Monthly Archives: October 2012

Six Scientists Sent To Jail In Italy

This is a hard one to wrap my head around:

Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L’Aquila.

A regional court found them guilty of multiple manslaughter.

Prosecutors said the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defence maintained there was no way to predict major quakes.

The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the city and killed 309 people.

Many smaller tremors had rattled the area in the months before the quake that destroyed much of the historic centre.

It took Judge Marco Billi slightly more than four hours to reach the verdict in the trial, which had begun in September 2011.

Lawyers have said that they will appeal against the sentence. As convictions are not definitive until after at least one level of appeal in Italy, it is unlikely any of the defendants will immediately face prison.

‘Inherently unpredictable’

The case has alarmed many in the scientific community, who feel science itself has been put on trial.

Some scientists have warned that the case might set a damaging precedent, deterring experts from sharing their knowledge with the public for fear of being targeted in lawsuits, the BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome reports.

Among those convicted were some of Italy’s most prominent and internationally respected seismologists and geological experts.

Earlier, more than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the group in the dock.

After the verdict was announced, David Rothery, of the UK’s Open University, said earthquakes were “inherently unpredictable”.

“The best estimate at the time was that the low-level seismicity was not likely to herald a bigger quake, but there are no certainties in this game,” he said.

Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics at the UK’s Royal Berkshire Hospital said that the sentence was surprising and could set a worrying precedent.

“If the scientific community is to be penalised for making predictions that turn out to be incorrect, or for not accurately predicting an event that subsequently occurs, then scientific endeavour will be restricted to certainties only and the benefits that are associated with findings from medicine to physics will be stalled.”

BBC

LOL…

So science generally agrees that all of this was unpredictable and no wrong was done… I guess the people here to blame are the lawyers who were able to twist this all around and get a conviction.

Talk about an amazing prosecutor to somehow be able to overshadow ‘the truth of science.’ I would like this guy representing me.

IDs For Illegals Easily Passes Thru Council

Of course, the illegal immigrant issue in the US is becoming more and more unsolvable as measures like this just easily win over in areas famous for their amount of illegals. No one desires to even cooperate with the national government on some level to come up with a comprehensive plan on how the issue will be dealt with.

And, of course, Obama has done nothing and has no idea what should be done, apparently.

It is the classic unsolvable issue…

L.A. NOW

Southern California — this just in

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ID card for illegal immigrants breezes through L.A. council panel

October 16, 2012 | 11:35 am

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A plan to provide illegal immigrants with an official city ID card easily won a key vote Tuesday when members of a Los Angeles City Council committee agreed to solicit bids for a third-party vendor to handle the program.

Councilman Ed Reyes, a member of the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, said it’s “about time” that L.A. residents, regardless of immigration status, have the ability to easily open bank accounts and access city services.

“This card allows people who have been living in the shadows to be out in the light of day,” Reyes said, calling Los Angeles a cosmopolitan city with an international economy.

Reyes said opposition to the so-called City Services Card is inevitable because it touches on the hot-button issue of illegal immigration. But in the end, “cooler heads will prevail and understand the humanity of the suggestion,’’ Reyes said.

LA Times

While the Federal government has no idea what to do, Los Angeles is doing its best to make the conundrum far worse through giving inroads to the illegals.

Great job, guys.

UK Cabinet Minister Wants To Leave EU

Finally, someone with some logic up near the top of the British government:

‘We’re ready to walk out on Europe’: Prime Minister’s closest ally Michael Gove sparks EU furore with dramatic admission

• Education Secretary has told friends that he would vote to leave if there was a referendum today on whether the UK should cut its ties with Brussels
• He wants Britain to give other EU nations an ultimatum: ‘Give us back our sovereignty or we will walk out’
• Mr Gove insists the UK could thrive as a free trading nation on its own like Norway and Switzerland
• He has discussed his views in detail with David Cameron

The chances of Britain leaving the EU rose dramatically last night after it emerged that one of David Cameron’s closest Cabinet allies believes it is time to tell Brussels bluntly: ‘We are ready to quit.’

Education Secretary Michael Gove has told friends that, if there was a referendum today on whether the UK should cut its ties with Brussels, he would vote to leave.

