on Forest Service towers to deliver Internet access to rural residents who can currently get none.
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Virgin Media -- the UK's largest cable-modem provider -- has decided that it will spy on its users to protect the record industry. It is sending out letters to thousands of customers warning them that infringement has been detected on their network connections (Virgin customers who leave their WiFi open -- as I did, when I had their cable-modem service -- will be collateral damage in this fight). Virgin is under no obligation to do this. The law is clear that they bear no liability for downloading on their network, nor do they have any duty to spy on users or send out warnings. This is entirely off their own bat, and will come straight out of the company's bottom line. Of course, the British record industry is ecstatic and sees this as the first step in getting a law passed that will require every ISP to spy on every Internet user in the country and cut off infringers.
The campaign is a joint venture between Virgin Media and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which represents the major record labels. The BPI ultimately wants internet companies to implement a "three strikes and out" rule to warn and ultimately disconnect the estimated 6.5 million customers whose accounts are used for regular criminal activity.
Oh sure -- you download a couple-three songs and we'll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Real proportional. Link
By Brian Boyd
DARTMOUTH — A couple tried to beat the high cost of gasoline by hoarding it in their apartment, but the plan backfired when fumes ignited, causing a fire that displaced residents from eight units in the complex, officials said.
Wednesday's blaze at Ledgewood Commons, fueled by the gas stored in a utility closet, was quickly extinguished by firefighters. However, the incident had the potential for disaster.
"If it had not been for the sprinklers, this building would have probably burnt to the ground," said Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan.
A husband and wife living in a second-floor unit at the North Dartmouth apartment complex off Faunce Corner Road kept an estimated 45 gallons in nine plastic jugs, Dartmouth's District 3 Fire Chief Richard Arruda said.
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By Bob Kendall
Was George Bush's Iraq War more devastating than China's 7.0 earthquake with 87,000 killed or injured?
Was George Bush's Iraq War more devastating than Myanmar's (Burma's) cyclone that killed 140,000?
It has been estimated that some 250,000 people have been dislocated in China. The number of displaced persons in Myanmar is unknown.
The Iraq War Iraqi death estimates range between 600,000 to over 1.2 million lives lost.
The number of Iraqis having fled for their lives to Iran, Syria and Jordan is estimated at some 2.7 million.
The number of U.S. service personnel dead from the Iraq War is 4,600 and climbing with the wounded over 55,000.
The Chinese parents of the 9,000 children killed in earthquake-prone areas containing inadequate construction are demanding an investigation immediately for those responsible for this tragedy. They also want them brought to justice and punished for what they feel were unneeded deaths.
In Myanmar (Burma) the leaders who are busily building luxury dwellings for themselves have made it very difficult for relief agencies to deliver food to the nearly starved citizens of this cyclone devastated country.
The June 6 Seattle Times presented the New York Times story about Bush's rush into the Iraq War with this headline:
BUSH FAULTED ON CASE FOR IRAQ WAR
Mark Marzetti and Scott Shane wrote the following:
"A long-delayed Senate report endorsed by Democrats and some Republicans concluded that President Bush and his aides built the public case for war against Iraq by exaggerating available intelligence and by ignoring disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq's weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's links to al-Qaida."
Couldn't fairly assessing the conflicting intelligence information represent the honest approach?
Ignoring spy agency disagreements and hastily painting a false picture of Iraq represented Bush's slanted Iraq War policy.
This lengthy investigation concludes that George Bush and other officials were "guilty of the use, abuse, and faulty assessment of intelligence leading up to the Iraq War."
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Tim Wu sez,
I just took over as the chair of Free Press, a non-profit that is the largest media reform group in the U.S. -- we just finished the bi-annual conference for Media Reform.
Why should Free Press's work matter for Boing Boing readers? The fact is that while media and tech issues have sort of have been thought of separately, they are coming together. People in the media reform movement care about things like growing media consolidation, the many failures of journalism (particularly over the last 8 years) and the general trend of news being turned into entertainment. But here's the trick: as the internet takes over everything (or just about) suddenly all of these problems of media policy are only answerable in a discussion about the internet.
That's why the challenge, for me, as chair of Free Press is to try and make sure that the power of the media reform movement gets translated into the internet age. What does this mean in practice? Defending the media's role in the internet age, in my view, begins with defending the ability of bloggers and other small scale critics and journalists to be heard through an open and neutral internet.
It almost goes without saying that the media, in the U.S. or anywhere, is the first line check on abuses of public and private power. But figuring out exactly how that's going to work as the mainstream media undergoes a total industry reboot is the big question for the next decade.
