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July 30, 2011

Inder Singh: The One Man Malaria Fighting Machine

HEALTH - Malaria is a crippling disease in part of the world. But there are people like Inder Singh who are working to stop it.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease and is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Americas. Each year, there are more than 225 million cases of malaria, killing around 781,000 people each year according to the WHO (World Health Organisation) 2010 report.

The majority of deaths are of young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

And the silly thing is that it is a largely preventable disease. There are pesticides for killing the mosquitoes, nets for protecting people while they sleep (most victims are bitten at night while they sleep) and a variety of anti-malaria vaccines.

In steps Inder Singh, one of many people trying to put a stop to the scourge of malaria. Singh is helping 69 developing countries gain access to anti-malaria drugs. The 34 year old man from India.

One of the things he has done is make deals with companies in India and China to make anti-malaria medications at a rate 30% cheaper than other companies... it is unfortunate that many of the pharmaceutical companies that research new anti-malaria medications do so purely for profit, thus finding companies willing to make medications for less profit can be the difference between saving the lives of more people. (Simple math might suggest 30% more people get saved, but the reality is that its a much larger percentage.)

He's also pushed placing a cap on prices, so pharmaceutical companies can't charge outrageous prices.

Thanks to Inder Singh in 2009 12 million people who would have been denied anti-malaria medication got it. That many people means he saved approx. 40,000 lives from dying of malaria.

Really what he is doing is bringing business savvy to a charitable cause... where previously good meaning people with little knowledge of how to best save people were doing what they could, now someone who can actually crunch the numbers and go to the companies with business proposals which will allow them to still make profits, but sell a lot more medications.

Think of it this way...

Option A: Sell 10 kg of pills for $150 / kg = $1,500.

Option B: Sell 50 kg of pills for $100 / kg = $5,000.

Option C: Sell 1000 kg of pills for $50 / kg = $50,000.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that there is way more profit to be made going for Option C. Mass production and more affordability = More people who can buy the medications and more profits.

Inder Singh also uses his business know-how on fund raising ventures and speaks publicly on how people can use their skills to help others.

July 29, 2011

Republican rebels hurting US economic prospects

POLITICS - The United States has never before defaulted on their debts.

If they do it will signal a huge change in US economic policy and make it increasingly difficult for the USA to get future loans.

Thanks to the Bush era overspending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the huge bailout of the US banking industry (which has since been proven to be fraudulent) and the Obama era stimulus package the United States is at a record level of debt: $14.35 trillion USD.

But Republicans in Congress are blocking any attempts to raise taxes on the rich to pay off the debts incurred by the banking industry induced recession of 2007-2009.

These hardline Republicans are deliberately trying to prevent any passage of bills or compromises which would create a budget deficit reduction plan. (Its almost like they WANT the USA to go into a recession.)

Emergency meetings this morning and Republican infighting further delays any compromise.

On Tuesday the US government will run out of money to pay all its bills.

The wise thing to do then is to tell Congress that they're not getting paid until they start raising taxes / making compromises towards solving the USA's budget woes.

On the top of the list of things to be done is to raise the USA's borrowing limit by August 2nd or risk a devastating default and downgrade of the USA's stellar credit rating that helps make US debt a pillar of the global financial system.

Republicans however are insisting on government cuts to spending (which would result in huge job losses). John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, wants to cut $900 billion USD over 10 years, but even that isn't enough for some hardline Republicans.

John Boehner's proposal would mean cutting approximately 1.8 million jobs. It would be a devastating blow to the US economy and.

THE USA DOESN'T HAVE A CHOICE. They need to raise corporate taxes and taxes on the rich. Killing the economy by firing almost 2 million people is the opposite of what needs to be done.

Bank Robber catches 8 Toronto banks off guard

CANADA - A young bank robber, between the ages of 23 and 33 and between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-9, had robbed 8 Toronto banks according to police.

Sometimes the bank robber has a note saying: “This is a robbery.” Sometimes he just tells the teller it is a robbery. So far he robbed 8 Toronto banks since May 2011 and yesterday police finally released security camera photos of the suspect.

Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying him.

The man doesn’t wear a mask and prefers to not wear gloves. The man’s taste in banks is varied, according to police, who say he used to target TD banks, but now “he’s dipping into everything.”

Police say the man walks into the bank, approaches the teller and engages them in briefly in a conversation. Then he either demands money from the teller verbally or he produces a note. Sometimes the note includes an indication that he has a handgun, other times, he tells them so.

Police and the banks aren't saying how much he has stolen.

Police advise people not to approach the man but to call police instead.

July 28, 2011

Rob Ford lied when he said: "services will not be cut"

CANADA - Two weeks before the October 25th election in Toronto soon-to-be-Mayor Rob Ford promised “I will assure you that services will not be cut, guaranteed."

Ford promised to find $525.6 million in undefined "gravy train" expenses the city didn't need.

Nine months later Rob Ford is now proposing to cut over $443 million in city services (aka, he is cutting the "meat and potatoes" instead of the gravy). Among those to be hit are:

750 Police layoffs
Firefighter layoffs
Library closures and firing of library staff
Snow clearance staff
Street sweeping staff
2000 city run/subsidized daycare staff

Its a thick list of city services... everything from water safety to day care centres. And the list may get longer. A separate list of cuts to city services totals $700 million and include scrapping a program that funds 685 student nutrition programs, 42 AIDS prevention projects and 38 community crime/drug prevention programs.