He wants Britain to give other EU nations an ultimatum: ‘Give us back our sovereignty or we will walk out.’

Mr Gove insists the UK could thrive as a free trading nation on its own, like other non-EU nations in Europe such as Norway and Switzerland. He has changed his view partly as a result of his fury at Brussels meddling which has held up his school reforms.

Mr Gove, one of the Prime Minister’s closest confidants, has discussed his views in detail with Mr Cameron. In an anti-EU pincer movement by the two Tory allies, Mr Cameron will formally announce later this month the first major step towards grabbing back powers from Brussels.

He will set out in detail how he plans to withdraw Britain from EU justice ties, but he will then ‘cherry pick’ which aspects of Anglo-EU legal co-operation he believes are in British interests.

These could include the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), access to police databases, prisoner transfers and co-operation over drugs trafficking and money laundering.

The disclosures are the latest evidence of a turning point in Britain’s relationship with the EU, which is currently gripped by the euro crisis.

Mr Cameron has struck an increasingly tough stance. He won plaudits for vetoing changes in the EU Treaty, has edged closer to pledging an ‘In or Out’ referendum, and suggested Brussels should have two budgets, one for eurozone nations and another for non-eurozone nations such as the UK.

Daily Mail

This seems to be the first concrete talk I hear of very top officials contemplating outright leaving the EU. As Britain has never been as fully fledged a member as other nations there, it seems to make sense that they are the ones to start talking first. I wonder if this can be an indicator of the confidence foreign nations now have in the EU?

Especially fun news after this entire Nobel peace prize… Comedy hour? Who knows what the Norwegian Nobel Committee was (or wasn’t) thinking. While this is all happening, of course, the separatist movements of Europe are on the rise.

Who knows what the fate of the EU will be…

Turkey Continues Messing W/ Syria

OK, OK, I know the drill: Assad is the bad guy and the FSA are all heroes of democracy that upon the conclusion of the battle will erect a liberal democracy indistinguishable from the enlightened societies of Western Europe… right after the lion lays down with the lamb.

But here we have the simple situation of Turkey looking for excuses to flex their muscle — a very rich tradition that Turkey has. In fact, whenever they are bored they just start messing with their own, local Kurdish population and shelling free Kurdish peoples in northern Iraq. It was only a matter of time before this would happen:

Turkey has fired into Syria for a fourth day after a Syrian mortar landed near a Turkish village, reports say.

Turkish troops responded immediately after the mortar landed near the village of Guvecci in Hatay province, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

Turkey has been firing into Syria since Syrian mortar fire killed five Turkish civilians on Wednesday.

It was the first time Turkey has taken military action across the border since the Syrian uprising began.

Early on Saturday, the Anadolu Agency said the Syrian mortar had landed over the border during intense fighting between government troops and rebels in Syria’s Idlib province.

The rebels are fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in an uprising that began in March last year.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Turkish side.

Following the killing of two women and three children in the Turkish border town of Akcakale this week, Turkey’s parliament authorised troops to launch cross-border operations against Syria and strike at Syrian targets for a period of one year.

The UN Security Council said the incident showed the “grave impact” of the Syrian crisis on “regional peace and stability”.

 BBC

As it stands, nobody knows whether or not these mortars were fired by the FSA or the Syrian Army. One could even go as far as to say that such things are almost even unknowable. 

The moderate, rational… calculated response in these circumstances would merely be vigilant and quite aware of the fact that there is a civil war raging in the south. But Turkey has essentially even allowed the Syrian rebels to come and organize on their soil (!!!)… So, naturally, as strays cross borders the Turks do anything they can to help their dog in this fight.

God knows that in the realm of real politik everything is just an effort from different countries to establish leverage and influence over one another — poor Assad did not play ball with enough people and is now paying the price of being globally reviled and condemned.

I just wish the civil war could be resolved as opposed to having foreign influences constantly doing their best to prop up the FSA.

