Hidden Nook

"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

China Detains Journalist

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In a statement released to reporters and published in international news reports, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it has been holding Ching since April 22 and that the journalist is now in Bejing. The statement also said that Ching has "admitted that in recent years he has been following the instructions of overseas intelligence organizations and has undertaken intelligence collecting activities."

"Intelligence collecting" seems to be a pretty vague excuse as reporters are suppose to gather news from a variety of sources, with the only difference between them and spies is the fact that the former makes such discoveries public while the latter passes it on towards their respective government. China has a history of suppressing journalists and despite becoming more "open" towards the world, old habits still seem to die hard with the "red dragon" government.

Last week, after learning privately from a mainland government official that her husband would be charged with "stealing core state secrets," [Mary] Lau decided to go public with the news of her husband's detention, according to the Washington Post. Though Lau and the Straits Times have known since April that Ching was detained, they were warned by authorities not to report the detention, and stayed silent in an effort to obtain his release through diplomatic means, the Post reported.

Lau has spoken to her husband several times since he was detained, but said that she has not yet received an official letter informing her of the government's allegations. She believes that Ching's detention was related to his investigations into Zhao, according to local and international reports.

Zhao Ziyang (who died this year in January) was a former Communist leader who opposed the Tiananmen Square massacre of demonstrators in 1989. An interview with him would have been devastating to the Communistic regime, since his dissenting views would have only encouraged more protests against China and would not help their situation (as they already have more than enough protests to deal with already).

China will probably continue to detain journalists up to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (in which they will conviently release them as the Olympics will be in the media spot light and not prisoner abuse). Until then state media as well as "free" media will continue to report things from one angle (i.e. China's) and it will be up to the bloggers to report what is really happening over there.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:19 PM • Email Post • •


Friday, May 27, 2005

Spacecraft Has Crossed Final Frontier

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(Earth Times) The Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached the so-called final frontier of the solar system, according to NASA's website. Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said, "Voyager 1 has entered the final lap on its race to the edge of interstellar space. This is an historic step in Voyager's race. We have a totally new region of space to explore, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Although this is an incredible feat (as it this is the only Earth craft at the edge of our "sun's domain") NASA may potentially shut down this $4.2 million project in order to help send men back to the moon and hopefully towards Mars. Although NASA is strained for funds as it races to beat out the private sector (such as Space Adventures) it would be wise to keep a project like this afloat since Voyager practically would be our "first contact" with anything out there since it is so far away (assuming their actually is life out there).

Stamatios M. Krimigis, another Voyager scientist said that they expect the craft to remain in the heliosheath for another 10 years before its plutonium power source is drained out in 2020...

Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have outlasted their initial mission life of five years. Voyager 2 has finished observing Uranus and Neptune and is currently 6.5 billion miles from the sun, heading in the opposite direction of Voyager 1.

Once these craft are able to get within the interstellar region of space it will be able to send back data of what it is like beyond the sun's domain and aid in any future interstellar travel towards other worlds. Currently as of this post their are 146 extra solar planets discovered orbiting 127 stars with the figure increasing every year. If humanity has not destroyed itself via atomic weapons or biological hazards, we may eventually reach some of these worlds, taking our first steps into the final frontier.

By Darnell Clayton • 1:38 AM • Email Post • •


The Evolving Israeli Falafel

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"I actually call it a tuna beignet," [Ido Shapira] said, before launching into an explanation of how he mixes fresh fish with a variety of spices and shapes it into small balls. After deep-frying them in a coat of breadcrumbs, he nestles each one in a martini glass, where it floats in a pool of mango salsa.

"But," he added helpfully, "I do make a dessert I call 'chocolate falafel,' which is a chocolate truffle deep-fried in a coat of breadcrumbs and nuts. People love it. After all, falafel is still one of the most popular foods in Israel."

Ido Shapira, a chef at one of Israel's finest catering companies, Katlit, reflects the "falafel attitude" amongst Israeli's by serving up new dishes of the middle east treat. Falafel's are perhaps one of the major "food groups" in Israel (or at least should be) and a traveler can not begin to understand the Israeli culture without trying out this dish.

A little over a decade ago, Shani's shrimp falafel, which vied for attention with his crabmeat kebab, was the first Trojan horse to infiltrate the domain of traditional falafel. Shortly after, Orna Agmon and Ella Shine, the owners of the upscale and consistently popular Orna and Ella cafe on Tel Aviv's Rehov Sheinkin, began thinking about opening their own falafel place. For three years, they researched both this dish's origins and the series of grassroots transformations it had undergone in the hands of Israeli falafel stand owners.

"We were constantly thinking about how to innovate while preserving the essence of falafel-ness," Shine explains. "We wanted to maintain a certain kind of integrity, not to mix everything with everything. There were certain boundaries we felt we wouldn't cross...The generation that followed us already did much crazier things."

Although this may seem like a "useless post" about a favorite food throughout the Holy Land, unless someone has personally visited Israel then an outsider will never understand the importance of Falafel's in the Israeli culture. If a blogger is interested in trying out this dish, simply follow these instructions and soon one will realize that they are truly missing out in the Holy Land. Here is a picture of a falafel if one is curious as to what the final treat looks like. Shalom!

By Darnell Clayton • 12:54 AM • Email Post • •


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Blogger Delights

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After a long delay (via life and all) Blogger Delights has returned! Today's featured nation (which ironically was yesterday's but will be posted today in order to "catch up") is China, the land of a billion plus people! Unless you have several years (and some cash to spend) a visitor will not be able to learn all there is about this great nation as it's landscape varies just as much (if not more) than the United States. Perhaps some bloggers can inform us about this expansive "sub continent."

Garvin is posting about a Gregorian Calendar hack (is this for blogger?) while Blue Sky (via the Universal Translator) seems to blog about how Microsoft dominates all (although he mentions nothing about Google and friends striking back). We will wait until he updates his blog to understand his reasoning behind that.

Our Chinese bloggers seem silent, as many of them (like Ice Butterfly) have stopped blogging last year. Fortunately Whistle has kept the momentum and sings his latest praises towards IBM posts a thank you letter from IBM (although Mac is better to bad he wasn't hired by Mac).

Blogger Birthdays

Rachel from Singapore turns 16 today and blogs about everything from her friends bringing her presents to her love of Star Wars and the Jedi. Although the Sith's are pretty cool, and if she doesn't agree then she hasn't read Darth Vader's blog about life and chasing down Luke Skywalker (Warning: Blog is totally hilarious).

Aline from Austalia turns 19 today and it seems her friends wish her a happy birthday as well. Although she seems pretty upset about the comment spam appearing on her blog site. Perhaps she needs to install Type Key on her blog.

Mr. Cavalier turns another "big one" today, and seems to have passed his exams and is now preparing for some "Law Review" competition (good luck Mr. Cavalier and drink lots of Water Joe if coffee is not available).

Jason from America turns 28 today and has a beautiful pictures of his daughter and cousin on his blog site. Jason is a youth minister and also blogs at the Youth Ministry Forum as well at Brian's site "This Road We Travel." Unfortunately only the latter is listed on Blogs 4 God and it would helpful to see the former two listed as well. (note: if you need a "button" on the side of your blog, feel free to use this one and upload it onto a photo hosting server of your choice)

Kornflake from Canada turns 25 today and her blog journal seems to be "too true and too rude," although it reflects how she feels about life. This blogger recommends she try Audio Blogger and see if it helps express her thoughts more clearly. (note: it's free courtesy of Blogger)

Joydeep from India turns 24 and seems to have several blogs out there ranging from an Alumni blog to a more personal journal (note: noticed some "displaying errors" on the post template pages). He does have an interesting post about how 32 million people walked miles in order to take a dip into a river, and he has the picture to prove it!

