Saturday, November 29, 2008
More than a decade ago, Napolitano was in a position to help curb Arpaio's excesses. As a U.S. attorney in 1995, she was put in charge of a Justice Department investigation into atrocious conditions in Arpaio's "tent city." Napolitano carried out her task with what can best be described as reluctance, going out of her way to protect Arpaio from flak almost before the probe had started. "We're doing this with the complete cooperation of the sheriff," she told the Associated Press. "We run a strict jail but a safe jail, and I haven't heard from anyone who thinks that this is a bad thing."
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The Justice Department's final report, issued about two years later, confirmed a list of disgraces, including excessive use of force, gratuitous use of pepper spray and "restraint chairs" (since blamed for at least three inmate deaths), and hog-tying and beating of inmates. It also said Arpaio's staffing was "below levels needed for safety and humane operations."
The Justice Department filed suit and settled with the sheriff the same day after Arpaio agreed to administrative changes, including limiting the use of pepper spray and improving inmate grievance procedures. Napolitano stood with Arpaio at a press conference in which she, according to the Arizona Republic, "pooh-poohed her own lawsuit as 'lawyerly paperwork.' " Arpaio called the result a vindication.
"Let me say this for the people of Maricopa County," he told the Republic. "The chain gangs stay. The tents stay. The pink underwear stays. All my programs stay. … This has nothing to do with my policies and programs."
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"The crude oil under Yasuni National Park is worth many billions of dollars," says Aguiñaga. In the summer of 2008, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa made a first attempt to protect the rainforest and resources. He proposed that Western and Ecuadoran taxpayers each foot half the bill for the decision not to tap crude oil reserves in the environmentally sensitive area. But the initiative never bore fruit.
Now Correa is under pressure to give in to the oil companies after all. Hoping to prevent this from happening, Aguiñaga submitted a new, and final, offer during a trip to Europe: that Ecuador be compensated mainly by Western companies, which could then sell the Yasuni oil in the virtual form of CO2 certificates.
~ more... ~
Opium production in Afghanistan has increased by 150% since a NATO-led security and development mission entered the country in 2001, Russia's Federal Drug Control Service said on Thursday.
"Afghanistan has become the absolute leader in narcotics production, producing 93% of the world's entire opiates... Afghan drug dealers have in two years set up the successful production of cannabis [marijuana, hashish] with over 70,000 hectares of land being cultivated, taking Afghanistan into second place in the world behind Morocco in terms of the cultivation of such drugs," the service said in a statement.
Since the Taliban regime was overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led campaign, Afghanistan, with almost all its arable land being used to grow opium poppies remains the world's leading producer of heroin.
According to the UN, Afghanistan's opium production increased from 6,100 tons in 2006 to 8,200 tons in 2007.
The narcotics trade has become an acute problem for the Central Asian republics due to a continual flow of illegal drugs from Afghanistan.
~ Ria Novoxsti ~
CNN: Let me jump in on that because you're presuming something very important, which is that it's Muslims who have carried out these attacks and, in some cases, with Washington in their sights.
Chopra: Ultimately the message is always toward Washington because it's also the perception that Washington, in their way, directly or indirectly funds both sides of the war on terror. They fund our side, then our petrol dollars going to Saudi Arabia through Pakistan and ultimately these terrorist groups, which are very organized. You know Jonathan, it takes a lot of money to do this. It takes a lot of organization to do this. Where's the money coming from, you know? The money is coming from the vested interests. I'm not talking about conspiracy theories, but what happens is, our policies, our foreign policies, actually perpetuate this problem. Because, you know, 25% of the world's population is Muslim and they're the fastest growing segment of the population of the world. The more we alienate the Muslim population, the more the moderates are likely to become extremists.
There are two principal forms of cochineal dye: cochineal extract is a colouring made from the raw dried and pulverised bodies of insects, and carmine is a more purified colouring made from the cochineal. To prepare carmine, the powdered insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt. Purity of colour is ensured by the absence of iron. Stannous chloride, citric acid, borax, or gelatin may be added to regulate the formation of the precipitate. For shades of purple, lime is added to the alum.
