|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
Friday, September 05, 2003
Gunman Wounds 3 at Iraq Mosque
: "Early Thursday at the Kadhimiya mosque, which is in a large Shiite district of Baghdad, a strange series of events unfolded. A car drove to the front of the mosque and shots were fired. Then Iraqi guards at the mosque caught two men trying to smuggle a grenade inside, witnesses said.
As Iraqi police wrestled the suspects into a squad car, someone fired shots from a nearby building. Later, Shiite vigilantes roaming the perimeter of the mosque seized two men, an Iraqi and an Egyptian, carrying pistols and forged passports with Syrian exit stamps.
"None of these people were Shiites," said Ali Saheb, the chief mosque guard. "We think some Sunnis are trying to upset us and get us to fight. That way, the Americans would not be able to control Iraq at all." 10:27:35 PM
Friedman: 52 to 48
: On an Arab satellite TV talent show "the Jordanian singer won through a vote over the Internet. 4.5 million people voted. People went wild in the streets till the early hours of the morning. ... The Arab basement can change!'' Rami Khouri, editor of The Beirut Daily Star, echoed that theme: ``This was a fascinating example of how the power of technology - in this case satellite television, Internet and cellphones - can tap sentiments and prompt people to action.'' But what was even more striking, Mr. Khouri said, was the Jordanian singer's victory margin. She won by only 52 to 48 percent in a region where presidents always win by ``99 percent.'' ..
In the Arab world, where few can speak freely, let alone vote, satellite TV is becoming a virtual Democracy Wall. ``They're the only opening, so people try to push as much through them as they can,'' said Marwan Bishara, a politics lecturer at the American University of Paris.
Technology, though, still can't trump two huge impedients to Arab democracy. One is the lack of institutions to ensure a peaceful rotation of power. ``In too many countries there is still a tradition of rule or die - either my group or tribe is in power or it's exposed to great danger, so you must never give up power,'' noted Michael Mandelbaum, author of ``The Ideas That Conquered the World.''
The other is that so many Arab economies are dominated by state oil revenues and state companies, with private enterprise very weak. Therefore, holding onto or being close to power are the only pathways to wealth. Control power, control wealth. ``It will be very hard to install lasting democracy in this region,'' Mr. Mandelbaum added, ``without institutions and economic reforms that guarantee that there is life after power and wealth without power.''
So yes, culture and historical legacies matter, but so, too, do new ideas and technologies.. " 10:13:07 PM
A 'Tale of Two Cities': Bridging the Digital Divide: Speech in India by president and CEO of Philips promotes Bottom of the Pyramid markets: "Let us see how widening access to technology for these people – by far the largest “new growth market” in human history – will in turn affect developed markets and perhaps solve some of the problems we face there. ..
A good example is the “Health Truck” developed by Philips and now in use in Argentina. In order to meet the health needs of impoverished areas of Argentina we provided a state of the art diagnostic clinic on wheels providing free CT scans that tours rural Argentina. This initiative brings advanced medical diagnosis to thousands of patients who would otherwise have no access to such benefits.
In the field of connectivity and consumer electronics, let me tell you about another initiative specifically designed to bring the urban poor of shantytowns and even more isolated rural areas into the digital community. Almost three billion people in these situations – many of them illiterate -- need to be able to communicate with family, employers and friends even though fixed line or wireless phones are way beyond their economic reach. Our solution is called “Voices in your Hand.” This project is already being tested in Recife, Brazil .. Using modified existing MP3 players that support voice recording and playback and carry a text free user interface, people can listen to personalised webcasts of audio information offline in their homes, talk back and use voice email. Then they visit a public utility point to link their sets to the Internet via USB. It’s not real-time or on-line, but remember you can buy 40 units for 40 families for the price of even the cheapest PC.
The availability of clean, safe drinking water is identified by the World Bank as the largest single factor affecting the health, wealth, and possibly the peace of humanity. .. it’s possible to have affordable, effective, small-scale water treatment at the astonishingly low cost of 10 US cents per villager per year using the Ultra Violet Waterworks (UVW) technology. The secret is to combine solar power, direct current and UV purification on a decentralised basis. Philips has all these technologies. Already, UVW systems are being tested around the world and one Indian organisation -- Ashok Gadgil – has shown the potential. ..
For those less wealthy, the model based around service rather than ownership is highly important whenever huge numbers of people require access to technology – not the device itself. In fact it’s probable that a ‘pay per use’ basis for technology will become just as common as “owning the box” and this will be the future business model for our industry.
A perfect example is the successful program of internet kiosks for rural areas here in India: it’s not necessary to own a computer to stay in touch. Likewise hospitals here in India (such as the facilities at and near Hyderabad and at Bangalore) have shown they are able to utilise diagnostic equipment such as CT scanners at very high rates, which make their use financially viable. .. Another important area in emerging markets is distance learning. .. Half of all households in India – that’s 100 million families - -do not yet have access to radio. We are already the largest suppliers of branded radios in the country. But if Philips could develop a radio that could be marketed for around R$s 200 – that’s around US$5 – we could enable huge numbers of people. " 12:03:14 PM
FBI Wants 4 Men for Questioning About Terrorism: "The FBI had been seeking information about all four -- two Saudis, a Moroccan and a Tunisian -- for months.. None of the four are believed to be in the United States.
The men being sought are Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 28, a Saudi native with ties to South Florida; Karim El Mejjati, 35, a Moroccan who holds a French passport and last entered the United States between 1997 and 1999; Zubayr Al-Rimi, 29, a Saudi; and Abderraouf Jdey, 38, a Tunisian who may have a Canadian passport.
Officials have previously described El Shukrijumah as a possible al-Qaida operational planner similar to Mohamed Atta, a key organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Jdey, who obtained Canadian citizenship in 1995, was among five men who left suicide messages on videotapes recovered in Afghanistan at the home of Mohammed Atef ..
