AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ & OTHER CONFLICTS
NC soldier, 23, was last US troop killed in Iraq
AP hosted by NBCNews.com; DON BABWIN, TOM BREEN
"David Emanuel Hickman. Doesn't that name just bring out a smile to your face?" said Logan Trainum, one of Hickman's closest friends, at the funeral where the soldier was laid to rest after a ceremony in a Greensboro church packed with friends and family.
Trainum says he's not spending time asking why Hickman died: "There aren't enough facts available for me to have a defined opinion about things. I'm just sad, and pray that my best friend didn't lay down his life for nothing."
He'd rather remember who Hickman was: A cutup who liked to joke around with friends. A physical fitness fanatic who half-kiddingly called himself "Zeus" because he had a body that would make the gods jealous. A ferocious outside linebacker at Northeast Guilford High School who was the linchpin of a defense so complicated they had to scrap it after he graduated because no other teenager could figure it out.
David Emanuel Hickman - the answer to John Kerry's famous question. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the start of the ever-misguided Iraq war.
North Korea cuts off hotline with South Korea
Retuers; Ju-min Park
North Korea has cut off a Red Cross hotline with South Korea as it escalates its war of words against Seoul and Washington in response to a military drill in the South and U.N. sanctions imposed for its recent nuclear test.
The North had threatened to cut off the hotline on March 11 if the United States and South Korea did not abandon their joint military exercise.
The Red Cross hotline is used to communicate between Seoul and Pyongyang which do not have diplomatic relations.
"We called at 9 a.m. and there was no response," a government official from South Korea said. The line is tested each day.
The article goes on to detail possible war scenarios. This is brought to you by the project of "Know who has nuclear weapons."
Afghan president accuses US forces of colluding with Taliban
Guardian; Emma Graham-Harrison
Strained US-Afghan ties have suffered a fresh blow after newly appointed US defence secretary Chuck Hagel cancelled plans for his first joint news conference with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the second reminder of serious tensions in a brief visit to Afghanistan.
US officials cited security concerns, but the decision came just hours after the Afghan leader accused America of colluding with the Taliban to keep foreign troops on Afghan soil. Afghan officials said the presidential palace, where the men planned to meet the press, was totally safe.
"It doesn't make any sense," said one Afghan official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to discuss the sensitive issue. "It was supposed to take place at the palace, we don't see any security problems there."
AROUND THE WORLD
Government issues warning to drought-ravaged farmers
New Zealand Herald; Kate Shuttleworth & Melissa Hills
Farmers must adapt their practices if droughts become more common rather than relying on state bailouts, the Government warns.
Acting Prime Minister Bill English said the Government would be unable to continuously help farmers facing drought,
His comments came this morning on TVNZ's Breakfast following claims by experts that the drought conditions, believed to be the worst in 70 years, will become more regular in the future.
As regions are declared in drought, financial support and funding for support groups is triggered.
This warning is not limited to New Zealand in its practical application.
New plan for city's beggars
The Age; Adrian Lowe
It's the issue that polarises opinion like few others: what should be done about begging in the city?
There's about to be a lot more activity on Melbourne's streets with a group of organisations, including the Melbourne City Council, the Salvation Army, Victoria Police and the Magistrates Court, working together to tackle begging.
Police will continue to charge people found begging alms and offer participation in a diversion program. Participants must attend court, and employment may be offered.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said beggars involved would go to the Salvation Army, or a similar organisation, for counselling, health checks and possible employment.
Will look forward to followup on this.
China calls for global hacking rules
NYT syndicated to Sydney Morning Herald; David Barboza
China issued a new call on Saturday for international "rules and cooperation" on Internet espionage issues, while insisting that allegations of Chinese government involvement in recent hacking attacks were falsified as part of an international smear campaign.
The remarks, by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, were China's highest level response yet to intensifying accusations that the Chinese military may be engaging in cyber espionage.
"Anyone who tries to fabricate or piece together a sensational story to serve a political motive will not be able to blacken the name of others nor whitewash themselves," he said.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the annual session of the National Peoples' Congress, Mr Yang said reports of Chinese government involvement in cyber espionage were "built on shaky ground" and that cyberspace should not be turned into a battlefield.
Offered without irony.
China invests in Nepal as gateway to India's huge markets
South China Morning Post; AFP
China's ambassador to Kathmandu was recently pictured in a traditional Nepali cap and silk scarf, digging with a spade to symbolise the laying of the foundations of a new dry port near the Tibet border.
The photo opportunity marked the latest in a series of major projects that underscore China's growing economic influence in Nepal, where it is building roads and investing billions of dollars.
Other Chinese projects in its impoverished, electricity-starved Himalayan neighbour include a US$1.6 billion hydropower plant which is expected to end power outages that extend to 14 hours a day in winter. Meanwhile China recently completed a 22-kilometre stretch of road in central Nepal connecting the country's southern plains with the Tibetan county of Kyirong, to form the shortest motorable overland route between China and India.