As of 2005, Peru produced 200 tonnes of cochineal dye per year and the Canary Islands produced 20 tonnes per year. Chile and Mexico have also recently begun to export cochineal. France is believed to be the world's largest importer of cochineal; Japan and Italy also import the insect. Much of these imports are processed and reexported to other developed economies. As of 2005, the market price of cochineal was between 50 and 80 USD per kilogram, while synthetic raw food dyes are available at prices as low as 10–20 USD per kilogram.
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When used as a food additive the dye must be included on packaging labels. Sometimes carmine is labelled as E120. An unknown percentage of people have been found to have allergies to carmine, ranging from mild cases of hives to atrial fibrillation and anaphylactic shock. Carmine has been found to cause asthma in some people. Cochineal is one of the colours that the Hyperactive Children's Support Group recommends be eliminated from the diet of hyperactive children. Natural carmine dye used in food and cosmetics can render it unacceptable to vegetarian (or vegan) consumers, and many Muslims and Jews consider carmine-containing food forbidden (haraam and treif) because the dye is extracted from insects.
Cochineal is one of the few water-soluble colourants that resist degradation with time. It is one of the most light- and heat-stable and oxidation-resistant of all the natural colourants and is even more stable than many synthetic food colours. The water-soluble form is used in alcoholic drinks with calcium carmine; the insoluble form is used in a wider variety of products. Together with ammonium carmine they can be found in meat, sausages, processed poultry products (meat products cannot be coloured in the United States unless they are labeled as such), surimi, marinades, alcoholic drinks, bakery products and toppings, cookies, desserts, icings, pie fillings, jams, preserves, gelatin desserts, juice beverages, varieties of cheddar cheese and other dairy products, sauces, and sweets. The average human consumes one to two drops of carminic acid each year with food.
Carmine is one of the very few pigments considered safe enough for use in eye cosmetics. A significant proportion of the insoluble carmine pigment produced is used in the cosmetics industry for hair- and skin-care products, lipsticks, face powders, rouges, and blushes. A bright red dye and the stain carmine used in microbiology is often made from the carmine extract, too. The pharmaceutical industry uses cochineal to colour pills and ointments.
According to the best-selling book by Eric Schlosser, Chew on This, the female bug feeds on cactus pads, and color from the cactus gathers in her body. The bugs are collected, dried, and ground into a coloring additive. It takes 70,000 of the insects to make a pound of carmine dye, as it is known. The Food & Drug Administration doesn't require that this cochineal be identified in the ingredients. Manufacturers simply identify it as an "artificial color."Whites of Their Dioxides
The next time you use Betty Crocker icing to frost your cake, or Kraft Cool Whip, remember the bright-white color doesn't come from vigorous whisking of cream and egg whites. Rather it comes from titanium dioxide, a mineral that is also used in house paints.
Yolk's on You
Like your eggs sunny-side up? What about the color?do you like them yellow or orange? You might not know it, but when farmers buy chicken feed for egg-laying hens, they have their pick from a color chart that goes from Nos. 1 to 15, coinciding with colors that change the yolks' shades from yellow to red. The yellow color comes from xanthophyll and carotenoids in the feed, which is absorbed through the hen's intestine, metabolized, and deposited in the egg yolk.
In an article, R. Scott Beyer, a poultry specialist from Kansas State University, noted that maximum color will be present 10 days after the hens are placed on feeds for yolk color.
Jell-O is the comfort food of generations. It's made of gelatin, which goes into making other products like yogurt and ice cream. Not many people know it, but it's made from a protein that is derived from prolonged boiling of animal skin, tissue, and bones.
Wonder why the foam in your beer stays that way? It's the propylene glycol alginate, of course! Cheers.
Carmine and cochineal extract are natural dyes that are added to many cosmetics, shampoos, food products and medications to give them a pink, magenta or red color. What is carmine and cochineal extract made out of? They are both made out of dried female cochineal beetles. It takes approximately 70,000 beetles to make one pound of carmine or cochineal extract. There you have it, beetle guts!
While shocking, it's perfectly legal, the paper reports. Foodmakers don't have to list the bug-based ingredient, because beetles are part of nature. Only man-made dyes, like FD&C Red No. 40, have to be listed.
But that may change soon. The Food and Drug Administration may recommend that companies list beetle additives as "carmine" or "cochineal."
Why? Using beetles in food proves problematic for vegetarians, people who keep kosher and for those with certain food allergies.