Ford also hopes to sell or privatize:

The Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Waterfront
The Don Valley Parkway (turn it into a toll road)
Garbage collection services
Police clean up services

And he wants to halt / scrap:

The TTC's overnight buses (Blue Night Service)
The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (environmental grants)

In January Rob Ford revised his promise to no “major” service reductions.

As of last Thursday Rob Ford is now refusing to even call them "cuts".

And so the backpeddling of promises into outright lies begins.

Rob Ford is now also contemplating raising taxes "at least 3%" according to one source. Why? Because he is bankrupting the city with his other crazed spending measures. The cutting of the vehicle registration tax means Ford doesn't have the money to support the other things he wants to spend money on and instead cutting everything he can (including breaking promises) in an effort to avoid raising taxes.

See Also

July 26, 2011

America wallows in debt while Canada soars

POLITICS - The Canadian dollar closed higher today as Republicans and Democrats bickered over what to do about America's huge debt and bankrupted finances. So far American lawmakers have failed to raise the country's debt limit and this delay is hurting the US economy.

In Canada the Canadian Loonie went up to 106.07 cents US after earlier running as high as 106.3 cents US today, its highest level since early November 2007.

The United States has a week to reach a deal to increase its $14.3-trillion USD debt limit or will not being able to pay its bills. That has led to fears the world's largest economy could default on its debts and send shockwaves throughout world markets.

The weak U.S. dollar also pushed oil prices higher with the September contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up 39 cents to US$99.59 a barrel. A weaker greenback usually helps raise oil prices, which are denominated in dollars, as it makes oil less expensive for holders of other currencies.

Gold prices are up from Monday's latest record close, up $4.60 to $1,616.80 USD per ounce.

July 22, 2011

Frostwire Kills Gnutella

TECHNOLOGY - If you've been trying to download and share files via the old FrostWire recently you will have noticed only the BitTorrent files are now working.

The reason is because FrostWire has shut down the Gnutella network part of its program and the new FrostWire 5 is now BitTorrent ONLY.

After LimeWire was shut down last year FrostWire took over as the leading file-sharing application on the Gnutella network. On June 27th 2011 FrostWire announced that it would leave Gnutella entirely and focus on BitTorrent instead. It took them a little under a month to bring this into effect.

For some people this decision may very well signal the end of the once-mighty Gnutella network, while existing BitTorrent networks will only grow stronger... however this would not be accurate. BitTorrent is used mostly for sharing videos, music and sometimes software... whereas Gnutella does all that plus photos (usually porn)... and as we all know the porn industry is huge on the internet.

Therefore its doubtful this is the end of Gnutella, which is still one of largest P2P networks on the Internet.

The problem with Gnutella however is that its increasing full of spam. Sometimes files are just blank with a phony warning about codecs when in reality what has happened is Hollywood execs have spent considerable resources spamming the network with bogus files. (We should note however that FrostWire 5 is still riddled with spam / fake files, just a different kind of fake files / spam. The annoying part for users is that because its a torrent file you can't test out the file first to make sure its real, whereas in Gnutella you could preview files to make sure they were real.)

Plus there was only so much time FrostWire could continue to dodge lawyers and legal issues concerning sharing of pirated material.

So now there are several replacements for the Gnutella Network die hards...

#1. Shareaza

#2. Blubster

#3. FreeWire

#4. Phex

Whenever one Gnutella network collapses a bunch of others step forward to take their place. Same stuff, different people running the show.

July 19, 2011

Where is the gravy train in Toronto?

CANADA - Rob Ford was elected as Toronto's mayor largely because of his slogan that he was going to cut Toronto's gravy train of wasteful spending.

But here is an important question... Where is the gravy train in Toronto?

Is it in garbage cleanup and recycling?

There have been a number of past people who have pointed out that Toronto could save millions if we weren't sending our garbage to Michigan. Instead we could be shipping it to Northern Ontario... roughly the same distance but at least we're paying a Canadian company right? Not necessarily. A lot of these so-called "Canadian" waste disposal companies are actually owned by Americans.

Disposal wise we could also be burning a lot of our trash in an incinerator, basically a giant furnace for getting rid of trash. The incinerator heats up water, turns turbines and creates electricity... but it also pollutes and Torontonians won't put up with that.

Its also been many times that Toronto could privatize garbage cleanup in an effort to save money, which means hiring companies which use non-unionized labour but are "for profit". Pros and cons? In theory it might be cheaper, but overtime other cities have learned the hard way privateers start jacking up the prices over time.

And seriously, would you pick up garbage for less than a decent wage? Probably not. Garbage pickup is well-paid because so few people are willing to do it.

Remember the last time Toronto had a garbage strike? It wasn't pretty and it smelled rotten everywhere. So yeah, no gravy train there.

What about Toronto Tourism?

Toronto has a lot to offer culturally. We have art galleries (the AGO is the largest art gallery in Canada), museums, the Hockey Hall of Fame, sports venues, Blue Jays okay, Maple Leafs suck... we also have 5 star world class beaches, the CN Tower, a brewery which gives away free beer samples (Steam Whistle), great shopping, great food and a wide assortment of places to go and things to do.

