Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why is Hillary Clinton in Myanmar

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As Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Myanmar on Wednesday, the neighbors were watching closely.

The trip to the usually closed-off nation, the first by a U.S. secretary of state in more than half a century,

"We are quite uncertain what kind of role the U.S. is going to play in Myanmar," said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Peking University. "Myanmar will be a test for American policy toward China."

The concerns underline the complexity of relations between the United States and China. On one hand are economic ties that include more than $457 billion in trade last year and China's holding of more than $1.1 trillion in American Treasury debt.

Obama had told the Australian Parliament that the United States had made a "deliberate and strategic decision, as a Pacific nation" to take "a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future."

It's "part of the grand policy adjustment by the U.S. to reconsolidate its presence in the Asian Pacific, and its main driving force is concern about China," said Wang Yong, a professor of foreign relations and the director of the Center for International Political Economy at Peking University.

South Korea, which drew closer to the U.S. after China failed to condemn its North Korean allies for allegedly torpedoing and sinking a South Korean naval ship last year. China similarly said nothing after North Korea shelled a South Korean island.

Beautiful Mosques in the world

This is a slide show

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Europe's great churches were built centuries ago and the great monuments of Judaism are almost invariably antique, but massive, eye-catching Mosques have bloomed all over the world during the last several decades thanks to funding provided by the oil rich and royal. These magnificent structures praise God with their architectural elation, soaring towers, onion domes and brilliant coloring. They aslo draw inspiration from the architectural traditions of the places they've been constructed, from Brunei to Arabia.

See more at

Thursday, November 24, 2011

World's lightest material

Developed in California

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A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories, and the California Institute of Technology claim to have created the "world's lightest" material. The findings, published in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal Science, say that the material is 100 times lighter than styrofoam, and capable of sitting atop a feathery dandelion without dispersing its seeds. Here's how it works:

Microlattice, reportedly the world's lightest material, is made of interlocking hollow nickel tubes that are each 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Microlattice, reportedly the world's lightest material, is made of interlocking hollow nickel tubes that are each 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Photo: Dan Little © HRL Laboratories, LLC.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Continued clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square

3rd day - More deaths

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Clashes have again erupted in the Egyptian capital as security forces continue their efforts to clear Cairo's Tahrir Square of protesters.

At least 20 people are reported to have died since the violence began on Saturday with hundreds more injured.

Some 1,750 people have also been reported injured in clashes across the country.

A group of senior Egyptian diplomats have also issued a statement condemning the way the protests have been handled,

Attacks on Capital: A New Phase for Syria

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at the offices of the ruling Baath Party in Damascus on Sunday in a highly symbolic strike that signaled a new chapter in the eight-month uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

It was the second attack in days in the capital, which had so far largely been spared the unrest in other cities.

Mr. Assad said in a newspaper interview that he had no choice but to continue his military campaign against dissidents and vowed that he was prepared to fight and die if needed

The Free Syrian Army, an insurgent group made of defecting soldiers and based in southern Turkey, claimed responsibility for both attacks.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Egypt protesters flee security in Tahrir Square

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Cairo (CNN) -- Hundreds of Egyptian army and police forces pushed into Cairo's Tahrir Square Sunday, making thousands of demonstrators flee in the face of tear gas and what sounded like live fire.

Clashes had broken out in the square earlier Sunday, the second day of unrest there ahead of the country's elections.

Egyptian riot policemen scuffle with a protester at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, but before the army joined them later in the day, the situation appeared calmer than on Saturday, when rifts between police and protesters left two people dead in two cities, the health ministry reported.

At least 928 people have been injured from the clashes in Egypt, the health ministry said Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Israeli envoy Yitzhak Levanon was back in Cairo. In September, protesters stormed and ransacked the Israeli embassy there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pentagon successfully tests hypersonic flying bomb

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The Pentagon on Thursday held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than a hour.
Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the "Advanced Hypersonic Weapon," or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific "at hypersonic speed" before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.
Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.
Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 -- or five times the speed of sound -- 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy NYC livestream

This site is the live stream for Occupy NYC

Fascinating to watch, the pace of tweets is almost too fast to read

Potential breakthrough for treating cancer

This looks very hopeful. Let's wish these researchers well in their continued efforts.

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Protein recycling in the body could be a critical part of tumour formation, researchers believe.

A report in Science Translational Medicine showed that protein recycling was accelerated in more than 30 types of cancerous cell.

When scientists interrupted the process in mice with cancer, the tumours began to shrink.

The recycling process studied was "chaperone-mediated autophagy" (CAM). It is a normal part of a cell's routine, removing damaged goods and recycling the raw materials.

Prof Ana Cuervo, one of the researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, believes cancerous cells are using this process in order to fuel their abnormally rapidly growth.

