Jun 13th, 2006 by ravi
Rove escapes?

NPR : Rove Won't Be Charged in CIA Leak Case
by Linda Wertheimer and Don Gonyea

Morning Edition, June 13, 2006 · Prosecutors have apparently decided not to charge senior White House adviser Karl Rove with any crimes in the CIA leak investigation. Rove's lawyer says his client was advised of the decision Monday.

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Jun 12th, 2006 by ravi
Slate: Pulp Covers for Classics


[via BoingBoing]
Pulp Covers for Classic Books

Slate's take on the covers that never were, for the classics.


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Jun 10th, 2006 by ravi
No Apple for India

BW: India: Why Apple Walked Away
[…] Apple Computer Inc. has shelved plans to build a sprawling technical support center in Bangalore, even as IBM (IBM ) and other tech powers are ramping up. Just three months back, Apple appeared to be on the same trajectory, and there was talk of the company hiring 3,000 workers by 2007 to handle support for Macintosh computers and other Apple gear. Many in India even speculated that Jobs might travel there this year to publicize Apple's commitment to the country.

It wasn't meant to be. In late May, Apple dismissed most of the 30 new hires at its subsidiary in Bangalore. (A handful working in sales and marketing will stay on.) Spokesman Steve Dowling would say only that Apple had "reevaluated our plans" and decided to provide support from other countries. Another source familiar with the situation, though, says the decision was cost-driven. "India isn't as inexpensive as it used to be," the source says. "The turnover is high, and the competition for good people is strong." Apple feels it "can do [such work] more efficiently elsewhere."

The shutdown highlights concerns about the sustainability of India's fast-track economy. True, India grew 9.3% last quarter and is still home to the world's largest and fastest-growing offshore outsourcing sector, which last year generated some $17.3 billion in revenues and employed nearly 700,000 people, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Yet India's benchmark Sensitive index, or Sensex, has dropped by 20% in the past month as global investors have fled emerging-market stocks. And the outsourcing sector is now plagued by concerns about rising wages. Entry-level pay at tech and outsourcing companies climbed by as much as 13% annually from 2000 to 2004, while salaries for midlevel managers jumped 30% a year during the same period, to a median of $31,131, according to McKinsey and Nasscom, India's software industry association.

[…] 

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Jun 9th, 2006 by ravi
Polling Report: Evolution

So, here's what the public thinks about the origins of life and evolution:

Polling Report: Science and Nature

"Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings? Human beings have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life and God guided this process. Human beings have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life, but God had no part in this process. OR, God created human beings in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it." Options rotated

           

.

    Evolved,
God Guided
Evolved,
God Had
No Part
Exactly
As Bible
Describes
Other (vol.) Unsure
    % % % % %
  9/8-11/05 31 12 53 1 3

The report lists multiple surveys with many versions of this and related question, and in almost all cases, the majority (or plurality) have the anti-evolutionary view of things. Perhaps I should not be surprised by that?

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Jun 9th, 2006 by ravi
Chris Floyd on Zarq’s timely demise

This is good stuff. Go read the whole thing! 

Chris Floyd – Hubub in Hibhib: The Timely Death of al-Zarqawi
[…]

Zarqawi, the notorious shape-shifter who, according to grainy video evidence, was able to regenerate lost limbs, speak in completely different accents, alter the contours of his bone structure and also suffered an unfortunate binge-and-purge weight problem which caused him to change sizes with almost every appearance, was head of an organization that quite fortuitously dubbed itself "Al Qaeda in Iraq" just around the time that the Bush Administration began changing its pretext for the conquest from "eliminating Iraq's [non-existent] weapons of mass destruction" to "fighting terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them over here."

The name change of the Zarqawi gang from its cumbersome original – "The Monotheism and Holy War Group" – to the more media-sexy "Qaeda" brand was thus a PR godsend for the Bush Administration, which was then able to associate the widespread native uprising against the Coalition occupation with the cave-dwelling dastards of the bin Laden organization. This proved an invaluable tool for the Pentagon's massive "psy-op" campaign against the American people, which was successful in sufficiently obscuring reality and defusing rising public concerns about what many experts have termed "the full-blown FUBAR" in Iraq until after the 2004 elections.