On top of that we have lots of hotels to choose from, from the classic turn-of-the-century hotels to more alternative Toronto bed and breakfast places.

Every dollar spent on Toronto tourism brings in ooodles of tourists and Toronto ends up laughing all the way to the bank as tourists spend their cash. Toronto ends up making way more money out of this.

Rob Ford's answer to Toronto tourism has been to try and woo a NFL team to come to Toronto, an idea that has been vehemently shouted down by Canadian football fans. Bringing the NFL to Canada is a seriously bad idea. (And besides, their balls are too small. Canadian balls are bigger.)

Nope, no gravy train here either.

What about Toronto's libraries?

Well Toronto's libraries are pretty much hands off. Too many elderly voters go there, and they often provide programs for children to keep them out of trouble so that makes parents and police happy too. Libraries keep the crime rate down and is worth every penny as a crime prevention method.

What about Toronto's overpaid police force?

It doesn't take a genius to look at Toronto police's bad reputation to realize they're overpaid. The G20 last year is going to cost the city 10s of millions in lawsuits because the Toronto police are such an inept bunch of brigands that they were apparently playing provocateurs by disguising themselves as the "Black Bloc"... there are photos and videos floating around on the internet now which show Black Bloc members all wearing the same boots as the Toronto riot police. One photo even shows a Black Bloc member with a tattoo on his arm, and a 2nd photo shows a Toronto police officer wearing the same tattoo.



So the only conclusion left is that the whole "anarchist" threat was completely phoney and the result of some weird police conspiracy to pose as anarchists so they could beat up peaceful hippies and later cause millions of dollars worth of lawsuits? For what purpose???

So yeah, there's a gravy train there Rob Ford... but you can be sure the mayor of Toronto isn't investigating it. Instead the Toronto police got a raise not that long ago.

What about the TTC?

Toronto's subways, buses and street cars are an essential service. The city's economy would collapse without them. Cutting anything to do with the TTC will have a dire impact on Toronto's economy. Even a minor strike by TTC staff hurts the economy.

No gravy train there, but Rob Ford keeps talking about cutting or privatizing the TTC instead.

Note: Rob Ford does want to extend the Sheppard Subway line west to Downsview, but he has made a deal to put his brother Doug Ford in charge of the billions of dollars going into the project. His brother Doug will of course be paid handsomely. To pay for the project Rob Ford will probably need to raise land taxes, create road tolls or do something else that basically robs Torontonians and gives the money to his brother Doug. Can you say NEPOTISM?

What about those lazy bicyclists and their bicycle lanes?

Toronto has 3 million bicycles, roughly 1 for every 2 Torontonians. The closer you are to the downtown core the more likely people bicycle to work, use their bicycles for leisure and errands. GET USED TO IT.

Rob Ford however hates cyclists. He thinks they should be riding on sidewalks, endangering the lives of pedestrians... Wow, what a moronic idea that is. Imagine for example you've just had your nails done at a fancy Yorkville salon, and you step out on to the sidewalk without really paying attention to your surroundings because you're admiring your nails... wham, you get hit by a cyclist who was forced to use the sidewalk because Rob Ford is a moron. (There is a reason riding on the sidewalk is a $400 fine! Note: Coasting on the sidewalk is perfectly legal, its only when cyclists go too fast around pedestrians that its considered illegal because it falls under reckless endangerment laws.)

For Rob Ford this has nothing to do with money. Toronto saves more money on infrastructure costs with less cars on the road. More cars = more traffic jams + more car accidents + more sluggish economy. Less cars and more bicycles means Toronto saves money.

What is really stupid is Rob Ford has now approved a plan to scrap several bicycle lanes at a cost of $400,000 just to remove paint lines on the road. $400,000!!! What a complete waste of taxpayer dollars!

Seriously, its time to impeach Rob Ford. We should pack him up and send him air freight to a place that appreciates morons like him. Alabama maybe.

Toronto could do with one less redneck of a mayor.

Check Out:
Anti-Rob Ford Blog
Anti-Rob Ford page on Facebook
Anti-Rob Ford Merchandise

July 18, 2011

Harry Potter beats Dark Knight

ENTERTAINMENT - You know its good when you go to see it twice in the same weekend.

We give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 a solid 4.5 stars out of 5.

Meanwhile the boy wizard has also vanquished the Dark Knight with record-setting profits at the weekend box office.

Warner Bros. estimates that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” took in $168.6 million domestically from Friday to Sunday. That beats the previous best opening weekend of $158.4 million, also held by Warner Bros. for 2008’s Batman film: “The Dark Knight”.

Warner Bros. has not released the full international numbers for the whole weekend, but “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” has been working the same charms since it began showing overseas last Wednesday.

Since Friday the film had taken in $157.5 million internationally, putting it on course to become Harry Potter’s first billion-dollar worldwide hit.


Explosive missile warheads stolen from Romanian train

POLITICS - 64 missile warheads have been stolen from a Romanian train. The train was transporting military equipment to Bulgaria. Prosecutors said today they are investigating the theft.

Spokesman Marius Militaru says the explosive warheads are not dangerous on their own, only when attached to a missile... or when disassembled to get the explosives out. In other words, the warheads are very dangerous in the wrong hands.