Elvera from Indonesia is a year older and has an interesting post about a street seller claiming that cobra blood can make men stronger. Although she would rather starve than drink that stuff, (as any reasonable blogger would) this blogger (who happens to hate coffee) would rather drink Water Joe than cobra blood (regardless of the benefits). Selah?

Blogger Delights brings highlights from various nations as well as celebrating birthdays throughout the blogosphere. If one is interested in visiting some of these blogs, simply click here.

Update: Made a correction above with the IBM post (perhaps I should have used an eraser instead...*smiles*)

By Darnell Clayton • 10:57 PM • Email Post • •


Nuclear Powered Cell Phone Battery?

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(Hat Tip: Engadget)

Cellphones powered by nuclear power could be not too many years away following developments by scientists at the University of Rochester. The details of the technology which uses radioactive gasses, already licensed to BetaBatt, appears in this month's issue of Advanced Materials.

Betavoltaics, the method that the new battery uses, has been around for half a century, but its usefulness was limited due to its low energy yields. Similar to the way solar panels work by catching photons from the sun and turning them into current, the science of betavoltaics uses silicon to capture electrons emitted from a radioactive gas, such as tritium, to form a current.

Hopefully these new "radio active" cell phones will not produce those nasty bumps behind the ears or something much worse. It might be recommended that for anyone purchasing a future model of a "nuclear cell phone" that they purchase a head set to go with it (along with a radiation suit).

By Darnell Clayton • 10:40 PM • Email Post • •


U.S. Supreme Court Revisiting Abortion

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The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to reenter the politically charged debate over abortion rights, agreeing to review a New Hampshire case that could determine whether Florida's recently approved abortion restrictions will withstand a constitutional challenge.

At issue is a New Hampshire law requiring that parents be notified when their underage daughters seek an abortion. A federal appeals court struck down the law last year as unconstitutional because it failed to provide an exception for the health of the mother.

Currently 44 states (including Florida) have either parental notification or parental consent laws which were voted in by either legislative powers or by the will of the people. Currently the judicial branch seems determined to supplant the will of the people with an aristocracy of "robed masters."

Not too surprisingly our "fellow friends of freedom," the ACLU are all over this case, defending the aiding the judges in order to expand abortion rights throughout the nation via federal decree.
Abortion providers in Florida said Monday they are working with the ACLU to determine whether to file a lawsuit challenging the parental consent law and the Legislature's recent adoption of tighter regulations of abortion clinics.

The new laws could make it more difficult for young women to get access to abortions, said Larry Spalding, attorney and legislative counsel for the ACLU of Florida.

Although it might seem strange that a parent should be denied the right to know that a medical procedure is being conducted on their child, the ACLU (and the other liberal elites) see nothing wrong with that picture. If parental rights are eroded under abortion (as in they have no say whatsoever) then what rights do parents actually have? Are not parents responsible for their child's health as well as for their development?

Update: It seems according to Blogs for Bush that abortions are actually decreasing across the country. Could this be the reason why the pro-abortionists want this bill taken away?

By Darnell Clayton • 10:06 PM • Email Post • •


Iraqi Soldiers On The Offense

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(Hat Tip: Iraq The Model)

The Iraqi government is to deploy 40,000 troops around Baghdad to stop the daily insurgent attacks on the capital that have claimed dozens of lives in the past month...

The Iraqi force will be backed by 10,000 US troops and the operation is due to be extended to other cities once results from the pilot scheme have been analysed, said the Iraqi defence ministry.

This information comes out as rumors seem to be spreading that al-Zarqawi may have been wounded and that there seems to be a power struggle for succession to his "throne." As the search for Zarqawi (and Bin Laden) continue, it looks like the newly formed Iraqi government is for the first time going on the offensive instead of idle sitting by taking abuse from the terrorists via car bombs.

"These operations will aim to turn the government's role from defensive to offensive," Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabor said at a news conference announcing the operation...

"We shall not leave any place for terrorists or those who shelter them and incite terrorism in Iraq," [Defense Minister Sadoun al-]Dulaimi said. "We will stand against all those who try to shed Iraqi blood ... We will implement the law with everything we've got."

The Iraqi's plan on forming a blockade around Baghdad, and dividing the city into sections having each unit responsible for a separate section. With more good news coming out of Iraq it won't be long until this newly formed republic becomes a thriving nation in a region long known for terror.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:43 PM • Email Post • •


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

VoIP Including 911

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 4-0 to force the full featured "Enhanced 911" to Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services...

Under the new FCC ruling, VoIP providers now must give customers a way to update their location each time they use the service away from home so that the emergency numbers can track the call and respond accordingly and hopefully be more efficient in saving lives.

This is great news to hear, especially when one has Skype for a phone service (something this blogger recommends). Many people use VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) as it is not only cheaper (Skype is about two cents per minute and purchasing a phone line is very inexpensive) but is also in step with the upcoming computer generation.

It looks like Congress is also trying to help out as well.
The Congress though has come up with the final answer to the problem of providing the citizen with at least these basic services in the form of a pair of bills introduced in the House and Senate that requires the Internet phone firms to provide 911 services and also instructs the Bells to provide the connections on a "non-discriminatory" basis. The Congress may also threaten the FCC with the fact that if they do not use these two bills as a model, it could be turned into a law.

The latter may have to happen as many of these "regular" phone companies have a lot to lose to these VoIP businesses (unless they go VoIP themselves). Hopefully Skype will incorporate this feature inside as it would make it easier for this blogger to leave it's current phone service and switch entirely towards the computer.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:40 PM • Email Post • •


A Palestinian State?

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"As we have stated several times in the past, we want from the United States a clear political position for the implementation of the road map, as well as economic support," the Palestinian Authority president said.

"We hope to get this."

If President Abbas really desires for Palestine to be recognized as a state, (according to the road map at least) then he will first have to remove the terrorists elements within the West Bank. If Israel can do it's fair share of removing their own citizens from their own homes as part of the "peace process," Abbas certainly can remove terrorists organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the newly formed Jundallah terrorist group (who may be suspected as having links to Al Qaeda).

But it seems there might be more trouble in Palestine.
GAZA (Reuters) - Egypt has stepped in to defuse a growing crisis over disputed Palestinian election results that threatens to inflame strife between President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party and Islamic Hamas militants.

Talks between Hamas and mediators led by a senior Egyptian intelligence official in a Gaza seaside hotel ended without a major breakthrough on Wednesday, but Hamas agreed to set up face-to-face talks with Fatah on Thursday.

If Hamas wins the elections (which is a strong possibility because of their social services) then the peace process will become effectively "moot" as Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization seeking the death of it's own citizens. If Abbas can not deliver his promise to end terrorist activity in the West Bank whether through democratic persuasion or by force then their is no reason for the United States to support such a notion. If Abbas can not deliver then perhaps the Palestinian people can elect someone who can (if they desire to end terrorism that is).

By Darnell Clayton • 11:09 PM • Email Post • •


Some Wictory Wednesday

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(Hat Tip: Right On America)

After returning back to the blogosphere (life can get in the way sometimes) it seems that the world has turned upside down.

Seven Senate Republicans bolted from their leaders last night and dropped their support for the "nuclear option" in exchange for seven Democrats' abandoning filibusters against three of President Bush's judicial nominees...

The seven Republican signers were Sens. Mike DeWine of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, John McCain of Arizona, John W. Warner of Virginia and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.

Unfortunately it seems that Lindsey Graham joined the Judas Republican ranks being seduced by the dark side. And it looks like some of the GOP leaning bloggers are not happy with what has transpired.