[…]

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Jun 9th, 2006 by ravi
Keeping Zarqawi Alive

 [via BoingBoing] 

War Room – Salon.com

[…] 

In fact, there's evidence that the war actually helped keep Zarqawi alive longer — and certainly presented him with more easily accessible targets — than would have been the case if the United States had not invaded Iraq. As NBC News reported back in 2004, U.S. military planners drew up plans to take out Zarqawi three times in 2002 and 2003, but the Bush administration killed the plans each time. Why? Because, military officials told NBC, the Bush administration feared that destroying Zarqawi's terrorist camp in Iraq "could undercut its case for war against Saddam."

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Jun 9th, 2006 by ravi
MPAA gets sued!

Just for the laughs:

TorrentSpy suit accuses MPAA of hacking

[…]

TorrentSpy alleges that in July last year the MPAA paid the hacker $15,000 for the information. TorrentSpy also alleges that the MPAA told the hacker it didn't care how he got the information and that it would protect him from any liability in obtaining the information. The suit does not explain how TorrentSpy discovered the information breach.

[…] 

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Jun 8th, 2006 by ravi
Beatles before Ravi Shankar

This is too freaking hilarious! [via BoingBoing] A YouTube video of a desi movie song that copies The Beatles' I Want to Hold Your Hand. Shammi Kapoor is just the icing on the cake on this one. Finally, a Beatles song I can listen to without barfing ;-).

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Jun 7th, 2006 by ravi
Wal-Mart’s organic strategy

The New York Times tells us that Wal-Mart wants to sell organic food:

Wal-Mart Eyes Organic Foods – New York Times
[…]

Wal-Mart has decided that offering more organic food will help modernize its image and broaden its appeal to urban and other upscale consumers. It has asked its large suppliers to help.

Wal-Mart's interest is expected to change organic food production in substantial ways.

Some organic food advocates applaud the development, saying Wal-Mart's efforts will help expand the amount of land that is farmed organically and the quantities of organic food available to the public.

But others say the initiative will ultimately hurt organic farmers, will lower standards for the production of organic food and will undercut the environmental benefits of organic farming.

[…]

The concerns raised (in the quoted section and elsewhere in the article) are important. Perhaps I am a bit paranoid, but additionally, what worries me is that this effort on Wal-Mart's part, perhaps unintentionally, has a divide and conquer effect by doing an end run around worker's issues (its current bete noir), since this could divert the attention or alter the priorities of liberals/progressives who would support (in general) both initiatives (worker's rights and organic food).

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Jun 5th, 2006 by ravi
Iran and the West

Below is an excerpt from the NYT about the history of Western meddling in Iran, with a sub-theme (reflected in the title) that is inessential to basic understanding of the politics and motivation of all parties.

The Persian Complex – New York Times
[…]

We tend to forget that Iran's insistence on its sovereign right to develop nuclear power is in effect a national pursuit for empowerment, a pursuit informed by at least two centuries of military aggression, domestic meddling, skullduggery and, not least, technological denial by the West. Every schoolchild in Iran knows about the C.I.A.-sponsored 1953 coup that toppled Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Even an Iranian with little interest in his or her past is conscious of how Iran throughout the 19th and 20th centuries served as a playground for the Great Game.

Iranians also know that, hard as it may be for latter-day Americans and Europeans to believe, from the 1870's to the 1920's Russia and Britain deprived Iran of even basic technology like the railroad, which was then a key to economic development. At various times, both powers jealously opposed a trans-Iranian railroad because they thought it would threaten their ever-expanding imperial frontiers. When it was finally built, the British, Russian (and American) occupying forces during the Second World War made full use of it (free of charge), calling Iran a "bridge of victory" over Nazi Germany. They did so, of course, after Winston Churchill forced the man who built the railroad, Reza Shah Pahlavi, to abdicate and unceremoniously kicked him out of the country.

Not long after, a similar Western denial of Iran's economic sovereignty resulted in a dramatic showdown that had fatal consequences for the country's fragile democracy and left lasting scars on its national consciousness. The oil nationalization movement of 1951 to 1953 under Mossadegh was opposed by Britain, and eventually by its partner in profit, the United States, with the same self-righteousness that today colors their views of the Iranian yearning for nuclear energy.

[…]

A few other worthwhile sources of information:

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