Officials today did not respond to inquiries regarding how much explosives the warheads contained. (We can guess its enough to level a large building.)

Railway workers on Saturday noticed the seals on a carriage door were broken, and it was not properly closed when the train reached Giurgiu, a Danube port that borders Bulgaria.

Tohan Zarnesti, the Romanian company that was shipping the warheads, produces artillery ammunition, ground to ground missiles, air to ground missiles and warheads for 122mm missiles.

It can now be assumed that the 64 explosive warheads are now in the hands of terrorists or people intending to sell them to terrorists.

FYI, its not that hard to make a missile. True, it is technically "rocket science", but the basics of how to make a missile can be learned from YouTube videos. Or even a guidebook on how to make your own fireworks.







Seriously, its far too easy.

Spokesman Marius Militaru was lying through his teeth when he said the warheads aren't dangerous. They're designed to explode on impact. You could drop them out of a plane or a helicopter on to the target (or leave them on railway tracks to be hit) and still have the same explosive damage.

Police shut down girls' lemonade stand

POLITICS - Don't drink the water in Georgia because apparently all the cops there are braindead.

Police in Georgia have shut down a lemonade stand run by three little girls trying to save up money for a trip to a water park. Police say they didn’t have a business license or the required permits. (Like WTF, seriously???)

Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar says police also didn’t know how the lemonade was made (like who doesn't know how to make lemonade?), who made it (the three little girls evidently) or what was in it (lemons, duh!).

The girls had been operating for one day when Chief Morningstar (isn't Morningstar another name for Lucifer?) and another police officer cruised by and decided to be a pair of idiotic bullies.

The girls needed a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day or $180 per year.

One girl, 14-year-old Casity Dixon, says the three had to listen to police and shut down.

Seriously. If you ever need proof the United States has become a police state, there it is. Shows that education is completely underfunded when they have morons like that.

DEFINITION OF A POLICE STATE: ANY COUNTRY WHERE POLICE ARE PAID MORE THAN TEACHERS.

July 16, 2011

WikiLeaks: The Movie?

ENTERTAINMENT/POLITICS - Julian Assange and his whistleblower website WikiLeaks has been the target of much drama and political scandal, especially when his website keeps posting government secrets which are often not "top secret", but are simply things various countries and corporations want kept quiet on the fringe of what most people know about the government.

Things like which corporation supplies the USA with most of its fissionable material for its nuclear submarines. Its not a secret, it just wasn't widely discussed.

Having things released in WikiLeaks is basically like hiring a publicist and announcing to the whole world... "Hey, the USA is getting a lot of crude oil from this one place in Saudi Arabia!"

And while there are other countries involved in the WikiLeaks leaks, it is still the United States which is the most mentioned and the most vehement in its goal of putting Julian Assange behind bars and attempting to silence his website.

The phoney baloney charges against Julian Assange have nothing to do with political strife or greedy corporations however. They're trumped up charges of sexual assault in Sweden, an investigation which only started after the USA made it clear it wanted Assange's head on a platter. The allegations against him are completely "without basis" and its pretty clear Sweden is just a puppet here in an effort to silence Julian Assange.

But lets pretend for a moment they do manage to send him to prison. What happens to the WikiLeaks website? NOTHING. It now has so many mirror websites, loyal supporters and people willing to carry on the cause that it doesn't matter if the CEO is put behind bars. The government leaks will just keep coming, like they always have...

Historically it was usually newspapers that were printing the government leaks. Thanks to the internet now anyone can do it. Furthermore, once on WikiLeaks the newspapers usually reprint the new info anyway, citing WikiLeaks as the source.

So WikiLeaks is definitely here to stay, regardless of what happens to Julian Assange.

WIKILEAKS THE MOVIE

And now the rights to the movie have been sold and heading into production. The story of Julian Assange's manhunt, the false allegations, thousands of not-to-secret government leaks... all on a Hollywood screen for everyone to see.

What is funny is when you look at the statistics too. Most Americans support WikiLeaks. Its just the government and its political cronies who hate it (although some secretly love it, because its fodder against their political enemies).

The film rights were bought by Marc Shmuger of DreamWorks. As the producer Shmuger will be in charge of the final cut of the film (often the director doesn't get the final cut, hence why they also make "director's cuts").

Fans of WikiLeaks have been promoting the film like crazy, posting copies of documentaries online... like the one below from YouTube.



But its not a documentary that Marc Shmuger is planning. Its an entertaining feature film, perhaps starring "Leonardo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling" or Christian Bale as Julian Assange.

Thus when it hits the theatres eventually the US government will be hardpressed to keep Julian Assange under wraps.

And back to our original point, what difference will it make? The cat is already out of the bag, the genie is out of the bottle, the politician is out of the whorehouse, the army general is caught with his pants down on videotape and its been posted on YouTube.

Seriously people. WikiLeaks The Movie will just be a final nail in the coffin making it as official and permanent as Michael Moore films, a historical fact like the Watergate Scandal...

The real danger is when its finally leaked that September 11th was planned by the Bush Administration. With damning evidence. (Its not really much of a secret either, everyone knows they planned it as an excuse to go after Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.)

As it currently stands many of the WikiLeaks have to do with the wars in the Middle East. The US government doesn't want people realizing at what level they've been deceived. We can logically conclude that the planning of September 11th was just a tiny piece of the puzzle with respect to the government secrets surrounding the current wars in the Middle East.