Indians trafficked into Britain for slavery
Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times
India is among the top 20 countries from where poor people are being trafficked into Britain to work in conditions of 21st century slavery, says a major new report that calls for the establishment of a British Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
Indians were among more than 1,000 trafficking
victims found last year, including a significant number of British children, says the report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) to be published on Monday. The influential think-tank is backed by a group of Conservative party MPs led by Works and Pensions Minister Ian Duncan Smith.
Gujarat's sprawling solar fields outpower rest of India, China
Times of India; Paul John
There is a dazzling field of mirrors that you can find near the vast saltpans of the Little Rann. It is like a sparkling oasis in the desert - much like a gleaming silver screen covering the vast desolate white sand around.
This is Charanka village in Patan, where over 2,965 acres, rows of photovoltaic cells or solar panels have been laid out to harness the sun. They are generating 214 MW of electricity every day-more than China's 200 MW Golmund Solar park.
The Gujarat government claims that nearly 17 private and state companies have pumped Rs 9,000 crore as investments in this park. Not surprisingly, land prices here have shot up. Former Charanka village sarpanch Barubhai Ahir says that till December 2009, when the project took off, land prices here were Rs 25,000 per acre. "Today just because of the solar park, a 1.5 kilometer periphery around the Charanka solar project would cost Rs 6 lakh per acre."
Issues with Pakistan will take time to resolve, says India
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that achieving success in efforts for resolving bilateral issues with Pakistan is "a time taking affair".
Addressing a ceremony in the Indian city of Ghaziabad on Sunday, Mr Khurshid said he would not be able to give a timeframe as to when official talks between the two nations could take place, The Indian Express reported, quoting Press Trust of India.
"Success (in issues related to India and Pakistan) is not achieved in a day or a moment. First the foundation is made and then we subsequently go ahead to create an edifice," he added.
This was the lead story at Dawn.com - I was hoping for insight into Pakistan's governmental stability, myself.
Iran's head under fire for 'hugging'
Hurriyet Daily News; possibly from Reuters.
Ahmadinejad has come under criticism over a picture that shows him holding the hands of Elena Frias, Chavez's mother, and comforting her during the March 8 funeral in Caracas. In the picture Frias is seen leaning on Ahmadinejad while they hold hands and appear to be crying. According to Islamic rules applied in Iran, unrelated men and women are not allowed to touch. Iranian officials and diplomats often bow instead of shaking hands with female foreign officials. Several conservative lawmakers have said that he violated Islamic norms, Radio Free Europe website reported.
World from Berlin: Friedrich 'Stoking Anti-Immigrant Sentiment'
Der Spiegel; Daryl Lindsey
Germany and a handful of EU countries have blocked Bulgaria and Romania from joining the Schengen Area of border-free travel. Editorialists at the Germany's left-leaning dailies are calling the move an election-year ploy on the part of conservatives in Berlin.
Bulgaria and Romania have been members of the European Union since 2007, but their accession into the Schengen Area of passport-free travel has once again been delayed over concerns in Berlin.
"The time isn't right," German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said in Brussels on Thursday. "There are still weaknesses -- especially when it comes to the reliability of the justice system, which prevent us from being able to say: Remove the border controls now." Friedrich had previously stated his intention to veto Schengen membership for the countries in a SPIEGEL interview.
Anti-immigrant attitudes: Worldwide phenomenon.
Only 15% of Argentines believe Falklands should decide their future but in UK, 88%
Only 15% of Argentines think Falkland Islanders should have a say in their own future, and a quarter still believe that the islands will one day be governed from Buenos Aires, but in the UK, 88% of British people said the Islanders should have a say on who ruled them.
Those answers, in an opinion poll conducted by YouGov for Sky News, come on the eve of a referendum in which Falkland Islanders will be asked whether they want to remain a British Overseas Territory.
It is expected to result in an overwhelming 'yes' vote, but the Islanders' enthusiasm for Britain doesn't seem to be reciprocated in the UK.
Self-determination: for whom shall this bell toll?
ACROSS THE USA
Register Investigation: 99.6% of Iowa gun permits approved
Des Mones Register hosted by Shreveport Times; Jason Clayworth
More than 148,000 people in Iowa applied for a permit to carry a weapon in public in the past two years, and 99.6 percent gained approval, a Des Moines Register investigation shows.
Public records from Iowa's 99 county sheriffs show that just 621 permit applications were denied during the first 24 months in which a state law - designed to give law enforcement officers little leeway in determining who is allowed to carry a weapon - was in effect.
The Register's statewide analysis of hundreds of public records is the first examination of how the new law is working. Even Iowa officials had been unable to determine what percentage of permits were granted, because the state does not keep track of denied permits.
Iowa has ~3 million people. Also, another example of bad data collection on gun stuff. I think the only good (as in well-documented) data we have is deaths caused by guns.