The public health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest has long asked the FDA to change the requirements for food labels so that they more clearly state ingredients that could conflict with people's diets or trigger allergies.
- More cool how to projects
* Yes Outsourcing to India is becoming too much of a risk
* Maybe It's too early to understand the implications
* No India is still the best location for offshore IT services
The caller greeted her with a torrent of racial and sexual slurs, accused her of "roaming about naked without food and clothes" and asked, "What do you know about computers?"
The diatribe ended with the comment:"This company is just saving money by outsourcing to Third World countries like yours."
Such telephone tirades are fueled by outrage over outsourcing, which is expected to move 3.4 million U.S. service-sector jobs overseas by 2015, according to the consultancy Forrester. Most of the work comes to India, where young, low-cost employees now handle a range of American tasks -- they draw cartoons, interpret heart scans, adjudicate insurance claims, reserve flights and chase debtors.
Das, who quit the job after four months, said she learned to dislike Americans. "Rarely, there are people who are good," she said by e-mail, "but then others remind me that all they believe in is cursing, and they don't have respect for others."
Her opinion is not uncommon among many workers in India's burgeoning call-center industry.
Relations between India and the United States have grown closer in recent years. India now sends more students to American colleges than any other country.
Indians form the wealthiest and one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the United States. And in the last decade, American companies have increasingly sought Indian customers and employees.
Not everyone is happy about the growing ties between the two nations. An anti-outsourcing movement has drawn wide support as layoffs continue to mount at such U.S. companies as IBM, which is cutting 13,000 jobs in Europe and the United States and adding 14,000 in India, according to the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers.
In the first three months of this year, state legislators proposed 112 bills to stanch the exodus of American jobs, according to the National Foundation for American Policy.
Some opponents of outsourcing, often fired workers themselves, have rechanneled their rage at job-slashing CEOs toward India. On the Web forum Is Your Job Going Offshore? (isyourjobgoingoffshore.com/forums/) contributors variously describe India as depraved, as a haven for terrorists, a "giant leech" and a nation of "back-stabbing cowards."
It is this kind of commentary that has shaped a perception among India's customer-care workers that Americans are intolerant. "Everybody thinks like that," said Samik Chowdhury, assistant manager at an IBM office in northern India. "Every time, it's racism only."
This attitude is not typical of most urban Indians, who tend to admire the United States for its strength and entrepreneurial spirit. In a recent 16-country Pew poll, India had the highest percentage of citizens with a favorable opinion of the United States, 71 percent.
The less favorable view, though, is beginning to seep into Indian popular culture. The scripts for a new sitcom called "The Call Center," scheduled to air this winter on the leading channel NDTV, depict Westerners as arrogant, immoral and comically rude.
Even before the impact of the economic crisis could be felt on India's $11bn business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, which gets 70% of all the outsourced work from the US, it was in the grip of a crisis of its own.
Several companies, mostly smaller ones unable to maintain international standards, have shut down in Mumbai and Delhi.
[ ... ]
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, author of a new book - Who Moved My Job - and the director of the UK National Outsourcing Association, believes there are several factors at play in India.
He says the rapid growth in other sectors in India is making different industries attractive for young graduates.
Another factor is the changing nature of the call centre industry, he says.
"The requirement for companies to answer their consumers by phone, e-mail, or IM on a 24/7 basis has never been so critical - consumers demand rapid service now and a lot of companies are recruiting locally instead of internationally."
He also said that salaries in the call centre industry had fallen.
The industry has tried hard to make it lucrative for young people by creating cool recreational facilities and improving infrastructure, but that has failed to stop them from leaving for greener pastures.
"Where's the time to use their damn gym or cafeteria or other facilities?" says Ms Pavaskar.
Some call centres have lowered their recruitment standards to solicit young people.
Several companies, faced with a paucity of graduates, are spreading their net wider by hiring under-graduates.
As a result, experts say, the standards are falling and they are losing outsourced work from the US.
Has the industry, which hopes to hit the $50bn mark by 2012, peaked?
For Blog -- COMMENTING ON SOME TERRIFIC COMMENTS
Date: 11/26/2008 3:22:59 AM Eastern Standard Time
Of course something had to happen over Thanksgiving. The activist can never blink. It's precisely when our minds are elsewhere - on the secret ingredient for stuffing - that the enemy pounces.