LAPD Won’t Turn Over Some Illegals…

The job of the police is, essentially, the enforcement of laws. This has always resulted in them being unpopular and middle class white people enjoy mimicking the criminal classes and showing their own general detestation towards the Police in what usually is a very comical display. I will never get sick of hearing middle class people whose only run ins with law enforcement are speeding tickets telling me how much they dislike the Police…

But it seems the Police these days really want to be our buddies:

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, announcing Thursday that hundreds of illegal immigrants arrested by his officers each year in low-level crimes would no longer be turned over to federal authorities for deportation, said he believes the change will help his department’s crime-fighting efforts.

“It strikes me as somebody who runs a police department that is 45% Hispanic and polices a city that is at least that, that we need to build trust in these communities and we need to build cooperation or we won’t be prepared,” Beck said.

The new rules, which are expected to affect about 400 people arrested each year, mark a dramatic attempt by the nation’s second-largest police department to distance itself from federal immigration policies that Beck says are unfair to undocumented immigrants suspected of committing petty offenses.

It’s the latest in a series of moves by Beck to redefine the Los Angeles Police Department’s position on immigration issues. Earlier this year, the chief pushed through a controversial plan that limits the cases in which police officers impound vehicles of drivers operating without a license — a group consisting largely of illegal immigrants. And he came out in favor of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Those earlier forays into the contentious arena of immigration policy won praise from some, but criticism from others who said Beck was going soft on the rule of law.

The chief said he hopes to have the new rules in place by the start of the new year. They first must be approved by the Police Commission, a civilian oversight board.

 LA Times

Whether we like it or not it is the job and the role of the police to enforce laws; it makes no sense that they can pick and choose what they enforce. Police are not politicians and shouldn’t be given the right to act like politicians having influence of our laws. It is also important to remember that most people, in their lives, do not go around committing ‘petty crimes.’ Petty crimes are not so petty and small and overlookable… Otherwise, would they be crimes? I would be curious to know what these so called petty crimes actually are…

There is also something entertaining with the idea of wanting to establish a sort of rapport with the illegal immigrants of the community in order to catch more criminals. Aren’t these the people you should also be taking care of — as in, sending off? Of course, the issue is not quite that black and white because decades of government incompetence have allowed for the wound that is immigration policy to fester…

If we take one gander at Korea (and many other nations in the East) we can immediately observe that there is almost no way for someone who is an illegal to even really arrive, let alone function in the society… Yet the American government has an obsession with essentially allowing them to exist in our land — primarily for the purpose of exploiting their cheap labor and paying them even less. It is really an unfair deal where nobody wins… I try to even explain this to Koreans because it is a pretty difficult concept to understand for someone who is used to having a functional government.

This issue is one of the more insane points of American politics — the fact that we cannot even resolve the issue of immigration properly, and guard our borders well.

Certainly the reformation of immigration laws can be discussed and perhaps it should occur, but the idea of allowing millions of people go about undocumented and thus be more susceptible to exploitation is not helping anybody.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A North Korean soldier killed two of his officers Saturday and defected to South Korea across the countries’ heavily armed border in a rare crossing that prompted South Korean troops to immediately beef up their border patrol, officials said.

The soldier shot his platoon and company commanders before crossing the western side of the Demilitarized Zone at around noon, a Defense Ministry official said, citing the soldier’s statement after he was taken into custody by South Korean border guards.

The official declined to be named because questioning by authorities was ongoing. He said the soldier used a loudspeaker to let South Korean border guards know his intention to defect after the killings. The official said the motive behind the defection was unclear.

USA Today

Of course you are going to defect — you only have one life to live, and you have no interest in spending it in North Korea of all places.

Climate Change May Shrink Fish Size 24%

Fish species are expected to shrink in size by up to 24% because of global warming, say scientists.

Researchers modelled the impact of rising temperatures on more than 600 species between 2001 and 2050.

Warmer waters could decrease ocean oxygen levels and significantly reduce fish body weight.

The scientists argue that failure to control greenhouse gas emissions will have a greater impact on marine ecosystems than previously thought.

Previous research has suggested that changing ocean temperatures would impact both the distribution and the reproductive abilities of many species of fish. This new work suggests that fish size would also be heavily impacted.

