A desert sheikh has carved out a big name for himself — by having his moniker etched in capital letters visible from space. Workmen scoured "HAMAD" into the sand on the orders of Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. The name is two miles across — with letters a kilometre high. It is so huge that the "H", the first "A" and part of the "M" have been made into waterways. The mega-rich sheikh, 63 — a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi — in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates — boasts a £14billion fortune that is second only to the Saudi king's.
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The Indian company that launched the world's cheapest car has unveiled its latest product for the fast-growing nation: a flat-pack house that costs just $700 and can be built in a week. The Tata group, maker of the $2,500 Nano car, said that the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) home comes from a pre-fabricated kit that includes doors, windows and a roof. "We have already prepared two-three different designs based on discussions with users and are gathering more feedback," Sumitesh Das, the head of the project at Tata, told reporters in Hyderabad. "Hopefully, in the next six-eight months we should be able to roll it out in the market nationally." The basic model of a so-called "Nano" house will cost 32,000 rupees ($720) and will use coconut fibre or jute for wall cladding and interiors. It has a life expectancy of 20 years.
Between 50 and 100 inmates in solitary confinement at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison have pledged to refuse to eat until officials agree to better conditions. Isaac Ontiveros of the anti-prison group Critical Resistance explained the prisoners’ demands to DemocracyNow. “End the use of group punishment and administrative abuse; abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; comply with the commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement; provide adequate and nutritious food; and expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates.”
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After serving almost 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul told The Facts exclusively this morning he will not be seeking another term for the District 14 seat.
Paul, 75, will instead focus on his quest for the presidency in 2012. “I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election,” Paul said. “It’s about that time when I should change tactics.”
His announcement will give enough time for anyone with aspirations for his seat to think about running, he said. Paul didn’t want to wait for filing in the 2012 primary to let people know he wasn’t seeking reelection.
“I didn’t want to hold off until in December,” he said. “I thought it shouldn’t be any later than now.” Paul has served 12 terms in Congress.
Adam Cohen asks in TIME:
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Flogging someone with a cane causes intense pain and permanent bodily damage. An Australian who was flogged for drug trafficking in Malaysia in the 1970s recalled that the cane “chewed hungrily through layers of” his “skin and soft tissue” and “left furrows” on him that were “bloody pulp.”
It’s tough stuff and generally considered a barbaric punishment that the 21st century Western world would and should never consider. That makes it a bit startling to find a new book by a serious U.S. academic arguing that the U.S. should start flogging criminals. Peter Moskos’ In Defense of Flogging might seem like a satire — akin to Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” an essay advocating the eating of children — but it is as serious as a wooden stick lashing into a blood-splattered back.
Despite what you may think, Moskos is not pushing flogging as part of a “get tougher on criminals” campaign.
In the brave new world of cloud computing, where data is stored off-site in massive server farms instead of on a user's local hard drive, privacy and security are paramount in the consumer's mind. Unfortunately for privacy advocates, their concerns are essentially moot thanks to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which a key Microsoft official said recently permits the U.S. to spy on data stored within cloud servers across the European Union. The revelation of transcontinental spying, which has long been suspected, came from Gordon Frazer, Microsoft U.K.'s managing director, speaking at an announcement event for the company's new suite of office software. Frazer's admission was caught by ZDNet reporter Zack Whittaker, who's long covered data security issues as they relate to the Patriot Act.
[Site editor's note: Even though, they seemingly have called it quits, an intriguing swan song ... ] Andy Greenberg writes in Forbes:
… I noted a new suite of police-policing apps including OpenWatch and Cop Recorder, which turn your phone into a “reverse surveillance camera” for secretly recording run-ins with authority figures. Now it appears that police are well aware of those programs and others that complicate law enforcement, and at least some cops are none too happy about them.
That’s one of the revelations … by the hacker group LulzSec, which dumped a cache of files that it stole from the Arizona Police Department, calling Arizona a “racial profiling anti-immigrant police state.” A pair of documents among the hundreds leaked show concerns about how smartphones are being used for everything from recording interactions with police to evading speed traps.
One document labelled “Law Enforcement Sensitive” lists the following apps, and warns officers to “take the time to look at an arrestee’s cell phone to see what applications they have.”
Mark Mazzetti writes in the New York Times:
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The clandestine American military campaign to combat Al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen is expanding to fight the Islamist militancy in Somalia, as new evidence indicates that insurgents in the two countries are forging closer ties and possibly plotting attacks against the United States, American officials say.
An American military drone aircraft attacked several Somalis in the militant group the Shabab late last month, the officials said, killing at least one of its midlevel operatives and wounding others.
The strike was carried out by the same Special Operations Command unit now battling militants in Yemen, and it represented an intensification of an American military campaign in a mostly lawless region where weak governments have allowed groups with links to Al Qaeda to flourish.
The Obama administration’s increased focus on Somalia comes as the White House has unveiled a new strategy to battle Al Qaeda in the post-Osama bin Laden era, and as some American military and intelligence officials view Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia as a greater threat to the United States than the group of operatives in Pakistan who have been barraged with hundreds of drone strikes directed by the Central Intelligence Agency in recent years.
Via the Toronto Sun:
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John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death — according to the tragic Beatles star’s last personal assistant.
Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon’s death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.
In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.
He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.
“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event… Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that … He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.