Its not just the wars either. Highly secretive bank documents which detail the collapses of various investment banks during 2008 and how they were actually in good financial standing, but secretly presented false documents to the USA and British governments in an effort to give huge bailout payments... ergo, the whole bailout scheme was a complete fraud and American / British taxpayers are paying the price of their greed and corruption.

July 15, 2011

How to "Hit the Slide" and get Fired with Style!

By Ai Lung Nguyen

Ever wanted to say "Take this job and shove it!"??? Anyone who has ever worked for a slavedriving moronic manager has thought it.

Ever since Steve Slater, the frustrated JetBlue airline attendant, fled the airplane via emergency chute, beer in hand, after berating passengers over the intercom in August 2010 the term "Hit the Slide" has been growing in popularity as a reference to quitting in a spectacularly public fashion.

Lets take example of Brigette DePape, the former parliamentary page in Ottawa, who took her “Stop Harper” protest to the floor of the Senate during the Governor General David Johnston's throne speech... it was a pretty daring move when you consider it was broadcast on live television.

There’s also former CTV reporter Kai Nagata, whose 3,000+ words blog post criticizing the news broadcasting business he was quitting has since made him a mini media celebrity:

Here's the short version of why Kai Nagata quit:
"I quit my job because the idea burrowed into my mind that, on the long list of things I could be doing, television news is not the best use of my short life. The ends no longer justified the means."


And then there was also a couple working for fashion tyrant Peter Nygard who quit by sneaking out of his walled compound where they were basically being held captive against their will and not allowed to leave. They ended up stealing a bunch of Peter Nygard's documents as evidence of his illegal treatment of employees and then escaped through the front gate while being chased by security guards.

Steve Slater airplane departure has spawned a rash of people (and YouTube videos) of people Hitting the Slide and quitting in spectacular ways.

Of course its not professional. Some of us do actually want reference letters and positive feedback from past employers.

Some of us also want to collect unemployment and severance packages so its sometimes better to simply slack off at work and get fired, just so you can collect the money and run.

But sometimes its entirely possible that you are quitting and don't care about professionalism or money. You quit because you just can't take it any more. The work you are doing is so annoying its stressing you out to the point your only choice is to quit.

And assuming you don't have a family or bills to worry about, you can do it and not have as much to be concerned about.

How to "Hit the Slide" and get Fired with Style!
#1. Don't do anything that is obviously illegal like vandalism (or at very least is just a minor misdemeanor charge). ie. Steve Slater was arrested and paid a $10,000 U.S. fine for his actions.

#2. Don't do anything that would infringe any company contracts you signed. ie. The couple that stole records have since been in a lot of trouble battling Peter Nygard's horde of evil lawyers.

#3. Do something which maintains your dignity and shows you are enjoying quitting. ie. Walk around with a big smile on your face, a case of beer under your arm on the day you're being fired and give a beer to everyone at the office you actually liked.

#4. Don't go postal and show up with a gun or explosives. Bad idea and it never ends well. (Seems silly to me when you could just move overseas and start over with a whole new life.)

What you need is a mental image that calms you down... imagine looking at the Earth from outer space. Does whether we get fired or quit in a spectacular way really matter? Does our job really matter?

This comes back to the theory that mankind really isn't meant to be sitting in office cubicles or toiling in factories. We're meant to be OUTSIDE farming, hunting and fishing. Living a life wherein we eat what is necessary, enjoy the simple pleasures of life and aren't caught up in some crazy rat race for pellets of money. Sure, its hippie hogwash talk, but you've thought of doing it yourself before haven't you? Just leave and go some place where you can live peacefully and stress free.

And seriously, what is the advantage of living in the rat race? Movie theatres, traffic, bars, sleazy people, convenience stores, long line ups, fancy restaurants, rude people, shopping malls, annoying crazy people on the subway... for every advantage of living in the rat race there is an equal or greater disadvantage.

Speaking for myself, I quit my job as a dental hygienist years ago and now operate as a globe trotting blogger / dental hygienist for hire (I carry a kit with me and barter my services in regions without access to dentists). Today, still wanted by the government, I survive as a dental hygienist for hire. If you have a tooth ache, if no one else can help, and if you can find me, maybe you can hire Ai Lung Nguyen.

NOTES:

Brigette DePape hopes to land a job with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and now has a Facebook fan page with over 7,000 fans.

Kai Nagata has received numerous job offers and marriage proposals.

July 11, 2011

TTC employee urinates in public at Runnymede subway station

CANADA - You know you're a TTC employee when...

TTC riders catch you sleeping on the job, brawling with passengers and texting while on the road.

But on the morning of June 15th TTC rider Gary Pieters saw an uniformed TTC employee at Runnymede subway station walk to the side of the building, stop near a laneway, unzip and urinated in full view of people on the bus and people walking by.

The employee finished, “casually zipped up his pants” and remained near the station.

“It was just disgusting,” says Pieters. “You can imagine how, you sit down on a bus and you expect to have an uneventful ride to your workplace, and the first thing you see when you hop on the bus is this type of behaviour.”

Pieters immediately contacted TTC customer service by phone, then followed up a week later to provide identifying information.