Michelle Malkin has a nice picture that reflects today's GOP and this blogger may finally endorse the "Not. One. Dime." campaign led by CQ. Even Hugh Hewitt (the blog historian) even seems pretty upset about this deal.
It is impossible to say whether this is a "terrible" deal, a "bad" deal, or a very, very marginally "ok" deal, but it surely is not a good deal. Not one dime more for the NRSC from me unless and until the Supreme Court nominee gets confirmed, and no other filibusters develop. I won't spend money on a caucus supporting organization when the caucus can't deliver a majority. Mark Kennedy and other Senate candidates with spines, but not for the NRSC.

The current attitude is that this "setback" is really a spit in the eye towards all the GOP Bloggers out there. After all many people (including bloggers) spent time, money and effort to get judges who would not legislate from the bench as if America was an Aristocracy of some sort, but would interpret the law "as it is read" in the constitution. And it seems there are some bloggers who are not happy with what has just transpired.
And on behalf of the entire GOP, I'm having a hard time seeing an upside to this deal right now. At first - and second, and tenth - glance, it looks like you've sold out your party.

No, not just the party; not just the assembly of suits and climbers and hangers-on that no doubt surrounds you at work every day. No, I'm talking about all of us who busted our a**es overcoming a full-court media press (and continue to do so), and gave of our time and money until it hurt - hurt our wallets, our families, our relationships, our equilibrium. We gave them all with enthusiasm because we knew what was at stake; a whole generation of Supreme Court decisions.

So we gave. And you took.

And today, you looked us all in the face, and spat.

Ironically this blogger became a republican because President Bush came into office. This blogger might leave just as quickly when 2008 comes around.

By Darnell Clayton • 2:48 PM • Email Post • •


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blogger Delights

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Today's Blogger Delights features the nation of Iceland which is quickly becoming Europe's hottest destinations. Iceland is home to approximately 280,000 citizens and boasts some very unique landscapes ranging from glaciers to volcano's, as well as plenty of hot springs to make a traveler feel welcome. Although expensive, Iceland is the "place to be" if one is traveling to Europe.

Jon Ragnarsson has an awesome photoblog displaying beautiful photos of Iceland landscape as well as an interesting gallary that every blogger must see. (note: and you can comment on the photo's too!)

Unfortunately the Universal Translator can not decipher what Bynni is saying on his blog (even the backup failed as well) so a "blog note" will be mentioned and we shall move on. BO is a proud member of several team blogs and despite the language barrier BO has some interesting pictures of rock climbing as well as what appears to be a volcano project.

Kristín's blog also can not be deciphered, but Gumma has simple, picture perfect blog layout and her current post (as of this blogger delights post) links to a song hosted by Rob Works titled "Doors-The End." (note: listen at your own discretion)

Blogger Birthdays

Cheng from Singapore turns 21 and seems to have encountered a salesman who didn't know what he was talking about. Fortunately Google answered his question for him, and if the salesman fails to answer his question again he may be able to purchase the item on Froogle.

Colin turns a mysterious age but does have an interesting photoblog/journal about his life, not to mention his manga blog which is just as interesting (if you are into manga). Although no pictures are provided, if Colin has some talent then perhaps he should enter the National Novel Writing Month (in November) and show off his talents to the world (last year's participants can be seen here).

Amy Anne also turns a mysterious age and doesn't seem to blog much at her site (or her other team blogs) but she'll be an honorable mention (and Happy Birthday!).

Olinka turns 32 and after a long "vacation" has come back to the blogosphere, although she misses her family because of college (this blogger understands).

Laura turns another big one and it looks like she is going on a cruise! She also has an interesting post about materialistic Christians and expresses her thoughts about the subject. Perhaps she should read Road to Reality as this blogger found it to be a personal favorite!

Jay from Canada turns 23 and seems to be entering into his dream career (although he refuses to discuss it with the blogosphere). What could be a better career than blogging?

Blogger Delights brings highlights from various nations as well as celebrating birthdays throughout the blogosphere. If one is interested in visiting some of these blogs, simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:16 PM • Email Post • •


U.S. Unveiling Sex Offender Website

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The site won't provide any information not already made available on the Internet by 49 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. But it will be designed to allow someone to do a national search online to determine whether an individual who has been convicted in one state has moved to another.

"With this technology, every citizen and law enforcement officer will be able to search the latest information for the identity and location of known sex offenders," Gonzales said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Some privacy advocates are wary that this system will harm sex offenders who have already served their sentence, although the argument seems pretty weak on grounds that such a system could have prevented the sexual assault and murder of Jessica Lunsford. Since Jessica's case revealed that some sex offenders were prone to change location towards another state or region, such a site would help local authorities coordinate the where abouts of these people in order to help prevent more deaths like Jessica's.

[Sen. Byron] Dorgan introduced legislation to create a national database after authorities arrested a sex offender from Minnesota for the murder of a woman just across the state line in North Dakota. The man would not have been identified on North Dakota's registry, Dorgan said.

Although this website is two months away from being unveiled, it is already proving effective as local authorities are using neighboring state registries in order to catch these villains within their region. States are not required to list their registries with the federal government, but any politician who seeks re-election would find it in their best interests to have such a site listed. Hopefully this site will reduce the number of slayings in this category, especially among children and make America's streets a little safer for the little ones.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:40 PM • Email Post • •


Al-Qaeda In Palestine?

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(Cross Posted on Blogger News)

(Scotsman.com) AL-QAEDA has established a foothold in Palestine with a new militant group based in Gaza formed by extremists who have become disillusioned with Hamas and Islamic Jihad...

Amid the biggest flare-up of violence in Gaza since a ceasefire was declared three months ago by Palestinians and Israelis, the Jerusalem Post has quoted unnamed Palestinian Authority security officials as saying that a new group called Jundallah or 'Allah's Brigade' had links to the terrorist organisation headed by Osama bin Laden.

This new terrorists group, Jundallah, has already launched attacks Israeli soldiers wounding four, and plans to launch more attacks not only against Israeli's but US interests in the region as well. Abu Abdullah al-Khattab, a spokesman for the new terrorists organization has denied any connections with Osama Bin Laden, but if proven otherwise this would pose a serious problem for Abbas as he already is having trouble stopping terrorist activities within Palestine.

"While this information about Jundallah has yet to be confirmed, there's no doubt that al-Qaeda has tried and continues to try and recruit members of other organisations such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad," said Dr Ely Karmon, a senior researcher in international terrorism at Israel's International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

"It is a great concern for Israel if al-Qaeda does get a foothold in the Palestinian territories since with al-Qaeda, all bets are off. Unlike Hamas and other local groups who face direct consequences once they carry out a terrorist operation, al-Qaeda are ready to sacrifice many Muslims to further their cause."

If Jundallah is found to have connections with Al-Qaeda, then Abbas will either be forced to take serious action against the terrorists or have action taken against them by Israeli forces with possible repercussions from the United States. Despite being elected by the Palestinian people, Abbas has proven himself unable or unwilling to face the armed militants, creating fertile ground for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to not only grow but also thrive from the Palestinian Authorities incompetence.

Jundallah's very existence is major threat to the current "cease fire" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as well as the many varied terrorists groups throughout the region. If Abbas is unable to fight or at least curb Palestinian terrorism, whether from factions or Jundallah, then it is not a question of if but when Bin Laden's network establishes itself in the heart of the middle-east conflict. Such a presence would torpedo what is left of the current "cease fire," and may potentially end any future ones as well.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:36 PM • Email Post • •


Friday, May 20, 2005

Scientists Against Weaponizing Space

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- A scientists' group on Thursday warned the United States against weaponizing space, saying the move would be prohibitively expensive and could set off a new arms race.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group that opposes weapons in space, said the United Nations should consider drafting a treaty that would prohibit interfering with unarmed satellites, taking away any justification for putting weapons in space to protect them.