"Cancer cells seem to have learned how to optimise this system to obtain the energy they need," she said.

When they studied a variety of tissues, including lung, breast and liver, they found the level of CAM activity was higher in cancerous cells than normal ones.

The researchers then used a virus to infect cells with short snippets of genetic material, which would turn off the recycling process.

Using the virus slowed the growth of the tumours in mice with human lung cancers.

Prof Cuervo said it resulted in "dramatic tumour shrinkage and almost complete blockage of metastasis [spreading]".

The scientists believe their findings could lead to an anticancer drug. By finding a chemical which would interfere with the recycling process they hope to be able to mimic the effect the virus had.


UN nuclear agency IAEA seeks high-level Iran visit

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The head of the UN nuclear agency, the IAEA, has proposed sending a high-level mission to Iran, to address new fears about a possible military dimension to the country's nuclear programme.

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano (C) at the board of governors conference at the agency headquarters in Vienna

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said there was credible information Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a bomb.

He said there might be undeclared nuclear material and activities.

Tehran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.

"Our technical experts have spent years painstakingly and objectively analysing a huge quantity of information from a wide variety of independent sources, including from a number of member states, from the agency's own efforts and from information provided by Iran itself. The agency finds the information to be, overall, credible," Mr Amano said in a statement.

"It is consistent in terms of technical content, individuals and organisations involved, and timeframes. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

He hoped a date for the visit would be agreed soon, he added.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

King of Jordan Becomes First Arab Leader to Tell Syria’s Assad to Quit

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — King Abdullah of Jordan added his voice on Monday to the growing pressure on the president of Syria to relinquish power, becoming the first Arab leader on Syria’s doorstep to call for a change in government to end the increasingly bloody political uprising there.

The Jordanian monarch’s remarks, made in an interview with the BBC, came as Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was still smarting from the Arab League’s unexpectedly strong rebuke over the weekend with its decision to suspend Syria’s membership. Syria also faced additional sanctions imposed Monday by the European Union.

“I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down,” King Abdullah told the BBC. “If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life.”

The United Nations said this month that at least 3,500 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising started in March. The government disputed the death toll and has blamed the unrest on armed groups which it says have killed more than 1,100 soldiers and police officers.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thailand Floods 2011: Ancient Capital Damaged

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one of Thailand's greatest historical sites. Record flooding has turned Ayutthaya's ancient temples into islands, and a giant statue of the reclining Buddha appears to float miraculously on the lapping water.

Experts fear that at least half of the more than 200 waterlogged monasteries, fortresses and other monuments in the one-time royal capital have been damaged.

Capital of a powerful state for 417 years, seat of 33 kings, Ayutthaya has been described as one of the greatest cities on water ever, with a canal network that measured more than 85 miles (140 kilometers). Built on the flood plain of central Thailand at the confluence of three rivers, it was inundated annually, but its citizens lived in stilt-raised houses and used boats for transport.

Thailand Floods 2011

Water also defended Ayutthaya, which once held as many as 1 million residents, until a brutal sacking by the Burmese in 1767 forced relocation of the capital to Bangkok, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south – where the same floodwaters that inundated Ayutthaya are now nearing the inner city.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

India and Pakistan PMs pledge 'new chapter'

Let's hope this continues

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Pakistan's prime minister and his Indian counterpart have met in the Maldives, pledging to open a "new chapter" between the two nations.

Yusuf Raza Gilani (L) and Manmohan Singh in the Maldives, 10 Nov
Mr Singh (R) said the next round of talks should be "far more productive"

Talks between the two nations were suspended after the 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

But earlier this year, leaders vowed to resume their dialogue and find ways to build trust and promote peace.

The two prime ministers held an almost hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) meeting in the Maldives, which is being attended by eight heads of government.

"The next round of talks will be more positive, more constructive and will open a new chapter in the history of both countries," Mr Gilani told reporters.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Op-Ed: Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

The Tuesday release of the IAEA report comes close to removing all doubt about Iran's nuclear program. More sanctions appear on the way. But will this solve the problem in the long run?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

U.N. Finds Signs of Work by Iran Toward Nuclear Device

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United Nations weapons inspectors released a trove of new evidence on Tuesday that they say makes a “credible” case that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device” and that the project may still be under way.

The long-awaited report relies on evidence of far greater scope and depth than any the International Atomic Energy Agency has made public before, and represents the harshest judgment the agency has ever issued in its decade-long struggle to pierce the secrecy surrounding the Iranian program. The findings have already rekindled a debate among the Western allies and Israel about whether increased diplomatic pressure, sanctions, sabotage or military action could stop Iran’s program.

Those tests “are strong indicators of possible weapon development,” it said.