The researchers built a model to see how fish would react to lower levels of oxygen in the water. They used data from one of the higher emissions scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

BBC

Many countries are going to be very negatively affected by all of the global warming. Especially many island nations in Asia.

It really is going to be a big deal — and the facts are becoming more and more evident.

Venezuelan Election Violence

I do not understand how Chavez has a “democratic society” in which people begin getting arbitrarily shot down during the campaigns thereof… Or is Venezuela just plagued by such an absurd amount of violence one could pretend that, in the West, where elections are notoriously calm, they are overflowing with violence?

CARACAS, Venezuela — At least two supporters of the opposition candidate in Venezuela’s presidential election were shot to death on Saturday, raising tensions as the campaign enters its final week.

Opposition officials said the two were shot in a confrontation with supporters of President Hugo Chávez, who is seeking re-election. The shooting occurred in Barinas, the state where Mr. Chávez was born and where he maintains strong support.

“Our people are tired of violence, of division, of confrontation,” said the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, at a huge march that filled the streets of Caracas on Sunday. “There was no reason that these three young people had to fall, a result of the intolerance of a few.”

He vowed to “defeat violence” in the election on Oct. 7.

Mr. Capriles referred to three deaths in his remarks, but the authorities have only reported that two people were killed. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Mr. Chávez, who has been in office for nearly 14 years, is seeking a new 6-year term. Mr. Capriles has mounted the strongest challenge to Mr. Chávez in years, tapping into widespread frustration with government inefficiency and corruption.

 New York Times

The fact that the number is disputed is very telling. The government likes to minimize the numbers and not count some aspect — of course, the potential that the opposition is lying also exists but in the contest of Hugo Chavez’s words that is rather meaningless.

I also like the fact that Chavez, in spite of failing health and already ruling the country for 14 years, is going for yet another six year term… This, of course, in a time when he has done his best to help make the education system create “new citizens” for the society and has tried to wrest control of every aspect of the media into his power…

Well, the comedy continues, and people are being shot.

Korean Exports Falling

South Korea’s exports fell for a third month as Europe’s debt crisis and gains in the won damped demand, keeping pressure on the central bank to cut interest rates this month.

Overseas shipments fell 1.8 percent in September from a year earlier, after a 6.2 percent decline in August, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 12 economists was for a 5.5 percent decline.

Overseas shipments fell 1.8 percent in September from a year earlier, after a 6.2 percent decline in August, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korean officials are trying to support growth in Asia’s fourth-largest economy ahead of the presidential election in December. Industrial production that fell more than expected in August also bolsters the view that more stimulus is needed even after the central bank cut rates in July and the government provided spending and tax incentives.

“Weaker external demand and a stronger Korean won suggest exports will continue to decline,” Kwon Young Sun, a Hong Kong- based economist at Nomura International Ltd., said before the release. “We believe the Bank of Korea will take this into account when making its policy rate decision.”

South Korea’s won touched an 11-month high of 1,110.55 per dollar on Sept. 28, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Kospi stock index rose 0.4 percent.

First, we all have to understand that “Ministry Of Knowledge Economy” is by far the funniest name I have heard for a foreign government’s ministry. The Korean name for this organization is 지식경제부and literally does translate into”Knowledge Economy Ministry.” The fact that there was some idiot who thought a good idea would be to just directly translate it across into what we are reading now… Well, ha…

But on with the economy:

Imports fell 6.1 percent from a year earlier in September, the ministry said today. That compared with the 9.5 percent decline projected in a Bloomberg survey. The trade surplus was $3.1 billion after a $2 billion excess in August.

The nation’s industrial production fell 0.7 percent in August for the third monthly drop, after it fell 1.9 percent in July, Statistics Korea said on Sept. 28.

Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has clouded the outlook for South Korean companies such as Hyundai Motor Co., the country’s largest carmaker. The Seoul-based firm is holding off on any major expansion in the region, European Chief Operating Officer Allan Rushforth said in an interview last month.

“There is a sustained weakness in demand for Korean goods on both domestic and external fronts,” Ronald Man, a Hong Kong based economist at HSBC Holdings Plc, said before the release. “This is causing firms to push back investment in response to excess capacity. As such, downside risks to overall GDP growth are increasing.”

