Archive for December, 2011

Vaclav Havel: from prisoner to president to hero of the Cold War (Seattle Times)

Posted by aifkod on December 31, 2011

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Int’l court refuses to halt Rwandan’s release (AP)

Posted by aifkod on December 31, 2011

THE HAGUE, Netherlands ? International Criminal Court judges refused Monday to block the release of a Rwandan rebel prosecutors accuse of involvement in deadly attacks by a Hutu militia on villages in Congo in 2009.

The judges ordered the release of Callixte Mbarushimana on Friday after dismissing all charges against him for lack of evidence.

Prosecutors immediately said they would appeal the ruling and asked the court to delay Mbarushimana’s release pending the outcome.

But in Monday’s written decision judges ruled that Mbarushimana can no longer be detained because the 11 charges against him have been dismissed.

“A warrant of arrest previously issued ceases to have effect with respect to any charges not confirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber,” the judges wrote.

Mbarushimana has asked to be released to France, where he lived before his arrest in October 2010.

“We need to contact French authorities and see if they accept him,” said court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah.

It was not immediately clear if prosecutors would ? or could ? take any further steps to block Mbarushimana’s release.

If he is freed, Mbarushimana would be the first suspect released from ICC custody since the court’s inception in 2002.

Prosecutors accused him of being a senior member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym the FDLR. The group is accused of unleashing savage attacks on civilians in the North and South Kivu provinces of Congo as a “bargaining tool” to win power.

The case against Mbarushimana was unusual as it alleged his role in the attacks was to orchestrate “an international campaign of propaganda and extortion” to force Rwanda to accept the return of the rebels who had fled the country after its 1994 genocide.

In a majority decision last week, a three-judge panel that heard a summary of evidence at a hearing in September ruled that it was “not sufficient to establish substantial grounds to believe that the Suspect encouraged the troops’ morale through his press releases and radio messages.”

He faced 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape and persecution but always maintained his innocence.

The FDLR was established by former guerrillas accused of genocide in Rwanda’s 1994 ethnic slaughter. After moving to Congo, the FDLR launched attacks on Rwanda aimed at ousting the government in Kigali.

Knowing they could not win a conventional military campaign, they went on a yearlong killing spree in Congo that left hundreds dead and forced thousands from their homes.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111219/ap_on_re_eu/eu_international_court_congo

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Video: Can hot seat get any hotter for Spagnuolo?

Posted by aifkod on December 31, 2011

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Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/21134540/vp/45740400#45740400

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At Town Hall, Perry Becomes Confrontational (Atlantic Politics Channel)

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

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White House: GOP risking tax hikes on middle class (AP)

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

WASHINGTON ? The White House says House Republican leaders are risking serious danger to the U.S. economy by opposing a Senate bill that extends payroll tax cuts for two months.

Communications director Dan Pfeiffer says House Speaker John Boehner reversed his position on the Senate bill because of a “tea party revolt.” Pfeiffer says Boehner would bear the responsibility for increasing taxes on 160 million Americans if the cuts are allowed to expire at the end of the year.

The House is scheduled to vote on the Senate bill late Monday, though the measure is expected to fail. However, Pfeiffer says there is still a good opportunity for the bill to pass if a few dozen Republicans vote for it.

Pfeiffer spoke during an interview on MSNBC.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/business/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111219/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_white_house_payroll_tax

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British Telecom is the latest to sue Google over Android, other services

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

Another day, another patent lawsuit against Google. FOSS Patents reports British Telecom filed suit Thursday in Delaware over six of its patents it says Google is infringing upon with Android and other services like Maps and Music. Feel free to avail yourself of the text of the suit embedded after the break, which is heavy on terms like “telecommunications apparatus and method” and “navigation information system”. We’re not hearing any official response from Mountain View yet, but until we do you can probably pencil in platitudes about innovation and bogus patents.