Although their intentions are "noble," as these scientists are trying to deter an arms race in space (whether to strike targets above or below) such a suggestion is foolish in a post 9/11 world. Although storing nuclear weapons in space would violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (which prohibits weapons of mass destruction being stationed in outer space), having satellite's deployed with "anti-missile" rockets (what else would you call it?) providing a "shield" would probably be reasonable.

Fortunately for the scientists, this technology is currently too expensive for the government to pursue.
Any complete weapons system in space would be very expensive, running into the many billions of dollars. Developing a shield to defend against a single missile attack would require deploying 1,000 space-based interceptors and cost anywhere between $20 billion and $100 billion, said David Wright, a union scientists and co-author of a recent report on the feasibility of space weapons...

Wright argued that space-based ground attack systems were not yet practical either. One, dubbed "Rods from God'' -- which would fire rods of tungsten from space -- would cost 50-100 times as much as a similar attack from the ground.

Although developing a program is currently not feasable due to cost, that may change in the future if the Pentagon along with NASA team up and subcontract the work towards the private sector. America's priority is it's security (just like any sovereign nation) and if push comes to shove should not hesitate to "weaponize space."

By Darnell Clayton • 6:48 PM • Email Post • •


Site Of The Day

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Today's site of the day features the Fantastic Four which opens July 8 in theatres everywhere. The site seems to be "revamped" since last time (a major improvement) and can be viewed in 10 different languages ranging from Korean to French. For those readers unfamiliar with the Fantastic Four, do a Google search (or click here) and it will give a "bio" about the characters.

Site of the day shows some of the best the web has to offer and if one is interested in visiting more of these sites simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 6:38 PM • Email Post • •


Blogger Delights

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Today's featured country is the nation of Tokelau which ironically has no capital city, no cars, low (if any) tourism, and no banks. Tokelau does have plenty of islands though (127 of them) as well as a free subdomain hosting service, Dot.tk (which is similar to Nauru's free subdomain which this blogger has).

The people of Tokelau live a simple life free from the cares of the modern world. The "many island nation" is hard to reach except by boat. But fortunately us the bloggers aren't!

Josh the Greater is thinking about becoming the next pope in 2008 while Diyosa has some very nice photos of what appears to be "island adventures."

Nuttster seems to be begging for a new PSP and it seems that Sparkling Jane is a "book worm" and describes how they draw her into new universes. Marcelo is apart of two group blogs but none of his posts can be found (how sad). Marcelo, where are you? Come back!

Blogger Birthdays

Nina from Singapore turns 19 today (her last year as a teenager) and has the most fashionable layouts for a blog to date (it looks like she thought outside the box as far as design goes).

Isuzu from Australia turns 20 and her blog has an audio clip to it adding to the atmosphere when a guest visits (don't forget to say happy birthday). Unfortunately if you are a Firefox user her site isn't too "friendly" so a visitor better stick with Internet Explorer.

Me (how original) turns 22 and displays a love for puppies and Skeeball. What is Skeeball anyway?

Blogger Delights brings highlights from various nations as well as celebrating birthdays throughout the blogosphere. If one is interested in visiting some of these blogs, simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 5:06 PM • Email Post • •


Antarctica Getting Thicker?

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(Hat Tip: The Black Kettle)

A satellite survey shows that between 1992 and 2003, the East Antarctic ice sheet gained about 45 billion tonnes of ice - enough to reduce the oceans' rise by 0.12 millimetres per year. The ice sheets that cover Antarctica's bedrock are several kilometres thick in places, and contain about 90% of the world's ice.

So much for the theory of "Global Warming."

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Harlon Watson, US' Chief Climate Negotiator said: "We are still not convinced of the need to move forward quite so quickly."

He said that an emissions reductions agreement would harm the US economy, and went on to cast doubt over the science behind global warming and climate change itself. "There is general agreement that there is a lot known, but there is also a lot to be known," he said.

Global Warming is perhaps one of the most "unique" debates out there because many scientists claim that mankind is responsible for the increasing temperature on planet earth while just as many (it seems) claim that people are not to blame for it getting hotter around the world. Either way, it is a pointless argument as there is not enough information to decide one way or the other.

By Darnell Clayton • 4:35 PM • Email Post • •


U.S. Might Withhold U.N. Dues

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(Hat Tip: UN Dispatch)

On Thursday, Illinois Republican Henry Hyde's House International Relations Committee distributed an early version of the "United Nations Reform Act of 2005." It seeks to cut funding for programs seen as useless and bar human rights violators from serving on U.N. human rights bodies...

One of its most controversial proposals is linking dues to the changes it spells out. The document stipulates that if those reforms are not carried out, Congress will withhold 50 percent of U.S. dues to the U.N. general budget, taking the money from programs it deems inefficient and wasteful.

The United Nations is of coarse not exactly "happy" that funds might be withheld because of the difference in opinion regarding certain programs. But when an organization is responsible for losing billions of dollars, not to mention the "sex-for-food" scandal it pretty much forfeits the right to be trusted to govern itself financially.

"The secretary-general's position on the use of withholding as a tool for reform is pretty clear," Dujarric said. "He feels it's counterproductive, particularly at a time when reform is such a primary agenda item. I think the best way for member states to undertake reform is to engage in discussion among themselves."

The Secretary General, having presided over the worst scandals (notice the "s" at the end) in U.N. history should not only offer his resignation to the world but allow for a fair and transparent examination of what really went on in the Oil-for-food program, something currently being hindered by U.N. fear and judicial decree. If the United Nations is serious about reform then it is time for the institution to "clean house" starting with the current leadership.

The United Nations, although doing some good around the world is being hampered by it's current leaders incompetence. It is quickly becoming irrelevant in the eyes of many Americans and if not corrected could lead to a repeat of the League of Nations.

By Darnell Clayton • 4:06 PM • Email Post • •


Yesterday's Site Of The Day

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Due to thunderstorm activity lately this blogger has been unable to keep up with the "updates" of world events and fun sites to see. But alas, the many major thunderstorms have to end and since today is a free day, here is Yesterday's site of the day!

Basically this is takes after the Flickr tag feature and allows users to search the many images of the Flickr database (whether it be Bush, Israel, etc.). Enjoy and take a look around!

By Darnell Clayton • 11:42 AM • Email Post • •


Thursday, May 19, 2005

$250,000 NASA Challenge

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NASA has promised a cool $250,000 for the first team capable of pulling breathable oxygen from mock moon dirt, the latest award in the space agency's Centennial Challenges program...

"Oxygen extraction technologies will be critical for both robotic and human missions to the moon," said Sam Durrance, executive director for FSRI. "Like other space-focused prize competitions, the MoonROx challenge will encourage a broad community of innovators to develop technologies that expand our capabilities."

This may not seem like much of a "challenge" if it were not for the fact that contestants have to pull 11 pounds of oxygen from a volcanic lunar ash-derived substance called JSC-1. As if to make matters worse not only do they have to "deliver the goods" but do this under 8 hours.

It looks like instead of using government scientists to design, test, and build everything for them, NASA is adopting a strategy used by the Pentagon and "hiring" minds to do the labor on their behalf.
The 2005 Beam Power Challenge will award $50,000 to the first team that can use wireless technology to lift a weight off the ground. Such technology could eventually be employed to beam payloads off Earth.