Chris Upfold, the TTC’s chief customer service officer, acknowledged the incident, and says the employee's behaviour was “unprofessional and unacceptable.”

“You have the assurance of the TTC, and my personal assurance, that the employee was identified and appropriate action was taken,” says Chris Upfold.

But these events just seem to keep happening. Is it because TTC staff suddenly don't care about their reputation? Or is it because many people now have cellphone cameras and keep catching them in the act?

Just last week a TTC driver and a supervisor scuffled with riders when the supervisor grabbed a woman's camera away from her when she was filming one such incident in which the driver was bullying a middle aged woman to get off his street car. There has also been other incidents of drivers attacking passengers, proof that its not just the passengers who need to control their tempers.

NASA needs to solve space junk problem

TECHNOLOGY - More than 500,000 pieces of orbiting debris are being tracked by NASA and the problem is only getting worse as more companies put more satellites into orbit which eventually break down and become flying pieces of space garbage.

These pieces of space garbage, thanks to zero resistance and the earth's gravity, can speed up to enormous speeds which makes them a hazard to working satellites and to astronauts working on the International Space Station.

These days astronauts are careful to send any of their garbage back to earth, not wanting to add to the growing problem of space garbage. They even have an Italian made container used just for transporting supplies to the station and transporting garbage back to earth.

But what about the debris outside? Maybe its time to start collecting the space garbage hurtling around the earth? Due to their speeds even small pieces of space junk are potentially dangerous because they could puncture a hole in the International Space Station and cause decompression.

On a regular basis the ISS astronauts have to get into life pods whenever dangerous pieces of space junk whiz by too close to the space station. They will likely have to continue doing this in the future, but what if there was technology available to decrease the amount of space junk so they don't have to do it so often?

Two weeks ago, the six space station residents had to seek shelter in their lifeboats when a piece of junk came within 335 metres, the closest encounter yet. NASA takes these close encounters very seriously because the space junk is sometimes traveling at a speed of 36,000 kmph.



POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

#1. A conventional net to catch larger pieces of space junk.

#2. Large magnets on tethers which draws in the space junk and can be pulled in to later be disposed of properly.

#3. A net with many multiple magnets on them.

Option #3 seems like the best option. A series of these nets could be set up around the International Space Station to catch space junk that is coming nearby. Small boosters in the corners of the nets could be used to move and coordinate the capture of the space junk using sensory equipment. This would solve the immediate danger to the ISS and over time this would decrease the amount of space junk in the same orbit as the ISS.

July 10, 2011

South Sudan becomes a country

POLITICS - Yesterday was a day of celebration in the newly formed country of South Sudan, which has formally separated from Sudan (or North Sudan) and declared its independence.

The country of 8.3 million people chanted, celebrated and braved oppressive heat to witness the birth of their new republic. The declaration of independence was read, at 1:25 PM local time yesterday, causing delirium as Sudan’s flag was lowered and the Republic of South Sudan’s flag was raised.

For South Sudanese people it means they are no longer oppressed by their northern neighbours / former countrymen. North and South fought two civil wars over five decades, leaving approx. 2.5 million dead.

New president, General Salva Kiir, signed a transitional constitution and then took the oath of office. North Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the military leader since 1989 who presided over most of the last civil war watched from nearby.

General Kiir did not mince words in his speech despite the North Sudanese president's presence.

“We have been bombed, maimed, enslaved and treated worse than refugees in our own country,” he said. “We have to forgive, although we won’t forget.”

Many nations around the world have already recognized the new country and opened diplomatic relations with South Sudan, but the most important of these is North Sudan for it means the future should bring peace and prosperity.

Visitors included United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, British foreign minister William Hague, Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.

May South Sudan follow the path of responsible government free from corruption and tyranny.

July 8, 2011

TTC Driver + Supervisor scuffles with riders

CANADA - The reputation of the Toronto Transit Commission's buses, street cars and subways' drivers is just going from bad to worse.

It all started when a crowded streetcar at Bathurst station was over 40 minutes late during rush hour on Monday.

A middle-aged woman in her 40s got on the street car. “Why are you late?” she recalls asking the operator. “We’ve been waiting for almost 40 minutes now.”

“I don’t like your attitude and you are not getting into my car,” she remembers the operator saying, and then left the streetcar for a short break.

The 40-something woman got on the street car anyway. When he returned 5 minutes later, he spotted her and yelled at her to “get out of his car”.

“I said no, I have a subway pass and paid my fare.”

The driver told her to get off and take the next one, but the woman refused to budge.

It was a regular Rosa Parks situation. Here was a calm middle aged woman. She had asked a question and the driver had behaved rudely to her. (Begging the question, if she had been a young man or an old man would he have treated her differently?)

“I wasn’t backing down,” the woman said. And she wasn't alone, other passengers were equally annoyed at the driver.

Abie Derdak, another passenger on the streetcar, overheard the conversation and says the woman was behaving calmly.

“The driver was so angry and out of his mind,” says Julio Erhart, who was sitting at the front.

Other passengers spoke up, telling the operator everyone has a right to free speech and that there is nothing wrong with asking why someone was late.

The operator then called his supervisor, following TTC protocol, claiming he felt threatened.