Continue reading British Telecom is the latest to sue Google over Android, other services

British Telecom is the latest to sue Google over Android, other services originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 18 Dec 2011 16:55:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/18/british-telecom-is-the-latest-to-sue-google-over-android-other/

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Epson VS315W Multimedia Projector

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

The Epson VS315W Multimedia Projector ($529.99 direct) is easy to set up and use, is inexpensive for its WXGA resolution, and its data image quality is solid. Its feature set and connection choices, on the other hand, are fairly sparse. The lack of a carrying case as well as a port enabling you to run a presentation off of a USB thumb drive hinders its use for road warriors, and it?s one of the few WXGA projectors we?ve seen recently that lacks an HDMI-in port.

The Epson VS315W is based on 3LCD technology, which was developed by Epson and employs three LCD panels, each of which processes light of a different primary color. This projector?s WXGA (1,280 by 800 pixel) native resolution is compatible with widescreen laptops with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

Its 2,600 lumens of rated brightness is on the low side for a WXGA projector, as most of today?s models run at least 3,000 lumens. The Optoma TW762 ($1,100 street, 3 stars) rates 4,000 lumens, and others are even brighter. ?However, the NEC NP-M260W ($850 street, 4 stars) WXGA projector, which matches the VS315W?s 2,600 lumens, earned a PCMag Editors? Choice in September, as its features and image quality made up for its relatively modest rated brightness. (Keep in mind, too, that brightness is measured on a logarithmic scale, so it takes a lot more than doubling the number of lumens to double the actual brightness of the projector.)

While the NEC MP-M260W provides an abundance of connection choices, the VS315W has a sparse assortment of ports: VGA-in; S-video; 3 RCA jacks for composite video; and a USB type B port for connecting to a computer to enable USB Plug ?n Play operation. The most notable absences are HDMI-in (which has become commonplace if not standard on WXGA projectors and is even appearing on lower-resolution projectors) and a USB type A port for running a presentation off of a USB thumb drive.

The VS315W, white and brown with rounded corners, is reasonably light at 5.1 pounds and measures 3 by 11.6 by 9 inches, so it?s easy enough to lug around, though as it lacks a port for a USB key you will have to bring your computer with you to run a presentation from. The VS315W lacks a carrying case, so you?ll either have to use it in one location, get a case, or handle the projector with extreme care.

The USB Plug ?n Play makes the VS315W easy to connect to a computer, and the unit provides vertical keystone correction. I was able to project a 60 inch diagonal image from about 7 feet away, and it was bright enough to hold up to ambient light in a small room.

Image and Video Testing

In testing using the DisplayMate software test suite, data image quality was reasonably solid. Some bright areas showed yellow fringing, and some hatched patterns displayed slight pixel jitter. Overall image quality was fine for typical business presentations.

Video quality, in our test scenes from Terminator 2 and The West Wing, wasn?t as good. Detail was frequently lost in bright areas, and colors in some scenes were on the pale side. Moving objects sometimes had a rough, almost jagged look. The projector?s single built-in 1-watt speaker provides audio of decent quality but low volume, good enough for a small room.

The VS315W is adequate for showing short video clips as part a presentation, but I?d hesitate in using it for longer clips, let alone movies.

The Epson VS315W Multimedia Projector is of fairly low price for a WXGA projector, but lacks features of its more expensive brethren such as the Epson EX7200 ($749.99 direct, 4 stars) or the NEC NP-M260W such as HDMI input, port for a USB thumb drive, and a carrying case.? If you don?t need them?if you don?t plan on lugging the projector to different locations, for one thing?the VS315W is a lower-priced alternative that is easily good enough to do justice to typical business presentations.

More Projector Reviews:

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Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ziffdavis/pcmag/~3/7p5R0Cmj4nE/0,2817,2397708,00.asp

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Caterpillars mimic one another for survival

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

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Source: http://www.labspaces.net/116117/Caterpillars_mimic_one_another_for_survival

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Overhead Bin – Business travel outlook: Meetings to be shorter …

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

By Jane Levere, msnbc.com contributor

Although planning professionals expect an increase in the number of business meetings next year, they predict them to be shorter, smaller, busier and closer to home, according to a survey recently released by the meetings and events division of American Express.