Meanwhile, the 2005 Tether Challenge calls for teams to build the strongest tether of a specific diameter. The tethers will each be stretched to the breaking point, with winners advancing through the ranks toward a final showdown with NASA's "house tether," made of existing material. Beat the "house tether" and you snag $50,000.

NASA is setting aside $80 million for these Centennial Challenge prizes for the next five years in order to encourage the private industry to get more involved with the space industry. Doing so will not only help the private sector out (who are "lunar" focused) but NASA as well as it will draw interest towards their Martian objectives, eventually increasing their budget and benefiting all of mankind.

By Darnell Clayton • 4:59 PM • Email Post • •


Israeli Aircraft Strikes Hamas Militants

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- An Israeli aircraft Wednesday fired at a group of Hamas militants who were about to shoot mortar shells at a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, the army and witnesses said. The new violence threatened a fragile cease-fire declared in February.

The airstrike came minutes after militants fired four mortar shells at the Gush Katif settlement bloc. The army said it spotted two Palestinians preparing to fire more mortars when it attacked.

Apparently one Hamas member was injured during his "holy mission" and after the airstrike militants continued to fire at least a dozen motor shells. Apparently the "cease-fire" seems to be more real on paper than in reality, and at this rate the so called "road map" is quickly heading towards disaster.

Despite the recent attacks, there has been some good news on the Israeli front.
There has been a sharp drop in fighting since the truce was declared by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, although there have been sporadic flare-ups in violence. Israel has repeatedly said it reserves the right to respond to attacks that Palestinian security forces fail to prevent.

"What do you expect us to do if they are attacking us?" said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Sharon.

If Abbas is unable to curb the militants from striking Israel than the current cease fire is a farce. Leaders are ultimately responsible for their people (especially when they are elected) and if they are unable to quell the violence against their neighbor whether it be by petition or force, the government loses it's power to enforce it's own laws. Israel (and the United States) should hold Abbas accountable towards keeping the terrorist's in line and if the PA are in need of weapons to enforce the rules, then they should either ask Russia or America for assistance. If Abbas is unable to deliver on his end of the deal, then peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict is probably not possible.

By Darnell Clayton • 4:25 PM • Email Post • •


Secretary Rice Taking Charge

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(Hat Tip: Blogs for Bush)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice does not use e-mail. She is no fan of long memos and papers. She is focused on "a few key priorities," aides say, and her inner circle's motto is "no wasted motion."

For nearly four months, the State Department has been adapting to Miss Rice's management style, but many employees still are grappling with the new rules.

This differs dramatically from how Colin Powell led the department, as he was more of a Father figure who seemed interested in the smallest details of the State Department and was only an email away from contact (usually within minutes). Condi Rice on the other hand, seems to be more focused on having the "trains run on time," and seems to value on what she spends her energy on as well as making sure her boss's (i.e. President Bush) objectives are met.

"History shows that the best secretaries of state focus on a few key priorities," said Jim Wilkinson, a senior adviser to Miss Rice. "The president has given his foreign policy team its mission, and the secretary is focusing the department on achieving these priorities."

Condi Rice already has a lot on her plate right now, including difusing the Newsweek scandal that has threatened U.S. relations with the Muslim world. Although some of her staff are upset that they are no longer on the "inside" as they were will Powell, they are forgetting that Condi's place is to serve the President and his agenda's, hence the whole reason for the department being formed in the first place.

By Darnell Clayton • 3:26 PM • Email Post • •


More Euro Woes

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(Hat Tip: Alpha Patriot)

(Business Telegraph) The euro has begun a long-term slide and could drop below a dollar within 18 months, according to a client note issued yesterday by Morgan Stanley...

"Markets will have to come to grips with the insight that the single currency will not eventually be backed by a single government. This is why the euro will have to trade at a discount to the dollar and why it is unlikely ever to replace the greenback as the world's reserve currency," [economist Joachim Fels] said.

Ironically it seems that the continent has sacrificed wealth in order to gain unity. The euro's strength was in the fact that the currency could be used across the continent in multiple countries. Although this might be viewed upon as a shared blessing, the fact that no single nation backs the euro directly (unless they "all" do) places many of it's members in financial jeopardy.

Meanwhile in France, a nation whose leaders are known for promoting the euro as the "next best thing since sliced bread," are attempting to convince their own doubting citizens that the EU constitution would be beneficial to the nation.
THREE new opinion polls show "No" campaigners have edged into the lead ahead of France's upcoming referendum on the European Union constitution, despite encouragement from the country's main political parties to back the treaty, on 29 May...

The "No" camp is an influential grassroots movement without a dominant figurehead. Both extremes of the political spectrum, from the Communists to the far-right party of the National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, are backing a "No" vote, along with the Socialist party number two, and ex-prime minister, Laurent Fabius.

With about 59% of the population leaning against the constitution for fear it is too "Anglo-Saxon." Europe may be in for a financial disaster as their continental currency depreciates and the process for ratifying the constitution evaporates.

By Darnell Clayton • 3:06 PM • Email Post • •


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Site Of The Day

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Today's featured site is brought to you by the Organic Trade Association, which features this mini-flicks debut. A recommended site to see for clean fun humor.

About the Organic Trade Association:
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America. OTA’s mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade...

OTA continues to take the lead in protecting organic standards so that consumers can have confidence in certified organic products. OTA serves as the industry watchdog of government agencies, takes positions on legislation that impacts organic and represents the industry to regulators, elected-officials and international bodies. With input from its diverse membership, OTA continues to develop and refine organic standards for emerging product areas.

Whether you enjoy high priced, better tasting organic food or the lower cost, better looking regular food, this film will make anyone laugh. It is there fore the Site of the Day.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:46 AM • Email Post • •


Asteroid Zipping Past Earth

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(Universe Today) But maybe it's not so bad. Consider this: On April 13th--Friday the 13th--2029, millions of people are going to go outside, look up and marvel at their good luck. A point of light will be gliding across the sky, faster than many satellites, brighter than most stars.

What's so lucky about that? It's asteroid 2004 MN4 ... not hitting Earth.

This was the asteroid that was given a 1/60 of collision with Earth, causing a hole the size of Texas and if hitting the ocean, devastating Tsunami's throughout the region. Fortunately this asteroid will miss Earth by 18,600 miles--which for astronomical terms is "very close."

On April 13, 2029, asteroid 2004 MN4 will fly past Earth only 18,600 miles (30,000 km) above the ground. For comparison, geosynchronous satellites orbit at 22,300 miles (36,000 km). "At closest approach, the asteroid will shine like a 3rd magnitude star, visible to the unaided eye from Africa, Europe and Asia--even through city lights," says Jon Giorgini of JPL. This is rare. "Close approaches by objects as large as 2004 MN4 are currently thought to occur at 1000-year intervals, on average."

Many scientists are already planning on scanning it's surface via radar in 2013 in order to project it's future orbit for well over the next 50 years. Although some doomsday theories from some newspapers have surfaced claiming the satellite will "swing around" and hit Earth in 2035, many scientists have disproved this thought. One thing is certain--in 2029 many viewers on Earth are going to get a spectacular view of an object shooting across the sky.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:27 AM • Email Post • •


Blogger Delights

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Today's featured nation is the nation of Seychelles which is composed of 115 islands! Seychelles is probably the spot to visit as far as vacations go, as it is home to some dazzling beaches. It has a small capital, Victoria, which according to Lonely Planet is the only "town" (modern that is) in the nation with the streets in the centre of Victoria having been rebuilt only 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, many of the Seychelles nationals do not seem to be into "blogging" per say. Of the ones scouted on Blogger Delights, only a few were still active. But the few that were active seemed to at least enjoying life within their nation. Gaëlla is excited and she seems to enjoy that summer is here! She also likes to jog which is something this blogger needs to do more often.