Bloomberg

Continued decline seems to be as one would expect, and the fact that the Korean won has gotten stronger after the Chinese have been continuously doubting the American currency is not a huge surprise.

Overall this is not good news but not terrible news… Who knows what the long term implications for all of this might be. If Europe continues down the same path, and so does America, there could be some major issues facing even the longterm Korean growth.

And that is even without considering what could be happening in relation with the continuous growth of the Chinese economy that could overshadow the Korean manufacturers and producers.

Although it can be said definitely that the Korean skill in cell phone and LCD screens for televisions cannot be questioned, they make infamously shoddy cars and other products are not particularly well known either. The idea that the continuously growing Chinese economy will not be able to at some point take more of a toll on the Korean economy, and begin taking more of their market share, is dubious at best… It is wishful thinking on behalf of many.

I would be curious to see what economists think in the long run concerning the topic of the Chinese influence on the South Korean economy.

So I dug around and found a piece that provides us with a rather grim portral of the “Korean” economies of Asia (ASEAN and even Japan can be considered as such in the face of a continually growing China). Have a read at the dour news here.

Romney Questions Obamas Values In Foreign Policy

Foreign policy is either dreadfully overlooked or misunderstood in the realm of American politics over the last decade. It was Clinton who knew that in the absence of the Soviet Union there was no need for focusing on a campaign that involved necessarily pulling at the heart strings of Americans, or appealing to them in the sense of having some sort of important international role…

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Words that  belie the truth of the matter that now the average Americans have no real sense of what it should mean being the most powerful democratic nation in the world… Or, at least, what it should imply. One can be incredibly skeptical of the American Republic and democracy in general as a value but if one were to truly believe in it… Well, this move of Romney would have an appeal:

Romney on Sunday wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal outlining a foreign policy critique he first made at campaign events following an attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador. Romney is accusing the Obama administration of minimizing the seriousness of that attack and the other threats facing the U.S. in the region.

Romney writes, quote, “our values have been misapplied — and misunderstood” by Obama. He also says Obama has distanced the U.S. from Israel.

AP Via Google

It is certainly true that what we’ve perceived as the American role in international affairs since WWII has been one of intervening for the sake of lessening major crisis throughout the world; it is true that there has always been some sort of view amongst Americans that our inherent role goes back to the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic ‘as He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.’

But naturally such words have no appeal in a time of gross skepticism where every foray into foreign lands is portrayed as motivated purely by selfish interest. Admittedly, such a thing is partly true. Or at least could be true or even could be wholely true; there is now ay that we will understand the motivations of Washington as it is always free to the speculation of others.

I’ve always tried to be on the side of caution and, even though I acknowledge the reasoning which suggests man is at least part evil, as there is some truth in it. It is easy to see that people are often motivated by the desire of things and not necessarily the noble desire for higher values… there does seem to be at least a motivation to do good amongst the Republicans who want to be more active in foreign affairs. If you do at least listen to what they say there is this view that America’s role in foreign policy can be one of greatness through proper influence…

If we summarize the Obama administration’s concept of foreign policy we do not get much beyond the idea that the American expeditions abroad have been wasteful and that Americans shouldn’t be there;  and here comes the policy of retreat from battle when the job is not even completed — a fact that leads to more loss of life of Iraqis, one of the original reasons why this invasion was supposed to be so bad. It is creating an even more destabilized middle east and an Iraq that potentially other Middle East powers can manipulate at will… Not to mention: a continued lack of true democracy in the long run.

If Obama’s goal was to create a hotbed for radical Islam to replace Afghanistan, which we have been  continually attempting to clear, he is doing a superb job of it.

Not to mention the general departure from the American view of oneself as having a positive influence abroad but instead heeding the cautionary tales of Europeans  who’d rather have corrupt powers grow and blossom while doing business with them… A policy that I have never quite understood but I certainly would like to have explained to me… Slowly if necessary. And hopefully it has a bit more zing to it than some mumbling about ‘peace’ as an abstract concept to be prioritized highest of all…

(I apologize for the rambling nature of this — I just do not have the time for a better organized essay.)