Wednesday, September 17, 2014

House Votes to Authorize Aid to Syrian Rebels in ISIS Fight - NYTimes.com

House Votes to Authorize Aid to Syrian Rebels in ISIS Fight - NYTimes.com:



"WASHINGTON — A House divided along unusual and unpredictable lines voted Wednesday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the militant group Islamic State, backing President Obama after he personally pleaded for support."



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Lethal Violence in Chimps Occurs Naturally, Study Suggests - NYTimes.com

Lethal Violence in Chimps Occurs Naturally, Study Suggests - NYTimes.com:



"Are chimpanzees naturally violent to one another, or has the intrusion of humans into their environment made them aggressive?"



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Fed Signals No Hurry to Raise Interest Rates - NYTimes.com

Fed Signals No Hurry to Raise Interest Rates - NYTimes.com:



"WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve affirmed its commitment to its stimulus campaign Wednesday, rejecting the argument it should begin to pull back more quickly, even as it detailed plans for its eventual retreat."



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Solving a Riddle of Primes - NYTimes.com

Solving a Riddle of Primes - NYTimes.com:



"Three and five are prime numbers — that is, they are divisible only by 1 and by themselves. So are 5 and 7. And 11 and 13. And for each of these pairs of prime numbers, the difference is 2."



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MacArthur Awards Go to 21 Diverse Fellows - NYTimes.com

MacArthur Awards Go to 21 Diverse Fellows - NYTimes.com:





"Twelve men and nine women, whose work is as diverse as studying the racial elements in perceptions of crime and translating contemporary Arab poetry, have been named the 2014 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals."



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Robert Fisk: Islamic State: Assad lures Obama into his web

Syria has asked Washington to engage in military and intelligence collaboration to defeat their mutual enemy Isis, inviting US congressmen and senators to visit Damascus to discuss joint action against the jihadis who threaten both America and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

It’s an offer that President Barack Obama will have to refuse – but not without some embarrassment. After deciding to bomb the forces of Isis, which calls itself Islamic State, in Syria as well as Iraq, Mr Obama was confronted by Vladimir Putin’s warning that any such unilateral action in Syria would be “an act of aggression”.

The US President will now have to explain yet again why he cannot collaborate against America’s “apocalyptic” enemies with a Syrian regime which he has also sworn to overthrow – even though this regime is fighting exactly the same enemies.

The letter to the US House of Representatives pointedly invites Congress and Senate members – who last year condemned the Syrian government for chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus – to collaborate “to save Syrian and American lives from a possible dirty bombing terror attack” by Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups.

The Syrian offer, contained in a letter yesterday from Mohamed Jihad al-Laham, the Speaker of the tame Syrian parliament – addressed, among others, to John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader – also claims that the “moderate” Syrian opposition which the US has promised to aid and train is identical to the jihadi groups supporting Isis, (or Isil as the Syrians prefer to call it, using another of the organisation’s acronyms).

What was called the “moderate opposition”, Mr Assad’s parliamentary Speaker writes, “sold to Isil the innocent, beheaded US journalist. There is nothing to prevent those groups from selling US weapons to Isil as … is their proven common practice.” Arming “non-state Islamic jihadi individuals”, the letter goes on, “is a clear violation of [UN] Security Council Resolution 2170 … that any co-operation to combat terrorism should be among the member states”.

Resolution 2170, passed last month, calls on member states “to suppress the flow of foreign fighters, financing and other support to Islamist extremist groups in Iraq and Syria” – identified in the UN document as Isis and the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra – and “to prevent fighters from travelling from their soil to join the groups”.

Syria, of course, insists no “moderate” opposition now exists in the country, a statement which carries the mark of truth, and that all opponents of Mr Assad’s rule were from the start Wahhabi-inspired Sunni jihadists – which was not in fact the case. Mr Laham’s letter – which could not have been sent without the approval of the regime – accuses Saudi Arabia, which funds Mr Assad’s enemies, of sponsoring schools which are “teaching the ideology of hate, ‘takfiri’ [a Muslim accusing a fellow Muslim of apostasy] and jihad as holy duty”.