One woman, Shari, started filming the incident. When the TTC supervisor arrived he said: “We can all sit here forever, or you can come out, let the streetcar go and then I’ll get you on another streetcar.”

The middle-aged woman refused.

Nearby passengers argued back with the supervisor, pointing out that the driver was clearly in the wrong and basically had a temper tantrum. The supervisor noticed Shari’s camera, marched over to her and grabbed the camera away from her.

Note: It isn’t illegal to take pictures or record video on TTC property as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

According to the TTC an elderly passenger then grabbed the supervisor from behind in a bearhug, after which a scuffle broke out.

“I didn’t see a bearhug,” the woman said. “The driver grabbed the camera and then another man grabbed his arm and took it away.” That is when the scuffle really began when the supervisor lost his temper.

Many of the passengers refused to disembark, and TTC officials refused to move the streetcar, creating a queue of other streetcars behind it. The 50+ passengers refused to get off the street car and waited another 30 minutes for the police to arrive.

The TTC's reputation has been in shambles since TTC employees were caught sleeping on the job about 18 months ago and other similar incidents which display a lack of proper training and behavioral problems on the part of TTC staff.

Drivers do have the right to refuse service, but passengers who haven't done anything wrong are fully entitled to stand up (or sit down in this case) for their rights.

Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, says TTC workers can snap and lose their temper after a long day.

In April 2010 a TTC bus driver, Bereket Hagos, was charged with assault after attacking and trying to choke a passenger. The attack was recorded on video from the bus' onboard camera. The driver even taunted the passenger, saying "Hit me, hit me!"

In January 2011 Toronto police charged a 59-year-old TTC employee with assault. The off-duty TTC employee was on a bus in Scarborough when he attacked a father and his son, trying to push them further back on the bus. When the father complained to the bus driver on duty, the driver refused to call it in so the father called police on a cellphone. Frederick Tulk, 59, later turned himself into police and was charged.

Will there ever be an Arab Union?

POLITICS - The concept of an Arab Union stretching somewhere between Morocco and Pakistan has been around for years, but it has yet to be largely because many of the countries in the region have cultural and religious disagreements that have nothing to do with politics or economics.

The European Union for example is a largely economic alliance, under one currency (the Euro), which gives them a strong advantage over other markets with weaker / less stable currencies. Creating an Arab Union using a common currency (ie. the Dinar) sounds like a smart idea, but it becomes a monumental task of trying to get these countries to agree on anything long enough to make such an economic alliance.

There are several large problems...

#1. Dictatorships... far too many Arab countries, ie. Iran is still under a dictatorial government. In 2010 and 2011 there have been a number of uprisings in Egypt and Libya, but there is still so many countries in the Middle East which lack a secular democratic government.

#2. Religion... different interpretations of Islam and the differences between liberal, moderate and extreme Islam. Some of these countries believe strongly in having a Muslim state government and adopting Sharia laws (ancient Arab laws that endorse things like chopping off the hands of thieves, stoning women to death, etc).

#3. Possible War. ie. Israel Vs. Iran. Some countries have peace treaties with Israel, but others have open animosity.

#4. War zones. ie. Iraq, Turkey, Libya, etc.

#5. Palestine. The country is more like a prison surrounded by Israeli troops. Any prospect of an Arab Union will probably want to include Palestine.

But also a number of bonus factors which may make it easier...

#1. OPEC. This is already an economic alliance between many of the oil producing Arab countries and thus serves as a platform on which an Arab Union could be formed. Indeed it might be touted as OPEC II or the OPEC Union. See the History of Oil Prices.

#2. Languages. While most Arab countries do have their own languages and dialects, this was nothing in terms of preventing Britain, Greece and Finland from joining the European Union. If anything there should be enough similarities between the North African and Middle Eastern languages to help further the idea of such an union.

#3. A Common Thirst for Prosperity. Who doesn't want peace and economic growth?

Conclusions: We need peace in the Middle East before people can attempt an Arab Union or anything similar to that.

But if 2 or 3 countries kick started the union it would create an economic avalanche that spreads from one country to the next as each sees the economic benefits.

July 7, 2011

Facebook gets Skype video chat

TECHNOLOGY - Facebook is now offering Skype-based video chat to all Facebook members, something which will no doubt primarily be used by young people who have already embraced new technology like VOIP, Google Video Chat, Google Phone and similar video / phone functions.

For Facebook it means one more function people can do on Facebook... in addition to the hours people already spend sending messages, sharing photos and playing games.

Facebook is slowly becoming the go-to place for all internet users. The company seems to want to become the place where people conduct all their personal and business life (see the new website "BranchOut" which is similar to LinkedIn) online. We never have to leave Facebook now.

Adding this new video calling feature, which will be available in the coming weeks, just puts another nail in the coffin as Facebook asserts more power in the internet marketplace.

For the 20-somethings who text like crazy, video conferencing brings an extra layer of intimacy for people who prefer to see who they are talking to. And immigrants find it great too to talk to relatives overseas or just across the continent.

For Skype, with its 150 million users who make free calls from computers and mobile devices, this partnership will grow its operations, especially since Facebook now has 750 million members.

Skype’s CEO Tony Bates posted on a video message on Skype’s blog yesterday saying his company’s goal is to get to 1 billion users, focusing first on free audio and video calling on Facebook, with possible paid calling down the road.