Tiada Jawapan has a lovely blog skin (courtesy of Blogger Templates) and despite the language barriers it looks like she is also enjoying life to the fullest.

By far the most interesting is Dee Dee who has grasped "the art of blogging" as she maintains several blogs, ranging with posts on how to kill a man to updates about growing up (the best is yet to come). She also maintains another blog, which hosts several "blog essays" and a unique sub title at the top.

Blogger Birthdays

Michelle turns 24 and wonders if anybody reads her blog anymore.

Lima from Brazil turns 32 and despite blog being in Portuguese, the Universal Translator has proven it's worth again, an we have discovered that Lima is a proud mother of a baby boy. Congratulations! (note: where are the pictures via Hello?)

Freak Queen from Malaysia turns 22 and seems to have a rather blunt view of men. Hmm...reminds this blogger of his former life before he adopted these teachings.

Joenne from Singapore turns 14 and has a unique blog site, at least code wise (you'll have to see it for yourself to understand).

Sarah turns 17 and it seems like she may be taking her first steps into photo blogging. Should be interesting to see when the pictures develop. :)

Vancouvernotes turns 52 and seems to have (according to this blogger) recently emigrated to Canada. Hopefully their government doesn't collapse with all of the chaos unfolding.

Expression turns 21 and contributes a post to his hero who recently has passed away.

Mateus from Brazil (that makes two) turns 22 and through the Universal Translator it seems he has given up on blogging (he will be missed).

Blogger Delights brings highlights from various nations as well as celebrating birthdays throughout the blogosphere. If one is interested in visiting some of these blogs, simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:18 AM • Email Post • •


Expanding The Security Council

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UNITED NATIONS - (KRT) - Japan, Brazil, Germany and India - known as the Group of Four nations - who are seeking permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, presented a draft resolution Monday calling for the council's expansion.

The draft, unveiled at a meeting of representatives from about 70 countries, calls for the creation of an additional six permanent and four nonpermanent seats.

Although this is a welcome move to present more diversity within the United Nations, adding more members to the Security Council may not make it more efficient. As the last Iraqi war has proven, the Security Council is so political in nature it has become unable to respond and define such simple concepts as genocide, something Darfur is recently proving.

Although Japan seems nervous about demanding "full rights," India is requesting that veto powers be granted along with permanent status.
The sources said Japan and India had argued fiercely over the wording of the document as India insisted the new permanent members "shall have" the same veto rights as the so-called big five, while Japan supported a compromise under which new members "should have" veto rights.

These four nations are aiming to have the resolution adopted by early June with voting by the General Assembly in early July. Two-thirds (or 128 votes) are needed for this change to be approved, and these nations might face resistance from China and possibly Pakistan, nations who have had past diplomatic disputes with Japan and India.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:07 AM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Terri Schiavo Inspires Louisiana House

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(Hat Tip: Blogs for Terri)

Under Rep. Gary Beard's bill, the tubes would not be considered "life support." People whose living wills don't make a distinction between life support and feeding tubes would have to be kept alive with the tubes, even if their living will says a patient does not want to be kept alive on life support...

"I'm trying to make sure that the horrible situation that happened in Florida ... doesn't happen in Louisiana," Beard, R-Baton Rouge, told the Committee on Health and Welfare.

This comes as good news for pro-lifers everywhere, but may face some "constitutional challenges." If a patient has asked not to be kept alive, they may fight this bill (assuming it becomes law) and soon the country may find itself with euthanasia on the table again, this time a request from the living. Unless Bill Frist begins to fight for President Bush's judicial nominations, then such a scenario is all the more likely.

The bill faced opposition from physicians and representatives from hospices, who told the committee that the bill would mean the state - not doctors and family members - would make the decision on whether or not a terminally ill patient should live or die...

A similar bill has passed a Senate committee and could complicate the passage of any feeding tube bill, because it would cost the state money. Sen. James David Cain's bill carries amendments that would require the state to pay health care costs for such patients, if the family cannot. That bill passed the Senate Judiciary A Committee and now awaits debate in the Senate.

The latter part of the bill should be struck down as it would raise taxes significantly, especially if a family does not feel like dishing out the necessary cash to save a dying "loved one." Although this bill contains some rough edges, it is good to see state legislatures finally begin to recognize the sanctity of life.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:49 PM • Email Post • •


Everybody Hates The French?

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(Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan, Israpundit)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.

For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".


More Pain.
"Interviewees were simply asked an open question - what five adjectives sum up the French," said Olivier Clodong, one of the study's two authors and a professor of social and political communication at the Ecole Superieur de Commerce, in Paris. "The answers were overwhelmingly negative."

Perhaps the French need to conduct a "PR" campaign in their neighbor states. If this survey represents the basic attitudes of Europe towards the "high and mighty ones," then there is not going to be much love when John Bolton makes his first suggestion for UN reform.
"Bolton is going to lob a Molotov cocktail into this bidding contest," writes Wheeler. "He is going to argue that France should be replaced by the European Union. The EU is now Europe's governing body, to which its 25 member countries have given much of their national sovereignty. Twelve of them, including France, have abandoned their national currencies, replacing them with the euro. Ten more have applied to join the Euro Zone."

Although England would also be affected by this (they would probably have to leave as well) this "suggestion" coupled with France's growing unpopularity is enough to send Chirac in a political tail spin. Selah?

By Darnell Clayton • 11:27 PM • Email Post • •


Blogger Delights

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Back from "blog resting" and today's Blogger Delight's features the nation of Bolivia. Bolivia borders mostly Brazil, but touches Peru, Argentina and Paraguay as well, with Chile blocking it from the Pacific ocean. Boliva is home to some rich culture although it's citizens are known to "party in the streets" when ever they are politically motivated (travelers beware).

El Blog de CHRM (Hablando Bolivia) seems to have chosen the basic orange template, but since our mother tongues differ that is all this blogger will describe of CHRM. Start Something is Blogger Delight's first media blog and the author seems to be into photos, video and rock 'n roll! Fortunately though, this blog is insured by the Mafia (a comforting thought).

Two other blogs seem to have stepped into the blogosphere before stepping out (perhaps they need encouragement) but this team blog has continued onward, sharing their latest thoughts about this cute prisoner. Hmm...where have all of the Bolivian bloggers gone? Perhaps they are over here.

Blogger Birthdays

Aninha from Brazil turns 26, and seems to have a fascination for fantasy films as well as for that...special someone? (smiles)

Patricia also from Brazil turns 20 and has a very simple, to the point blog layout.

Emma from the U.S. turns 17 and she seems a little down right now (at least from her last post). Well Amanda, this blogger hopes the very best for you, and in order to cheer you up (and celebrate your birthday) I have three presents for you. You can choose either one, two, or three and simply email me (address at the top) or comment below on your selection. (may also be great gifts for your friends as well)

Nick turns 29 and ironically is from the state where this blogger was born and raised (but no longer resides. Nick seems like an active blogger who maintains a blog for poetry, for venting and for politics (on the left that is). Nick has some interesting posts ranging from his feelings about turning 29 to his thoughts about the religious right. (note: This blogger wonders what Nick thinks about this post. Can you say friction?)

Corinne turns 26 and has a very nice blog (her switch to typepad proved worth it). Her photo blogging about Stanley Park displays some beautiful photo's and is a must see for every blogger (especially if you enjoy Flickr!).

Blogger Delights brings highlights from various nations as well as celebrating birthdays throughout the blogosphere. If one is interested in visiting some of these blogs, simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 3:20 AM • Email Post • •


Japan Helping Out Palestine

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(Daily Times) "Japan wants to see a peaceful co-existence of two independent states in line with the (Middle East Peace) Road Map and we will give our utmost support," [Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro] Koizumi told a joint news conference with Abbas following their meeting.