Re-emphasising its own loathing of the Saudi regime, the Syrian letter says all “terrorists” are the product of “this Salafi, Wahhabi, jihadi ideology – from 9/11, to [the] Boston bombing, to the beheading of the two American journalists – beheading, which is a governmental legal practice in Saudi Arabia”. Mr Obama should not form any coalition outside UN Resolution 2170, “especially with states that have a conflict of interest due to their practised ideology.”

The letter may have been influenced by Khaled Mahjoub, a US citizen and Syrian businessman who is also a personal confidant of Bashar al-Assad, for it repeats Mr Mahjoub’s oft-quoted observation that only re-education of “terrorists’” families and communities through “loving Sufism” can rehabilitate those who use violence. Sufism, with its mystical poetry and its desire to find divine love, is regarded by many Syrians as the very opposite of “jihadism”; Sufi missionaries spread Islam into Africa and central Asia as well as India.

All of which is a far cry from the titanic civil war in Syria where “moderate” schools of Sufism take third place to military hardware and the Russian-Iranian alliance in the regime’s battle against Isis. In truth, Western intelligence agents have for many months now been in contact with their Syrian opposite numbers to secure the kind of collaboration in secret which the regime is now offering in public – though without, it has to be said, much success.

Come into my parlour, says the spider to the fly. For the Syrian regime’s web has proven far tougher than America and Europe imagined – and the principal fly has exhibited all the characteristics of weakness, fear and indecision which the Syrian spider understands. Only just over a year ago, the US was planning to smash the Syrian regime with bombs and missiles – and now that it wants to smash the Isis regime with bombs and missiles, Syria will exact a price for any collaboration.

$1


Monday, September 15, 2014

Bernie Sanders

Quasicrystals and the Whimsy of Nature - NYTimes.com

Quasicrystals and the Whimsy of Nature - NYTimes.com:



"Medieval Islamic artists made elaborate mosaics of tiles arranged in well-ordered patterns that never repeated themselves. But could such a pattern occur at the molecular level?"



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Burgers' equation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burgers' equation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:



"Burgers' equation is a fundamental partial differential equation from fluid mechanics. It occurs in various areas of applied mathematics, such as modeling of gas dynamics and traffic flow. It is named for Johannes Martinus Burgers (1895–1981). It is equivalent to the Navier-Stokes equation for incompressible flow with the pressure term removed.[1]"



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[0908.2752] Analysis and Computation of a Discrete KdV-Burgers Type Equation with Fast Dispersion and Slow Diffusion

[0908.2752] Analysis and Computation of a Discrete KdV-Burgers Type Equation with Fast Dispersion and Slow Diffusion:



 "The long time behavior of the dynamics of a fast-slow system of ordinary differential equations is examined. The system is derived from a spatial discretization of a Korteweg-de Vries-Burgers type equation, with fast dispersion and slow diffusion. The discretization is based on a model developed by Goodman and Lax, that is composed of a fast system drifted by a slow forcing term. A natural split to fast and slow state variables is, however, not available. Our approach views the limit behavior as an invariant measure of the fast motion drifted by the slow component, where the known constants of motion of the fast system are employed as slowly evolving observables; averaging equations for the latter lead to computation of characteristic features of the motion. Such computations are presented in the paper."



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A Discoverer as Elusive as His Particle - NYTimes.com

A Discoverer as Elusive as His Particle - NYTimes.com:



"EDINBURGH, Scotland — Peter Higgs, 85, who was widely expected to earn the Nobel Prize in Physics last year, decided to get out of town on the day the winners were announced."



