Monday, April 27, 2009

Somali pirate interview

Quoted from an interview with Somali pirate, Dahir Mohamed Hayeysi:

"Years ago we used to fish a lot, enough for us to eat and sell in the markets.

Then illegal fishing and dumping of toxic wastes by foreign fishing vessels affected our livelihood, depleting the fish stocks...

...The only way the piracy can stop is if [Somalia] gets an effective government that can defend our fish.

And then we will disarm, give our boats to that government and will be ready to work.

Foreign navies can do nothing to stop piracy."

Computational Knowledge Engine: Wolfram|Alpha

Review of Wolfram|Alpha from the makers of Mathematica.

"According to Stephen Wolfram, the goal of Alpha is to give everyone access to expert knowledge and the data that a specialist would be able to compute from this information."

Alpha will go live within the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cocaine smugglers turn to submarines, feds say

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The capture of two cocaine-laden semi-submarines in the past week has highlighted the increasing use of the vessels, which now transport one-third of illicit drugs in the eastern Pacific, a major route between Colombia and the United States, U.S. authorities said Friday.

Between 2000 and 2007, U.S. authorities said, there were 23 drug sub "events" that they know of. But the number of sightings has mushroomed. There have been 62 events in the first three quarters of fiscal 2008, officials said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In quotes: Ahmadinejad speech at UN conference on racism

Video here:

Article here:

Diplomats have walked out of a UN conference on racism during a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Here are some key quotes from his address:

"The victorious powers [of the world wars] call themselves the conquerors of the world, while ignoring or down-treading the rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements.

Following World War Two, they resorted to making an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive, racist regime in Palestine.

It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defending those racist perpetrators of genocide, whilst the awakened consciences and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutality and the bombardment of civilians of Gaza.

[Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were] a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination or infringement upon the dignity and independence of nations.

Today, the human community is facing a kind of racism which has tarnished the image of humanity. In the beginning of the third millennium, the word Zionism personifies racism, that falsely resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide hatred.

Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their supporters of political and international means... Governments must be encouraged and supported in the fight aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and moving towards reforming the current international mechanisms.

You are all aware of the conspiracy of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference... It should be recognised that boycotting such a session is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism."


Ahmadinejad speech: World reactions

A speech at a UN conference on racism in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned Israel has drawn sharp criticism. Here are some key quotes from reaction from around the world.


I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite. This is the opposite of what this conference seeks to achieve.

It is deeply regrettable that my plea to look to the future of unity was not heeded by the Iranian president.


We will not allow the Holocaust deniers to carry out another Holocaust against the Jewish people. This is the supreme duty of the State of Israel. This is my supreme duty as prime minister of Israel.


We've heard all of this before from President Ahmadinejad. The comments that he made were unacceptable and feed racial hatred.

Iran needs to end this type of inflammatory rhetoric. It's not helpful. This is not rhetoric that should be used in the 21st century.


We cannot allow, through our presence, the legitimisation of absolutely unacceptable anti-Israeli attacks. The Czech delegation will not return to the conference at all, as a consequence to Ahmadinejad's speech.


Naturally, speeches like that of the Iranian president do not go in the right direction, because, even if he did not deny the Holocaust or Israel's right to exist, his expressions were extremist and unacceptable.


We call on the Iranian leadership to show much more measured, moderate, honest and constructive rhetoric when dealing with issues in the region, and not this type of vile, hateful, inciteful speech that we all saw.


I condemn the use of a UN forum for political grandstanding. I find this totally objectionable.

The best riposte for this type of event is to reply and correct, not to withdraw and boycott the conference.


President Ahmadinejad's remarks... were offensive, inflammatory and utterly unacceptable.

That such remarks were made using the platform of the UN's anti-racism conference is all the more reprehensible.


If Hitler himself had addressed this forum, would UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sit as politely as he did for the lies and hatred spewed forth by Ahmadinejad?

Shame on him, and shame on anyone who stayed in the room to hear, or applaud, his evil rants.


Norway will not accept that the odd-man-out hijacks the collective efforts of the many.

He is mid-electoral campaign, he puts on his show and gets what he wants when chaos breaks out in the room.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Venezuela's Change of Heart

Wink, wink:

"We take Obama at his word, with the one difference we have: We [Venezuelans] are socialists," Chavez said.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

White House Budget Includes Money for High-Speed Rail

Today, CNN posted video about Obama's high speed rail agenda, but it wouldn't load, so I fished around for more news. The number I see consistently in all articles is $8 billion which is apparently just barely a drop in the hat.
From the article:

...experts and government officials caution that despite the billions, the amounts are still not nearly enough to pay for the kind of sleek "bullet train" systems that crisscross Europe and Japan at speeds of 200 mph or higher. The California project, for example, would cost an estimated $45 billion, including $9 billion in state bonds that voters approved last year.

"It sounds like a lot of money to Americans, but it's really just a start," said James P. RePass, president of the National Corridors Initiative, a nonprofit rail advocacy group. "We're not going to wake up in a year and see a bullet train. But we are going to see much faster service for relatively little money."

This article posted on Feb. 26 '09:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Money for high-speed rail links and an upgraded air-traffic control system is included in President Barack Obama's first annual budget, introduced Thursday.

The following are some of the key transportation figures and proposals in the fiscal year 2010 budget:

– Funding for the Department of Transportation would increase by $2 billion, from $70.5 billion to $72.5 billion

– The Transportation Department would receive another $48.1 billion in the stimulus package, which is separate from the budget

– A five-year, $5 billion state grant program would boost high-speed rail. This money would come on top of the $8 billion already allocated to high-speed rail in the stimulus package. The administration envisions the creation of environmentally friendly "high-speed rail corridors across the country linking regional population centers."

– $800 million would go toward upgrading the air-traffic control system.

The government's fiscal year runs from October of one year through September of the next.

Link to the White House budget .pdf file:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cybernetic Suit from Japan

HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb)


"Cyberdyne Corporation of Japan, in conjunction with Daiwa House, has begun mass production of a cybernetic bodysuit that augments body movement and increases user strength by up to tenfold.

The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) suit works by detecting faint bioelectrical signals using pads placed on specific areas of the body. The pads move the HAL suit accordingly. The Cyberdyne website explains: “When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneuron, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence. At this moment, very weak biosignals can be detected on the surface of the skin. HAL catches these signals through a sensor attached on the skin of the wearer. Based on the signals obtained, the power unit is controlled to wearer’s daily activities.”

Among the potential applications, Cyberdyne is emphasizing helping people with movement disabilities, augmenting strength for difficult industrial tasks, disaster rescue, and entertainment.

The HAL suit is not currently available. But according to Nikkei News, Daiwa and Cyberdyne are planning an annual production of 400 units and they should be marketed at approximately $4,200 US dollars."