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To celebrate the Drive-In's 75th birthday, we asked readers to submit their favorite drive-in photos from around the country. The now-dwindling venues have come to represent an American era of coveted cars and mesmerizing movies. Click through to see our favorite reader-submitted drive-in photos, from California to New Jersey.
Starlite Drive-In, El Monte, California
Submitted by MJ Seitz Vega
"Starlite Drive-In is just outside of Los Angeles. Taken March 2008. Nikon FM-10 with Kodak film. The Starlite has been closed for some time. The space now hosts a swap meet several days a week.
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ABC News reports on the humorous story of Gaith Pharaon, a Saudi financier who is wanted by the FBI for alleged bank fraud that cost US taxpayer $1.7 billion. The funny part is that the US military just awarded him an $80 million contract to supply jet fuel to US military bases in Afghanistan.
The US military has awarded an $80 million contract to a prominent Saudi financier who has been indicted by the US Justice Department. The contract to supply jet fuel to American bases in Afghanistan was awarded to the Attock Refinery Ltd, a Pakistani-based refinery owned by Gaith Pharaon. Pharaon is wanted in connection with his alleged role at the failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the CenTrust savings and loan scandal, which cost US tax payers $1.7 billion.
As a purely coincidental aside: "Pharaon was also an investor in President George W. Bush's first business venture, Arbusto Energy."
Spiritual wise ones say: This sure ain't no ordinary politician. You buying it?
By Mark Morford
I find I'm having this discussion, this weird little debate, more and more, with colleagues, with readers, with liberals and moderates and miserable, deeply depressed Republicans and spiritually amped persons of all shapes and stripes and I'm having it in particular with those who seem confused, angry, unsure, thoroughly nonplussed, as they all ask me the same thing: What the hell's the big deal about Obama?
I, of course, have an answer. Sort of.
Warning: If you are a rigid pragmatist/literalist, itchingly evangelical, a scowler, a doubter, a burned-out former '60s radical with no hope left, or are otherwise unable or unwilling to parse alternative New Age speak, click away right now, because you ain't gonna like this one little bit.
Ready? It goes likes this:
Barack Obama isn't really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway.
This is what I find myself offering up more and more in response to the whiners and the frowners and to those with broken or sadly dysfunctional karmic antennae - or no antennae at all - to all those who just don't understand and maybe even actively recoil against all this chatter about Obama's aura and feel and MLK/JFK-like vibe.
To them I say, all right, you want to know what it is? The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics?
No, it's not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm, didn't have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity.
Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence - to say it's just a clever marketing ploy, a slick gambit carefully orchestrated by hotshot campaign organizers who, once Obama gets into office, will suddenly turn from perky optimists to vile soul-sucking lobbyist whores, with Obama as their suddenly evil, cackling overlord.
Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.
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Courtney Love reported that the ashes of her late husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, were stolen from her Hollywood home, as well as some of her clothing and jewelry. She had kept the grunge-rocker's ashes in a bag shaped like a pink teddy bear, along with a lock of his hair. Love said: "I can't believe anyone would take Kurt's ashes from me. I find it disgusting and right now I'm suicidal." (News of the World)
What the commentators said
"Okay, I don't know what's worse: That someone actually stole Kurt Cobain's ashes or that they were stored in a pink teddy bear bag," said celebrity blog The Superficial. "Wasn't a hollowed out Rainbow Brite laying around?"
Well, let's take this with a grain of salt, said Hollywood blog dlisted. First of all, the report comes from News of the World. And second, this is Courtney Love we're talking about—"freaking out" and being suicidal are her natural state. But if this did really happen, the "obvious suspects" are: "Courtney's nose, Courtney's veins, all pink teddy bear kidnappers in the area, and Keith Richards."
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Remember January 2001? Those were the good old days before George Bush and Dick Cheney took office. At the time, gas cost just a dollar eighty-seven a gallon. And now? $3? $3.50? Even four dollars for a gallon of gas.
It's long past time for real energy independence in America and that starts by making sure oil companies pay their fair share.
Send a message to your Senator right now:
Energy prices won't go down overnight. In the coming months we're going to be barraged with gimmicks like a tax day holiday which may poll well but do nothing to deal with our real problem of over reliance on fossil fuels.
That's because oil companies have all the money they need to make their case in Washington. They think that buying politicians will allow them to continue making record profits while we pay all the costs. Don't let them tell you a windfall profits tax wont work. Remember, we've done it before and it raised billions of dollars in revenue.The oil companies and lobbyists underestimate the power of a movement of people from all walks of life. This debate isn't just about dollars and cents. It's about real people whose lives are suffering while corporations continue to rake in record profits.
Tell your Senator to Take Action:
This message is just the beginning. Let's put a human face on the sacrifices we're all making. Together, we can magnify our individual struggles and make Congress pay attention.
Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.
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