The bulletin comes as the FBI raises concerns that terrorists might try to poison food or water supplies, and senior bureau officials say that al-Qaida is determined to attack Americans at home .. The FBI's latest weekly bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies cautions terrorists might use two naturally occurring toxins -- nicotine and solanine -- to poison U.S. food or water supplies. Nicotine is found in tobacco plants and solanine in potatoes that are old or have been exposed to sunlight for a long time.
The bulletin, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, says that terrorist manuals and documents recovered at al-Qaida sites in Afghanistan contain references to use of both substances as poisons.
The FBI said there are no known uses of either toxin by al-Qaida or other Islamic extremist groups, and there is no intelligence indicating such an attack is imminent. But the bulletin noted a Michigan man pleaded guilty in May to lacing 250 pounds of ground beef with an insecticide containing nicotine, sickening 92 people, in an attempt to get a supermarket co-worker in trouble. " 11:38:09 AM
Lost jobs aren't coming back:
"A new study by the McKinsey Global Institute, the think tank of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., suggests why. When a firm ships a $60-an-hour software job to a $6-an-hour code writer in India, the most obvious benefit goes to the Indian. But, the McKinsey study reports, the U.S. economy receives at least two-thirds of the benefit from offshore outsourcing, compared with the third gained by the lower-wage countries receiving the jobs.
American firms and consumers enjoy reduced costs. Larger profits can be reinvested in more innovative businesses at home. New and expanding subcontractors abroad create new markets for U.S. products. And, at least theoretically, displaced U.S. workers will find new jobs in more dynamic industries.
Forrester Research Inc., a trend-analysis firm, has predicted that 3.3 million U.S. jobs will be shipped overseas by 2015, adding that those jobs are not just assembly-line work but increasingly are white-collar positions. About 200,000 service-sector jobs will be lost each year over the next decade, Forrester predicts." 11:29:40 AM
U.S. Employers Shed 93,000 Jobs in August:
" .. the total job loss since January to almost 600,000.. In the second quarter, gains in productivity, the amount of goods and services produced for each hour worked, rose at a 6.8 percent annual rate in the non-farm business portion of the economy. That burst of efficiency came as production rose at a 4.4 percent annual rate, the number of hours worked fell at a 2.3 percent rate and the cost of labor for each unit of production fell at a 2.8 percent rate.
Production is rising even faster this quarter than last, according to many forecasters, while today's report showed that hours worked fell faster in July and August than they did in the April-June period. That combination points to another huge gain in productivity..." 11:21:38 AM
Thursday, September 04, 2003
A Slap on the Wrist
: "Jakarta Justice: The Bush administration may have been disappointed at the light sentence handed down to Muslim cleric and suspected Indonesian terrorist leader Abu Bakar Bashir on Tuesday in Jakarta, but to anyone familiar with Indonesia the verdict came as little surprise..." 9:00:11 AM
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
City of Berkeley Converts Fleet to 100 Percent Biodiesel
: "The City of Berkeley will celebrate a milestone on June 24, 2003 at the City's Biodiesel Vehicle Exhibit recognizing Berkeley's conversion to 100% Biodiesel diesel vehicles. The conversion has been in place for the last six months and is now planned for the long term. To the best of its knowledge, Berkeley is the first city of its size in the country to convert to 100% Biodiesel for virtually an entire fleet. " (180 diesel vehicles) 12:01:22 PM
New Solar-Powered Window System
: "The Dynamic Shading Window System (
DSWS) is made of clear plastic panels that fit in between two panes of glass. On each panel are dozens of small, pyramid-shaped units, or modules, made from semi- translucent focusing plastic lenses, that track the motion of the sun. Sensors, embedded in the walls or the roof, ensure that the units are always facing the sun to capture all incoming rays while at the same time deflecting harsh, unwanted rays from a building's interior. Each unit holds a miniaturized photovoltaic (PV), or solar-cell, device used to collect light and heat that is then transferred into useable energy to run the motors, also embedded in the building's interior walls. The remaining energy is used for heat, air conditioning, and artificial lighting. The surplus energy can be directly and automatically distributed through wires inside a building's walls, or can be stored in a group of batteries, for later use." 11:54:24 AM
Bin Laden bio-attack
?: "Osama bin Laden held a "terror summit" in Afghanistan to outline plans to use biological weapons in his next "unbelievable" attacks, according to Taliban sources quoted by Newsweek magazine on Sunday. .. "His priority is to use biological weapons," the source told the magazine, claiming the al-Qaeda network already had such arms but now was addressing how to transport and disperse them. .. "The plan was reported delayed and revised after the March capture of al-Qaeda operations chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan," Newsweek reported. " 8:59:07 AM
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Aftermath Essay -- June 2, 2003
: Provocative NewsHour essay on America in Iraq: "Somewhere on the desert tonight, I am certain of it, a young American soldier is momentarily entranced by some aspect of the world he has entered to convert. The music or the spices, the colors, the voices, the eyes. He will return home himself converted, because he has experienced an intimacy by which I mean he has eaten, he has looked, he has breathed.
Even as Washington plans to reconfigure the desert, the Middle East draws ever closer to the average American. Islam is now so much a part of the American imagination and the American landscape, it will be impossible hence forward for participants at a congressional prayer meeting not to name Islam along with Christianity or Judaism, for Islam is now a major faith of the American people.
And American college students who could not put their fingers on the capital of North Dakota, nevertheless are already able to distinguish the Kurdish north of Iraq from the Shiite south. The victor is always surprised. Who in France could have foretold that a result of French imperial ambitions in North Africa would be an Arabic Marseilles? " 7:49:15 PM