Among the findings from the meeting planners, buyers and hotel suppliers who were polled:

  • 60 percent expect the number of meetings to increase in 2012;
  • 40 percent of hotel suppliers said the number of attendees per meeting will likely decrease;
  • 33 percent of hotel suppliers predicted the length of meetings will decrease because of a “demand to do more with less,”?American Express said;
  • 53 percent of meeting suppliers predicted meetings would be held closer to businesses conducting them in order to cut costs.

Moreover, business travelers increasingly opted for coach over premium seats in October ??a move aimed at cutting costs in a tough global economic period, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The number of passengers traveling premium (first and business class) on international flights fell sharply in October, rising only 0.1 percent from the same month last year, against year-on-year growth for September of 6.7 percent, IATA said.?

“We interpret this as being mostly due to business travelers shifting to cheaper seats, since in October economy travel was up 4 percent on last year,” IATA said in its monthly premium traffic monitor.?

Authors of the American Express survey predict the North American meetings market in particular would continue to grow in 2012, as it did this year, and that strong demand for mid-price hotels also would continue.?

“Companies are keen to avoid the perception of excessive spending on events, and many companies are following the pharmaceutical industry?s lead by incorporating a code of compliance that limits the use of five-star properties, or those with certain resort-type amenities” like a golf course or spa, authors of the survey wrote.?

The company also predicted large cities would “still dominate” as the site for North American meetings in 2012 while “second-tier cities remain attractive from a price perspective, they offer fewer facilities to accommodate events and may require additional travel time for attendees.”?

Chris Meyer, vice president of sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said his city ? long a popular site for meetings and conventions ? in 2011 will experience more a 3- to 4- percent jump in the number of conventions held and a 10-percent jump in delegates attending, a trend he expects will continue in 2012.

One factor is what he called a “rebalancing” between large trade shows and individual meetings, with fewer of the former scheduled in 2012. Industries whose meetings were curtailed by the recession? such as financial services, banking, insurance, automotive and technology ? began holding them again in late 2009, a trend he said picked up in 2010, was “very, very strong” in 2011, and is expected to continue next year.

Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, called the American Express forecast “good news for destinations that have the right mix of affordable air fares and hotels with available rooms and meeting facilities. It?s a sign of optimism about the economy and business in general, because meetings are one of the first things to be cut when business conditions are bad and one of the last things to be restored as business conditions improve.”

However, he said American Express? findings also indicate that companies holding meetings and conventions “are not opening the water faucet to full blast in terms of spending and the number of people attending and what they can do.”

American Express? bullish forecast for large cities “bodes well” for destinations like New York, San Francisco and Miami, and cities with major airline hubs like Atlanta, Chicago and Houston, Harteveldt added.

He warned, though, that meeting planners likely will book hotels closer to the date they will occur, which could mean for the “regular traveler that the hotel you thought would be available could get booked up.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

More stories you might like:

Source: http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/18/9497748-business-travel-outlook-meetings-to-be-shorter-smaller-closer-to-home

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Last U.S. troops leave Iraq, ending war (Reuters)

Posted by aifkod on December 30, 2011

BAGHDAD (Reuters) ? The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, ending nearly nine years of war that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and left a country still grappling with political uncertainty.

The war launched in March 2003 with missiles striking Baghdad to oust dictator Saddam Hussein closes with a fragile democracy still facing insurgents, sectarian tensions and the challenge of defining its place in the Arab region.

The final column of around 100 mostly U.S. military MRAP armored vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled across the southern Iraq desert through the night along an empty highway and across the Kuwaiti border.

Honking their horns, the last batch of around 25 American military trucks and tractor trailers carrying Bradley fighting vehicles crossed the border early on Sunday, their crews waving at fellow troops along the route.