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[1409.3566] Tracing chemical evolution over the extent of the Milky Way's Disk with APOGEE Red Clump Stars

[1409.3566] Tracing chemical evolution over the extent of the Milky Way's Disk with APOGEE Red Clump Stars:



 "We employ the first two years of data from the near-infrared, high-resolution SDSS-III/APOGEE spectroscopic survey to investigate the distribution of metallicity and alpha-element abundances of stars over a large part of the Milky Way disk. Using a sample of ~10,000 kinematically-unbiased red-clump stars with ~5% distance accuracy as tracers, the [alpha/Fe] vs. [Fe/H] distribution of this sample exhibits a bimodality in [alpha/Fe] at intermediate metallicities, -0.9<[Fe/H]<-0.2, but at higher metallicities ([Fe/H]=+0.2) the two sequences smoothly merge. We investigate the effects of the APOGEE selection function and volume filling fraction and find that these have little qualitative impact on the alpha-element abundance patterns. The described abundance pattern is found throughout the range 5

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Iraqi Leader Asks World Powers to Pursue ISIS in Syria - NYTimes.com

Iraqi Leader Asks World Powers to Pursue ISIS in Syria - NYTimes.com:



 "PARIS — President Fuad Masum of Iraq urged world powers on Monday to take the fight against the Sunni militants who have occupied much of his country to neighboring Syria."



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Sunday, September 14, 2014

[1409.3352] Friedmann's Equations in All Dimensions and Chebyshev's Theorem

[1409.3352] Friedmann's Equations in All Dimensions and Chebyshev's Theorem:



"This short but systematic work demonstrates a link between Chebyshev's theorem and the explicit integration in cosmological time t and conformal time η of the Friedmann equations in all dimensions and with an arbitrary cosmological constant Λ. More precisely, it is shown that for spatially flat universes an explicit integration in t may always be carried out, and that, in the non-flat situation and when Λ is zero and the ratio w of the pressure and energy density in the barotropic equation of state of the perfect-fluid universe is rational, an explicit integration may be carried out if and only if the dimension n of space and w obey some specific relations among an infinite family. The situation for explicit integration in η is complementary to that in t. More precisely, it is shown in the flat-universe case with Λ≠0 that an explicit integration in η can be carried out if and only if w and n obey similar relations among a well-defined family which we specify, and that, when Λ=0, an explicit integration can always be carried out whether the space is flat, closed, or open. We also show that our method may be used to study more realistic cosmological situations when the equation of state is nonlinear."



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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hispanic-Americans Work to Bolster Philanthropy at Home - NYTimes.com

Hispanic-Americans Work to Bolster Philanthropy at Home - NYTimes.com:



"According to the World Giving Index, Costa Rica is the highest-ranked Latin American country in terms of giving at 23 on the 2013 list. Mr. Beeck’s native Peru is ranked 74th, Mexico 76th and Argentina 78th. (France is 77th.) Brazil is tied for 90th, with Iraq, Mali and Mauritania."



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The World of Today

Climate change has affected Mexico in important ways. At least since 1997, with Hurricane Pauline, there has been a deterioration of Mexican's way of life. As one would expect, the poor suffer most.

During the 1968 student movement, I saw problems ahead: Mexican Revolution gone; new oligarchs getting more and more wealth, with  utter disregard of the conditions around them. Wasting money in Las Vegas, and other places catering to their banal pursuits.

The day of reckoning is here.

This month of September is very wet. Now we have Tropical Storm Odile  , on its way to become a Hurricane. Wealthy Mexicans flying to Las Vegas to witness a medieval fist fight.

I see the end, unless MORENA comes through.

Noam Chomsky | Owl of Minerva's View: ISIS and Our Times

Noam Chomsky | Owl of Minerva's View: ISIS and Our Times:



 "It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end."



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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Lost-and-Found Nomad Helps Solve the Mystery of a Swimming Dinosaur - NYTimes.com

A Lost-and-Found Nomad Helps Solve the Mystery of a Swimming Dinosaur - NYTimes.com:



"The first bones came in a cardboard box. Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist, was in the Moroccan oasis town of Erfoud at the edge of the Sahara, returning from a dinosaur dig in the sands. Inside the box, brought to him by a nomad, were sediment-encrusted pieces more intriguing than anything he had found himself, including a blade-shaped bone with a reddish streak running through the cross section. He took the bones to a university in Casablanca."