Thanksgiving, 2001 or 2, FEMA closed their services for Lower Manhattan residents. Over Christmas, 2002, the EPA closed its hotline for a cleanup.
In the heart of August, 2003, when everyone was at the beach not reading the newspaper, the EPA Inspector General's Report was released revealing evidence that lies were told compromising the lives or health of thousands, for the express purpose of reopening Wall Street ASAP.
The purpose of the timing was to minimize the exposure of an embarrassing event. By contrast the attacks in India seek maximum exposure. But the lesson remains: Someone needs to be on active duty at all times.
Meanwhile, I watch the various squabbles unfold on the blog and am constantly reminded that the left is notorious for self-destructing. The powerful keep their eye fixed on the goal. It is close enough that they can smell it so they focus like a dog in chase.
The left have no such prize within grasp so they claw at each other.
The terrorist attacks will not change Microsoft Research's plans in India. " We are committed to staying on in India," Natampally added.
Dell has issued a travel advisory to its staff, advising caution and due diligence when traveling to India, said a spokeswoman for the company. "That is the only measure we have taken," she added.
A large number of technology companies including Oracle, Microsoft, and Dell run large software development and call center operations in India. But ever since the threat of terrorism increased since last year, these companies have tightened on security at their facilities.
"For a long time now, we have tightened on security at all our facilities," the Dell spokeswoman said.
Indian outsourcing companies and Indian operations of multinational technology companies were not affected by the attacks, though the disruption of train service in Mumbai on Thursday could affect the movement of staff.
Over the years guests have included The Queen, the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser and the Beatle John Lennon, to name but a few of the notable personalities to have checked in to the magnificent old wing.
More recently the hotel hosted the guests for Bombay leg of Liz Hurley's two-week extravaganza of a wedding, with guests dashing straight from the front door to waiting motor launches to take them to the privacy of waiting super-yachts in the harbour beyond.
To have pictures of burning Taj Hotel broadcast around the world will have a deeper impact than even perhaps the terrorists intended, striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress and sending shivers down the spine of some of the richest and most powerful people on the planet.
Past experience has shown that markets have reacted only temporarily to such extraordinary events. Although some reports do not make a reference to the terrorist strikes, the event is likely to have been factored since the report includes India's Q2 GDP numbers, which were released on Friday.
Edelweiss Securities: The immediate impact of past terrorist attacks on equity markets has not been significant. The indices have shown falls of less than 0.75% in most instances with only 1 or 2 instances of a fall of over 1%. In the current instance, we do not expect anything different.
However, the general weakness in the markets may cause some downward pressure. We expect both, tighter anti-terrorist laws and more stringent security measures to come out of this; this should again be positive in the medium to long term.
Macquire Research: Terrorist attacks, communal violence and natural calamities are not unheard of in India, though the country and its people have been known to recover quickly (recall the infamous floods in 2005, that brought Mumbai to a standstill for several days).
Based on our current assessment, the negative effects of the current attacks on tourism (winter months are the peak tourist period), investor confidence, rupee and equities will probably turn out to be temporary. However, the gravity of the latest attack could potentially have two lasting negative effects.
One on foreign investment and the second on tourism, both of which will be partly a function of how strongly the government responds to the rising threat and the increased reach of terrorism.
Standard and Poor's: Based on the scenario that these attacks were an isolated case, we don't expect there would be negative implications on India's macro-economic activities, or on the government's fiscal position.
Even if the current crisis worsens, off-shoring firms are confident that their customers will not be impacted; vendors say that they can move their customers' processes to other cities within the country in a span of hours.
Most IT & BPO companies have their delivery centres in places such as Mahape, Malad and Andheri which are in the suburbs of Mumbai. This terrorist attack was largely focused on the Southern part of Mumbai. Moreover, local trains which are considered to be the lifeline of the city - were largely unaffected by the stand off between terrorists and the security establishment. Though people were apprehensive of using public transport, employee turnout was quite high.
About 80 per cent of the employees of mid-tier company Hexaware Technologies turned up for work in the morning shift. "During the course of the day, this figure improved as employees kept coming in. Hence, none of our delivery operations were impacted," a Hexaware spokespersonTCS offices closed
Three offices of IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in South Mumbai remained closed on Thursday. "We do not provide services to clients from these three centres," a company spokesperson said. TCS has at least three more offices in Mumbai. Moreover, employees from these three offices in South Mumbai were either asked to work from home or from the company's other offices in the city, the spokesperson said.