“I just can’t wait to call my wife and kids and let them know I am safe,” Rodolfo Ruiz said as the border came into sight. Soon afterwards, he told his men the mission was over, “Hey guys, you made it.”

For President Barack Obama, the military pullout is the fulfillment of an election promise to bring troops home from a conflict inherited from his predecessor, the most unpopular war since Vietnam and one that tainted America’s standing worldwide.

For Iraqis, the U.S. departure brings a sense of sovereignty but feeds nagging fears their country may slide once again into the kind of sectarian violence that killed thousands of people at its peak in 2006-2007.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government still struggles with a delicate power-sharing arrangement between Shi’ite, Kurdish and Sunni parties, leaving Iraq vulnerable to meddling by Sunni Arab nations and Shi’ite Iran.

The intensity of violence and suicide bombings has subsided. But a stubborn Sunni Islamist insurgency and rival Shi’ite militias remain a threat, carrying out almost daily attacks, often on Iraqi government and security officials.

Iraq says its forces can contain the violence but they lack capabilities in areas such as air defense and intelligence gathering. A deal for several thousand U.S. troops to stay on as trainers fell apart over the sensitive issue of legal immunity.

For many Iraqis security remains a worry – but no more than jobs and getting access to power in a country whose national grid provides only a few hours of electricity a day despite massive oil potential in the OPEC country.

“We don’t think about America… We think about electricity, jobs, our oil, our daily problems,” said Abbas Jaber, a government employee in Baghdad. “They left chaos.”


After Obama announced in October that troops would come home by the end of the year as scheduled, the number of U.S. military bases was whittled down quickly as hundreds of troops and trucks carrying equipment headed south to the Kuwaiti border.

U.S. forces, which had ended combat missions in 2010, paid $100,000 a month to tribal sheikhs to secure stretches of the highways leading south to reduce the risk of roadside bombings and attacks on the last convoys.

At the height of the war, more than 170,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq at more than 500 bases. By Saturday, there were fewer than 3,000 troops, and one base.

At COB Adder, as dusk fell before the departure of the last convoy, one group of soldiers slapped barbecue sauce on slabs of ribs brought in from Kuwait and laid them on grills alongside hotdogs and sausages.

The last troops flicked on the lights studding their MRAP vehicles and stacked flak jackets and helmets in neat piles, ready for the final departure for Kuwait and then home.

“A good chunk of me is happy to leave. I spent 31 months in this country,” said Sgt. Steven Schirmer, 25, after three tours of Iraq since 2007. “It almost seems I can have a life now, though I know I am probably going to Afghanistan in 2013. Once these wars end I wonder what I will end up doing.”


U.S. and foreign companies are already helping Iraq develop the vast potential of the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, but its economy needs investment in all sectors, from hospitals to infrastructure.

Iran and Turkey, major investors in Iraq, will be watching with Gulf nations to see how it handles its sectarian and ethnic tensions, as the crisis in neighboring Syria threatens to spill over its borders.

The fall of Saddam allowed the long-suppressed Shi’ite majority to rise to power. The Shi’ite-led government has drawn the country closer to neighboring Iran and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who is struggling to put down a nine-month uprising.

Iraq’s Sunni minority are chafing under what they see as the

increasingly authoritarian control of Maliki’s Shi’ite coalition. Some local leaders are already pushing mainly Sunni provinces to demand more autonomy from Baghdad.

The main Sunni political bloc Iraqiya said on Saturday that it was temporarily suspending its participation in the parliament to protest against what it said was Maliki’s unwillingness to deliver on power-sharing.

A dispute between the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and Maliki’s central government over oil and territory is also brewing, and is a potential flashpoint after the buffer of the American military presence is gone.

“There is little to suggest that Iraq’s government will manage — or be willing to — get itself out of the current stalemate,” said Gala Riani, an analyst at IHS Global Insight.

“The perennial divisive issues that have become part of the fabric of Iraqi politics, such as divisions with Kurdistan and Sunni suspicions of the government, are also likely to persist.”

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111218/wl_nm/us_iraq_withdrawal

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