Japan has already given $760 million towards Palestine since 1993 and has pledged an additional $100 million as well as an extra $60 million in special needs since Arafat's death. Koizumi continues to praise Abbas for "fighting terrorism" despite the fact that his security forces have done little to confront the roaming armed gangs, mainly because of their popularity with the people of Palestine.

An Abbas aide last week openly mulled the idea of postponing a July legislative election amid fears in the Palestinians' ruling Fatah party that Hamas could capitalize on recent local poll successes. Israel has said a Hamas victory could make it re-think its planned pullout from the Gaza Strip. "July 17 parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned," Abbas told the Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

If Abbas loses these elections, Japan may be forced into supporting a state legally run by terrorists, collapsing all current talks with Israel (as if they have enough to worry about). Hopefully either Hammas will disarm (probably unlikely) or Abbas will win the elections making Japan's gift somewhat worthwhile. In either case, all will be decided by the Palestinians who vote for their governmental leadership on July 17th.

By Darnell Clayton • 2:53 AM • Email Post • •


Iraqi Leader Punished For Visiting Israel

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(Hat Tip: Israpundit, Cross Posted at Blogger News)

(Jerusalem Post) "I was interested to know how they [Israel] deal with problems and with terror. Why should we have war between Iraq and Israel? How can I forget that there is a modern state in the area which has had success in the democratic process and the economy?" [Mithal al-Alusi] explained in broken English...

"Before I went, I knew I would have a huge trouble in Baghdad, I was very sure I would lose my political position. And I was very sure that I was a target for the terrorists but these taboos should be broken, must be broken, and it is the responsibility of the leadership of both parties," he explained.

Unfortunately Al-Alusi conclusions were correct. Not only was he removed from Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress but was fired from heading the national De-Ba'athification Commission. His son's did not fare any better, as they were assassinated outside of their home in February.

Al-Alusi has not given up hope despite all that has happened to him, and although he may be regarded as a man "ahead of his time," he envision an Iraq with diplomatic ties not only with Israel but with Turkey, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Al-Alusi visited Israel in order to expand his viewpoint on a state long regarded in the Arab world as "the enemy." It seems though after all that he has lost, Al-Alusi shows no regrets towards his decision.
Despite his countless losses, Alusi says his trip to Israel was the right decision, and he'd do it all over again. "Many people told me in Baghdad, you have done a very good step, but this is not the right time," he said. "This is an important step and it is the right time. If not now, when is the right time?"

Many Iraqi's have secretly showed support towards his visit to Israel, confessing contacts with Jews ranging from business relationships towards friendly neighbors, with one confessing a crush on an Iraqi Jewish girl. One thing he knows is that Iraq already has influenced the "tempo" of the middle east by being the first to embrace democracy and shun terror. Al-Alusi realizes that the best way to fight this terror is to recognize Israel as an ally against insurgents such as Hezbollah, and to join forces politically as well as logistically in defeating their common foe.

By Darnell Clayton • 2:19 AM • Email Post • •


Kerry Ran On Empty

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(Daily Kos) The man had no reason for running. He had no message beyond "I'm the most electable". Dean was running his anti-establishment campaign. Clark was weaving his sterling military service into domestic issues with his "New American Patriotism". Edwards had the best message of all, talking about the "Two Americas". Yet Kerry had nothing. And while his "most electable" drivel helped propel him into the nomination, it left him ill-prepared for the general campaign...

...campaign insiders will tell you that no one loved Kerry. No one had any sense of higher purpose. People who worked for Dean, Edwards and Clark all passionately loved their man. The campaigns stuck together.

Kos goes on to explain how many of the campaign workers had to sacrifice everything to work in the home states of their favorite candidates, all except John Kerry. Perhaps instead of running on "I'm the most electable" Kerry should have concentrated on building his base. Even Howard Dean had something to say (Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwhhh!!!!). Perhaps instead of running without vision Kerry should first develop an ideal besides "the other choice" if he hopes to succeed in 2008.

Despite his failed 2004 bid, Kerry seems to not have lost his ambition towards being President. As of this publishing, Kerry does not inspire very much passion in the blogosphere, (unlike his rival Hillary) something he potentially will need if he throws in his bid again for the White House.

What John Kerry needs is a "working vision," something pro-active instead of reactive like many of his fellow democratic colleagues have been. Perhaps doing so will inspire people to follow him. Perhaps not. But either way, if Kerry does not provide some road map as to where he wants to bring this country again, he will simply be running on empty. And that's right where he was before.

By Darnell Clayton • 1:49 AM • Email Post • •


Will Israel Attack Iran?

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(Hat Tip: The Black Kettle)

(UK Times Online) ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme...

Israeli forces have used a mock-up of Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practise destroying it. Their tactics include raids by Israel's elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and airstrikes by F-15 jets from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities.

With Iran intent on developing it's nuclear program, all attempts by either Europe or America to "appease" the Iranians are doomed to fail. Iran has repeatedly stated that is will not abide by any international intervention regarding it's nuclear program, so all discussions to persuade the Iranian regime to end it's program are essentially pointless.

Unless an earthquake happens, Iran will undoubtedly develop a working nuclear facility (along with nukes if that is their goal) and Israel will bomb them leading to a possible World War Three.

"No pressure, bribe or threat can make Iran give up its legitimate right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," said an Iranian spokesman.

US officials warned last week that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities by Israeli or American forces had not been ruled out should the issue become deadlocked at the United Nations.

Since European carrots and American sticks are not enough to pursued the regime to abandon it's nuclear ambitions, perhaps an Israeli strike is inevitable. The United States may refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, but these will fail not because of a possible veto from Russia or China, but because nations like India will refuse to acknowledge them.

With Israel and Iran already at odds with each other, with both sides seeing the other as a threat towards national security (with trade nations backing both sides respectively) a war is immanent between these forces. These talks are only a delaying tactic before the inevitable happens. Great.

By Darnell Clayton • 1:18 AM • Email Post • •


Christians Gaining Ground At Work

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(Hat Tip: Alpha Patriot, Cross Posted at Blogger News)

(LA Times.com) Pushed primarily by evangelical Christians, faith is finding a growing presence in corporations that for years have been resistant to religious expression, including such giants as AOL Inc., Intel Corp., American Express Co., American Airlines Inc. and Ford Motor Co...

Companies are allowing employees to sing the Lord's praises only according to strict rules — at lunch and on breaks, and only to those who want to listen — to minimize the threat to workplace harmony. Proselytizing, which can be seen as intrusive and a possible violation of harassment laws, is not permitted.

That is great news to hear, especially in an age of tolerance where if one is gay, Muslim, Jewish (in America not Europe), or atheist, special privileges are either awarded or their basic "space" is respected. Generally it is the Christians who get most of the gripe around the world, being declared "intolerant" because of certain viewpoints. Christians, just like any other belief system out there deserve the same respect, rights, etc. that their fellow co-workers enjoy. It is about time that these corporations have decided to recognize them.

Since the 1980s, employers have allowed workers with common interests — including gays and lesbians, military families, and people of shared ethnic backgrounds — to form "diversity groups." Some companies say the policy has helped the bottom line: Recruitment, retention and productivity have improved as employees have begun to feel more connected to the workplace.