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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

After the atrocities committed against Muslims in Bosnia, it is no wonder today’s jihadis have set out on the path to war in Syria

Robert Fisk: The Independent


In 1993, walking across the Qasr el-Nil bridge in Cairo, I was stopped by a young man. Was I a reporter, he asked? Had I been in Bosnia? I told him I had just returned from Mostar. He was almost in tears. He wanted to help the Bosnian Muslim women who had been raped by the Serbs, he said. He wanted to go to Bosnia and marry one of them, to give her a “pure” life. He repeated this, over and over again. I tried to explain that he didn’t speak Serbo-Croatian, that many of the women were already married before their capture by the Serbs. Within minutes, however, a uniformed Egyptian police officer approached us and ordered the man to leave. “I am sorry,” he said to me. Why, I asked? Here was an Egyptian man who wanted to offer help to a Muslim woman.

The man’s crime, of course, was that he had been “radicalised”. He was deeply upset by reports of the mass rape of 20,000 Muslim women in Bosnia – the figure may have been exaggerated, but the West certainly did nothing to prevent these atrocities – and he wanted to do something about it. Perhaps he had heard that the Egyptian theologian Youssef Qaradawi, at a Zagreb conference on human rights in March of 1993, had urged young men to marry the victims of rape “to honour them”, as an Arab newspaper reported at the time, “and as a sign of respect for their sacrifice”.

I used to travel to the Balkan wars from Beirut via Budapest and would regularly return to Lebanon, still partly in ruins from its own 15-year war, to rest. I would swim, and read on my seafront balcony, and largely ignore the hideous photographs of Bosnian massacres on the front pages of the Arab press. Been there, seen that, I would arrogantly say to myself. And so I largely missed the expressions of fury and impotence of the Arabs in response to a genocide of Muslims which, for months after month, the West resolutely refused to prevent.

Going through those pages in the Beirut newspaper archives today, I find hundreds of articles demanding help for the outgunned and outnumbered Bosnian defenders, blaming the UN for both the partition of Palestine and the partition of Bosnia, comparing Bosnia with the Muslim expulsion from Andalusia, and praising Arab Muslims who – horror of horrors – had gone to fight for their Bosnian co-religionists. The Lebanese magazine as-Shiraa reported on the West’s sudden fear of “the ‘devil’ of fundamentalism” in Bosnia. The Emirati newspaper al-Ittihad claimed, with good reason, that governments of “the Islamic world” were copying the West – by doing nothing. It was the individual Arab who was prepared to fight for his Muslim brothers in the Balkans.

Bill Clinton refused an Iranian offer of battalions of regular troops to defend Bosnia – this would be unwarranted intervention in the affairs of Europe – but no one objected when guns arrived for Bosnian forces from Muslim countries. Hezbollah in Lebanon – though Shia – initially sent 150 volunteers to Bosnia, then Algerians arrived, fresh from fighting their own government. An entire mujahedin battalion emerged in the forests of Bosnia – the “muj” we journalists called them, rather superciliously – while individual Iranian fighters paid their own way to Sarajevo. The face of one of their martyrs occupies an entire apartment bloc wall in Tehran today.

Yet while the US State Department privately told us in Bosnia that “fundamentalism” – the horror word of the time – might take root in Bosnia, no one spoke of “radicalisation”. It was regarded as quite natural that Arab Muslims might want to help their Bosnian brothers and sisters, not least because, for at least two years, we intended to do nothing about it. It even worked for the “Christian” side in the war. I remember an ex-British soldier serving as a mercenary for the Croats – wearing his former Marine uniform, complete with green beret.

Obama, in Speech on ISIS, Outlines Significant Expansion of Fight - NYTimes.com

Obama, in Speech on ISIS, Outlines Significant Expansion of Fight - NYTimes.com:



 "WASHINGTON — President Obama said Wednesday night that he was ordering a significantly expanded military campaign against Sunni militants in the Middle East that includes American airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of nearly 500 more military advisers to Iraq. But he sought to dispel fears that the United States was embarking on a repeat of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."



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