BPO companies such as Firstsource Solutions had asked several of its employees working in the night shift to stay back for the morning shift fearing low turn out of employees. However, absenteeism was not as bad as the company expected it to be as public transport was largely functional, Firtsource's spokesperson said. Firstsource has delivery centres in Malad (Mumbai).
Since a majority of companies in Mumbai were closed, IT firms that garner a large chunk of business from the domestic markets had a fairly lean day.
"Eighty per cent of our customers were not working today. Hence, we encouraged our employees to leave home early," said Mr Atul Hemani, Managing Director, Omnitech Infosolutions.
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, a board director at the NoA, said, "There is a period of unrest in India due to the build up to the next general election, which takes place in a few months. India is a safe place, but there has always been violence in places like Kashmir. I would think twice about travelling to India at the moment."
The attack probably has not damaged India's reputation as a destination for outsourcing.
Sridhar Vedala, the lead from Global Sourcing Practice at Equaterra, said, "While Mumbai is still tense I don't see that this [attack] will have serious impact on outsourcing in terms of business continuity, although the perception of India as a sourcing destination overall might have been affected in the longer term."
Michael C. Ruppert
(c) Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved. Michael C. Ruppert
(Send it. Use it. But leave my name on it and don't change it. -- Especially you, Gore Vidal.)
Thanksgiving, Nov. 27,2008 – 00:30 PST – (After my last post I'd better start putting a time sig on these.)
I do not know how many other corporations are affected; but they will be many, if not most of the Dow 30 and the Fortune 500. And I can tell you that on Friday morning, any customer or client of Citigroup, Symantec or Hewlett-Packard will be unable to get customer assistance over the phone. Warranty service for these corporations will stop. I know that because I have been through that horrible grind with all of them in the last year or so. All of their calls are taken in Mumbai, by Indians. Nothing is working in Mumbai and there can be no certainty when anything will be working. Because the attacks included the premier hotels in the financial district, no multi-national will ever trust the city again. The risk is too great. I can almost bet that the multinationals are all well prepared for attacks on their own facilities, but were totally unprepared for an attack that pulled the city out from under them.
I think many corporations also have data processing and IT centers there are well.
The Achilles tendon of globalization has just been severed.
Ordinarily, I would go out and start researching to see how bad the exposure is but I already know that it is catastrophic. The markets will do all our research and reporting very quickly for us. Citigroup will be devastated. Its CEO Vikram Pandit, is Indian.
I am certain that this was the intended outcome of the attacks.
It is clear that the United States is imploding and that its economic, military and political influence are dying. As with all empires, it was the power of the state; whether economic, cultural, or military, which held the divergent parts together. In many cases enemies were bound next to enemies like two cats tied so tightly in a wet burlap sack that they could not move. But if the sack were to loosen, weaken…and expand? What if six wet cats were in the sack as it started to rend?
Our present, publicly-acknowledged cats include India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Now throw in Russia and Chechnya… Shake and stir.
Is it sinking in how dangerous this is?
Now we can also tell you who this man is and how he has become the vital link for investigating agencies to crack the terror plot.
His name is Azam Amir Kasav, he is 21 years old, speaks fluent English, hails from tehsil Gipalpura in Faridkot in Pakistan, and is the only terrorist from this audacious operation to have been captured alive.
Battle-hardened ATS officials are surprised by the details of the training the terrorists were put through before being despatched for the macabre mission. This amounted to an offensive from the sea, said a source. Ajmal has revealed the name of his fellow jihadis — all Pakistani citizens — as Abu Ali, Fahad, Omar, Shoaib, Umer, Abu Akasha, Ismail, Abdul Rahman (Bara) and Abdul Rahman (Chhota).
The account of Ajmal also strengthens the belief that powerful elements in the Pakistani establishment may have been involved. According to him, the group set off on November 21 from an isolated creek near Karachi without the deadly cargo of arms and ammunition they were to use in Mumbai. The group received arms and ammunition on board a large Pakistani vessel which picked them up the following day. The vessel, whose ownership is now the subject of an international probe, had four Pakistanis apart from the crew.
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