Most of Skype’s services are free, but it does offer a calling service for a fee to landlines and cell phones.

Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion USD. The deal is expected to close in a few months. This could signal more partnerships in the future between Microsoft and Facebook.





Ontario to get ID cards

CANADA - People in Ontario who don't have a driver's license or other form of photo ID will now be able to apply for personal ID cards starting in July.

The Ontario government-issued identification cards will be available to 1.5 million+ Ontarians 16 years and older who don’t drive. People without a driver’s licence say not having a photo ID card makes life more difficult for everyday transactions such as cashing a cheque, opening a new bank account, obtaining a credit card, boarding a domestic flight, obtaining hotel accommodations or even renting a video.

The new cards will cost $35, be valid for 5 years and available at select ServiceOntario centres starting July 25. Applicants must provide documents to prove legal name, date of birth and signature.

The new move to create these cards was pushed by vision-impaired Canadians who can't get a driver’s licence and wanted a basic piece of government-issue ID to prove their identities.

July 5, 2011

Canadians too busy or bored of elections to vote

CANADA - According to a new study by Statistics Canada 28% of the 7.5 million eligible voters who did not cast a ballot in the May 2 federal election said they were not interested in voting or felt their vote wouldn't make a difference.

23% of Canadian non-voters surveyed said they were "too busy to vote" due to family obligations or having a schedule conflict at work or school.

10% of Canadian non-voters told StatsCan they were out of town or away.

8% of Canadian non-voters said they did not like the candidates or campaign issues.

4% of Canadian non-voters said they forgot to vote.

A little over 1% said they did not vote because of religious beliefs.

Which begs the question... maybe election days should be holidays and voting should be made mandatory? (And people who choose not to vote due to religious reasons can simply spoil their ballot like some Canadians do as a form of protest.)

Turnout for the May 2nd 2011 election was a mere 61.4%. The Conservative government was elected with a mere 24.33% of eligible voters.

The 38.6% of eligible voters who didn't vote have the power to elect whatever government they want but simply choose not to or are too busy.

However if election days were holidays 27% of Canadian non-voters (those who forgot or were too busy) would be able to vote. Thus 10.42% more Canadians would be able to vote if election days were holidays.

Making voting mandatory may be a stretch, since some people (ie. elderly or disabled people) sometimes cannot vote due to lack of transportation.

And lastly people who don't understand the issues should be discouraged from voting anyway, because they are ill informed and lack the level of responsible knowledge to be voting in the first place. Thus keeping voting as a choice rather than as a mandatory obligation is a good thing.

Many other countries currently have election days as holidays. Why not Canada?

See Also: The Canadian Political Spectrum

July 3, 2011

Pink's Rosie the Riveter

By Ai Lung Nguyen - July 2011.

ENTERTAINMENT - Somebody had to post it on here, so why not me?



What I like about this video is how it meshes different social movements like feminism, veganism, anti-capitalism (she is wrestling the fat cat from the game "Monopoly") and more.




July 2, 2011

Canadian ship in Gaza flotilla halted

POLITICS - A Canadian ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip has been halted and uis under 24-hour surveillance in an effort to prevent it from delivering aid Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

After months of remaining secret, the location of the Canadian ship participating in Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza was found off the coast of the Greek seaside town of Agio Nikolaos. Greek authorities boarded the ship and tried to seize the ship’s transit log, which is needed to sail into the coastal waters of Israel.

Flotilla organizers say acts of sabotage against other two ships in the flotilla of aid ships happened earlier this week.

The Greek government, under pressure from Israel (and probably hoping for handouts since its under enormous financial strain right now), has blocked the Canadian boat and other ships from setting out to try and sneak past the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza and to deliver humanitarian aid to poor Palestinians who over the past decades have basically become prisoners inside their own country.

“We are being Gaza-fied,” says Lyn Adamson, 59, a lifelong Toronto activist and chair of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. “What we’re doing is perfectly legal and we haven’t given up,” says Adamson, one of 22 Canadians aboard the Canadian boat Tahrir (Arabic for “Liberation”). The ship is named after the square in Cairo where Egyptians gathered and toppled Hosni Mubarak early in 2011.

“It’s clearly coming from on high,” said Adamson. “It’s really a shame that this Greek government would be pressured, as it has been, into stopping these boats. Why is Israel afraid of our aid?”

Israel claims its sea blockade stops weapons from reaching Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, but it also stops food shipments, medical supplies and basically anything else you can think of. The conditions in the Gaza Strip are deplorable, similar to Jewish ghettos in Germany during WWII.

In 2010 nine activists on a Turkish boat died when the Israeli military attacked a similar flotilla.

On Friday night 36 delegates on the Canadian boat (including activists from Belgium, Denmark, Australia and Turkey) were sleeping aboard the Tahrir. 11 journalists from seven countries are also present on the ship. The activists come from all over, all ages and all religious/atheist backgrounds. The average age of people on the ship is 45. 33% of them are grandparents.

Meanwhile...

An American ship named “The Audacity of Hope” (after a book written by President Barack Obama) made a run for open water Friday. The Greek coast guard intercepted it after half an hour.

So for now the ships sit in legal limbo, unable to leave Greek waters and head towards Israel's territorial waters. The food and medical supplies aboard just sit and wait.

About Gaza

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