Amplified greenhouse effect shaping North into South
An international team of 21 authors from 17 institutions in seven countries has just published a study in the journal Nature Climate Change showing that, as the cover of snow and ice in the northern latitudes has diminished in recent years, the temperature over the northern land mass has increased at different rates during the four seasons, causing a reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality in this area. In other words, the temperature and vegetation at northern latitudes increasingly resembles those found several degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 30 years ago.
The NASA-funded study, based on newly improved ground and satellite data sets, examines critically the relationship between changes in temperature and vegetation productivity in northern latitudes. On the amplified greenhouse effect, Prof. Ranga Myneni, Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University and lead co-author says "A greenhouse effect initiated by increased atmospheric concentration of heat-trapping gasses-such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane-causes the Earth's surface and nearby air to warm. The warming reduces the extent of polar sea ice and snow cover on the large land mass that surrounds the Arctic ocean, thereby increasing the amount of solar energy absorbed by the no longer energy-reflecting surface. This sets in motion a cycle of positive reinforcement between warming and loss of sea ice and snow cover, thus amplifying the base greenhouse effect."
h/t Bill McKibben for the tweet.
Shannyn Moore: Alaska politicians stand in the way of protections
Anchorage Daily News: Shannyn Moore
The state of Alaska seems not to miss an opportunity to stop tribes from asserting jurisdiction over issues like Native adoption, alcohol control, subsistence hunting and fishing, etc. At every turn the state acts to circumscribe, as tightly as possible, the sovereignty of First Alaskans.
The difference between Alaska Natives and Native Americans is all about land. The Lower 48 has reservations. In Alaska, tribes don't have reservations, so they can't base claims of jurisdiction on reservation boundaries.
The worry for Alaskans like Parnell is: If we give Natives power over themselves, where will they stop? What if they don't like a certain resource development -- they might be able to get in the way. How could we let tribes enforce laws against non-Native predators? Oh, it could be a slippery slope, so let's prevent Native communities from enforcing state law, and then we'll pretend Alaska doesn't have the money to pay for troopers to do it instead.
This is vile. h/t to RL Miller for the tweet.
HERE IN UTAH
Anti-wolf group likely to get second $300,000 Utah payment
Salt Lake Tribune; Brian Maffley
A $300,000 line item to fund efforts to prevent wolves from being "reintroduced" in Utah as part of a federal gray wolf-recovery effort will be included in the budget headed for final votes in the next few days.
Democratic lawmakers on Friday unsuccessfully attempted to strip the money from the spending plan. Without debate, and on a party-line vote, the little-scrutinized project was adopted by the Legislature's Executive Appropriations Committee, made up of leaders of the House and Senate.
"It seems like a waste," said Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City. "It's another challenge to federal authority to protect wildlife. The problem isn't even here."
The $300,000 appropriation - the second in as many years for the anti-wolf campaign - was recommended by Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe.
Public money to a private lobbying group to kill an endangered species. And this isn't the craziest thing this week. Legislative session ends Thursday midnight.
Special Forces soldiers drop plan to 'infiltrate' Utah
Salt Lake Tribune; Kristen Moulton
Army Special Forces soldiers will not "infiltrate" Utah communities this summer - a plan that had riled residents suspicious of the government's motives.
Green Berets had planned to parachute into several central Utah counties, cross mountains and work with Utahns who would be playing roles as resisters to an enemy regime.
The Defense Department wants the soldiers to have fresh training in skills at the heart of Special Forces' mission, such as covertly cultivating relationships with regular citizens and training resistance forces trying to liberate themselves from oppressive governments, said Col. Robert Dunton, a special projects officer for the Utah National Guard who was helping organize the exercise.
The Manti City Council minutes are displayed in a graphic at the top of the article. The statements contained therein are as crazy as the comments for the article. In a different Trib article, it was hypothesized that Daylight Savings Time is a states rights issue.
The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution [Excerpt]
Scientific American; Keith Devlin
Before the 13th century Europeans used Roman numerals to do arithmetic. Leonardo of Pisa, better known today as Fibonacci, is largely responsible for the adoption of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in Europe, which revolutionized not only mathematics but commerce and trade as well. How did the system spread from the Arab world to Europe, and what would our lives be without it?
There is an excerpt of the book at the link. Here
is one review.
Here Is Some Pretty For You
The Panopticon; Franklin Habit
Last weekend I taught a day of lace (History, Methods and Styles of Lace followed by Lace Edgings: Before, During, and After) to a gung-ho group of students. One of them brought a surprise: a box of nineteenth-century knitted lace stockings.
I thought you might like to see them, and though I'm still learning to love the camera that lives in my new telephone I was able to take some tolerable photographs during our intermezzo.
ZOMG, please click through, or right-click, and scroll down. The year they were made is knitted in. I find these delicious!