So when Christians started asking to be included in the trend, many companies saw it as an extension of an idea that already had served them well. Some offered not only access to corporate facilities, but also budgets that could run into the thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately not all companies have embraced this "new idea" of allowing Christians to assemble in the workplace. Coca-Cola and General Motors Corp. seem to have an "anti-faith" attitude despite the fact that they allow workers to assemble for such things as race, sexual orientation and gender. Despite this, the trend in the corporate world is that people of faith (especially Christians) are "tolerated" as long as they do not publicly evangelize to their co-workers. This means that the religious faithful can once again legally meet at work (or at least meet without the threat of being fired).

By Darnell Clayton • 12:25 AM • Email Post • •


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Blogger Delights

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Today's featured nation is the country of Papua New Guinea which is known for it's various landscape with everything from swamps to mud and moss forests to its jagged limestone "property" if you will. Papua New Guinea also hosts small tree Kangeroo's as well as some "uberly massive" butterflies known as Queen Alexandra Birdwing's.

Unfortunately Papua New Guinea has not received much great press due to the high urban unemployment, rising crime rate and above all the exploitation of it's environment (which is never a good thing if you ask any honest blogger). Hopefully our resident bloggers have better news to report from the region long dogged by the MSM.

Spork seems to have "blogging fever" as she maintains several different types of blogs ranging from calling random people to taking random pictures on her photo blog. Well, at least she has time to photo blog about her friends (because she cares) as well as blogging about producing a short film (Michael Moore, watch out!) but her most interesting post has to deal with a designing a t-shirt portraying Jesus as black (or at least with an Afro on his head).

Larissa seems like she is on a humanitarian mission and is actually helping out the nationals of Papua New Guinea (and it looks like her phone is working again!) while this blogger is either from Papua New Guinea or a Southerner who wishes she was there (happy belated Cinco de Mayo by the way).

Derek seems to have a very funny (yet interesting) picture of a "hedgehog" while it seems that there are Japanese speaking bloggers residing in Papua New Guinea (Google translation here).

Blogger Note: Cute Photo, must see!

Blogger Birthdays

Mike turns 28 today and has an interesting diary about...life.

Hope turns 32 today and it looks like she is just entering the blogosphere with a test post (ahh...brings back memories).

Steve turns 31 today and has a post commemorating his existence (surprise, surprise).

Melissa from Singapore has aged today (number unknown) but for some unknown reason her Nav Bar seems bloated although her team blog looks really nice.

Mike turns 24 today and seems to have messed with his template just a "wee too much" but has started a new blog site until he can figure out the html from his old. This blogger would recommend Mike check out Blog Skins, Blogger Templates or even Ehsany's Blog Templates (who happened to design this site) and just focus on blogging.

James turns 54 today and gives his "two cents" regarding China's future. This blogger agrees.

Blogger Delights brings highlights from various nations as well as celebrating birthdays throughout the blogosphere. If one is interested in visiting some of these blogs, simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:05 PM • Email Post • •


Democrat Breaking Ranks With Party

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(Hat Tip: Blogs for Bush)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Breaking with party leaders, a Democratic congressman plans to introduce Social Security legislation, saying his first commitment is to his constituents.

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., said Friday: "I have the largest amount of Social Security recipients of any Democrat anywhere in the country. My allegiance to seniors is greater than my allegiance to the Democratic Party."

It is good to see that this proposal finally receive some "support" from the Democratic left. Unfortunately Wexler's plan calls for an increase in taxes something many red state voters (and probably blue state voters) will not appreciate. Wexler's announcement has not been well received within his own party, but besides Joseph Lieberman, he may go down in political history as the first Democrat to leave the "reactionist camp" that his party has long been known as for the last couple of years.

"The president's approach cuts benefits and it creates a privatization scheme, and on top of that does not ensure the solvency of Social Security," said Wexler, whose district includes the largest number of Social Security beneficiaries of any Democrat in the country.

The congressman said his bill, which has been reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, would achieve solvency by eliminating the $2.1 billion program shortfall estimated by the nonpartisan agency. Social Security's trustees have pegged the figured at $3.9 billion.

Although all the details of this bill are not in, it is good to see the Democrats becoming proactive when it comes to solutions. Although this blogger can not give feed back about Social Security because of "conflict of interest," (with an upcoming career) but one can visit these two blogs (Social Security Choice and Rock The Vote) for analysis on privitizing social security and personal accounts.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:45 PM • Email Post • •


Gay Couples Beware

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Hat Tip: The Black Kettle)

WHEN the editor of one of America's leading gay magazines visited the world's gay capital a fortnight ago, he assumed that he would be safe.

But as Chris Crain, editor of the Washington Blade, was walking hand in hand with his boyfriend near one of the gay districts in Amsterdam, two men standing on a street corner spat at his face. He stopped to ask why, was called a "fag" and suddenly the two youths turned into seven.

Crain was surround by what appeared to be Moroccan youths who kicked Crain (along with his partner) to the ground and ended up breaking his nose and severely bruising his face. Although their are many who disagree with the homosexual lifestyle, "beating them" is not an appropriate way of displaying one's dissent. Ironically this did not happen in America, rather it was Amsterdam, known to be one of the most liberal cities in the world (as well as the first to legalize gay marriage) that Crain was attacked.

For the first time, the Amsterdam Tourist Board has issued a warning to gay visitors to be careful in the city. In the first country to legalize homosexual marriage, gays are increasingly fearful of holding hands in public. Some have been chased out of their houses and middle-class gays are moving to rural areas for safety.

"I was really surprised. I felt comfortable, because it is San Francisco times ten. But I didn't appreciate the depth of hostility between different groups there, and we walked right into the middle of it," Mr Crain said from his home in Washington.

Most of this has been due towards Muslim hostility towards homosexuals, which according to some is increasing (but since the city doesn't keep tabs on this "trend" one will never know). Many Gays will no longer walk "hand-in-hand" for fear of attack with some in the city running inside cafe's for safety (despite the fact that the some of the business locations cater to gays). If one is gay and traveling to Amsterdam, beware...

By Darnell Clayton • 10:26 PM • Email Post • •


What Is Annan Hiding?

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Hat Tip: Captains Quarters)

Kofi Annan neglected to mention two key meetings when he was first questioned last year about contacts with his son's company when it was soliciting business under the U.N. oil-for-food program...

"During many different meetings with the panel and its counsel, the Secretary-General took pains to answer questions truthfully and completely. In his first interview, however, Mr. Annan had no advance knowledge of the specific topics of greatest concern to the panel and had not prepared himself adequately," attorney Greg Craig said.

Either Annan is lying or incompetent. The scandals alone would be enough to remove any CEO or President from his position of authority (and even possible impeachment of the president if such a thing were committed). Although the United Nations is a necessary organization (at least somewhat) they will never go beyond the "lid" of their leaders. It's time for Annan to step down and someone else to be appointed.

After all, it isn't like the U.N. is desiring this case so that it can clear it's "good name."
Parton's acrimonious departure from the U.N. probe has turned into a legal battle, with the U.N. trying, unsuccessfully, to stop its former investigator from complying with the subpoena to provide his investigative files to Congress.

Those files provide a detailed account of what Annan told investigators and when, and show the friction over how to interpret evidence that ensued between Parton and the three-member committee, led by Volcker, that supervised his work.

It is doubtful that Annan would willingly leave the United Nations without pressure from the U.S., England and perhaps other western powers recognizing "integrity" as a foundation for any organization. The United Nations is quickly becoming the saddest bureaucracy of the 21st century, and if it's founders were alive today they would certainly weep.

Hopefully leadership within the U.N. (that has not profited from the Oil-for-food program) will purge the institution of this hypocrite and restore it's honor and respect around the world. Until then, Annan's presence will only add to the stench of corruption surround this body, and his continued position at the helm of the U.N. will have the affect of Edward John Smith commanding the Titanic.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:05 PM • Email Post • •


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