Monday, December 24, 2012

'Fixer' movement fights today's throw-away society one tinker session at a time

Everything old is new again at the West Seattle Fixers Collective. From sewing machines to fans to lawn mowers, if it's broke, they'll try to fix it.

"It's just a group of us that like to get together and help each other fix whatever we own," said Greg Kono, who runs the group, which meets on the first Thursday of every month.

The concept started several years ago in the Netherlands, where people would come together about once a month, meet over coffee and bring in items they would like to have repaired. Members would learn how to fix the items or watch other volunteers who are handy and know how.

There are now more than 30 of these "repair cafes" in the Netherlands, and it’s picking up steam in the United States, with a handful of groups scattered across the country from Seattle to New York.

"I like the idea of reusing something that has already had a life, has already been built, already created most of its environment footprint," said Seattle group member Chris Loeffler, who brought his lawn mower in to be fixed.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/24/if-it-broke-fix-it-repair-cafes-bring-people-together-to-reduce-waste/?test=latestnews

Assault-weapons ban no guarantee mass shootings would decrease, data shows

Congress is poised to launch into a contentious debate next year over reinstating the assault-weapons ban.

In the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., already has vowed to introduce such a bill at the start of the session. President Obama is voicing support.

But crime trends over the past few decades offer a mixed verdict on whether renewing the ban would reduce the kinds of mass shootings that have spurred calls for its re-enactment in the first place.

Data published earlier this year showed that while the ban was in place, from 1994 to 2004, the number of mass shootings actually rose slightly during that period.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/24/history-gives-mixed-grade-to-impact-assault-weapons-ban/

Find room for God in fast-paced world, pope says on Christmas eve

Pope Benedict, leading the world's Roman Catholics into Christmas, on Monday urged people to find room for God in their fast-paced lives filled with the latest technological gadgets.

The 85-year-old pope, marking the eighth Christmas season of his pontificate, celebrated a solemn Christmas Eve mass in St Peter's Basilica, during which he appealed for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and an end to the civil war in Syria.

At the mass for some 10,000 people in the basilica and broadcast to millions of others on television, the pope wove his homily around the theme of God's place in today's modern world.

"Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him," said the pope, wearing gold and white vestments.

"The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full," he said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/24/us-christmas-pope-idUSBRE8BN0M620121224

Matt's thoughts:
Hear, hear. Merry Christmas everyone.

Oklahoma to Northeast: Major Snowstorm on the Way

All the ingredients are coming together for a major snowstorm to unfold Christmas Day and spread from the southern Plains to the eastern Great Lakes and Northeast.

Far more potent than the snow event headed to the Northeast just in time for Christmas, this storm will unload windswept and burying snow on its northwestern flank.

While snow will push through the Rockies--including Denver--into tonight, the worst of the snowstorm will take shape Christmas Day across the southern Plains.

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/major-multistate-snowstorm-com/3045354

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2 Rochester-area firefighters shot dead in ambush: Police chief says shooter had apparently set a trap for first responders

Two firefighters were shot to death and two others were wounded in an apparent trap at the scene of a house fire near Rochester, N.Y., today.

One shooter opened fire on the first firefighters to arrive, Webster police Chief Gerald Pickering said at a press conference. "It does appear that it was a trap that was set for first responders."

He wouldn't speculate on whether the shooter had any relationship to any members of the police or fire departments that might have prompted the shootings.

"There was some pursuit on foot," and the shooter was found outside the home on the north side of the road, Pickering said. No other people were being sought and the area is now safe, he said. Police recovered both a body and the weapon used. He wouldn't describe the weapon.

Pickering choked up as he named the two men who had been killed — one of whom was both a police officer and a volunteer firefighter — and the two firefighters who were in hospital.

The dead were identified as:

Lt. Michael Chiapperini, of Webster police and West Webster Fire Department.
Tomasz Kaczowka, a volunteer with the fire department.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/12/24/firefighters-shot-rochester.html

Benghazi Review: Systematic State Dept. Failures

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India's triumph: Sonali Mukherjee, acid attack victim, goes on TV game show and becomes millionaire


When Sonali Mukherjee spurned the advances of three of her fellow students, they responded by melting her face with acid.

But rather than hide herself away, the 27-year-old applied to appear on India's most-watched TV quiz show - and walked away a millionaire.

"If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too," Mukherjee tells AFP in her tiny home in the capital New Delhi.

"It's very easy for victims of acid attacks to swallow poison but I made the choice to stand up and scream and shout against the violence."

The recent gang-rape of a university student on a bus in New Delhi - which sparked angry protests across India - has again shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the levels of violence against women in the country, where sex assaults are often dismissed as mere "eve-teasing".

National crime records show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year were against women.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/15700650/acid-attack-victim-wins-millionaire%20quiz%20show/


Store Clerk Tackles Robbery Suspect

Australia: Fire at Wundowie fanned by strong winds, "under control"

Fire authorities say a blaze that is burning near Wundowie, north east of Perth, is now under control, after jumping containment lines.

The fire, which started yesterday, was fanned by strong winds and hot conditions.

It was burning on land north of Coates Road and heading towards Kingia Road.

A resident says flames were licking at his fence line and came to within 8 metres of his house, which was too close for comfort.

At one point, a number of houses in the area were under threat.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/15706762/fire-at-wundowie-flares-out-of-control/

New Zealand: Police confirm spy drone purchase

Police have confirmed to 3 News they have purchased a spy drone or unmanned aerial vehicle for use in criminal investigations.

They say at this stage the technology, used in war zones such as Gaza and Afghanistan, is only being trialled here.

Greg O’Connor of the Police Association says it is an innovative breakthrough for the force.

“It’s smarter, it’s cheaper, it’s more efficient,” he says. “Why wouldn’t police use it?”

Police initially refused to talk to 3 News about their potential use of drones, but more details were released after a complaint was submitted to the ombudsman.

It has now been revealed they have been working with Palmerston North company Hawkeye UAV Limited, which director Rolland Harrison says is running an international operation.

“We are operating now in countries as diverse as Mongolia, Turkey, South Africa, Canada and the United States,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of support from the Government.”

http://www.3news.co.nz/Police-confirm-spy-drone-purchase/tabid/423/articleID/281359/Default.aspx

Venice submerged in near-record floods

Yemen's Zinjibar free of Qaeda but insecurity rules

the 'Pompeii' of Japan: Scientists unearth body of 6th century Japanese 'warrior' who was buried by molten ash 'as he tried to calm wrath of erupting volcano'

The remains of a 1,400-year-old Japanese warrior wearing body armour has been found by archaeologists at a site known as the 'Pompeii of Japan'.

The body of the sixth-century Kofun-period man had been buried by hot ash from an erupting volcano and as a result has been well preserved.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2250023/Pompeii-Japan-Scientists-unearth-body-6th-century-Japanese-warrior-buried-molten-ash.html

China’s Oil Quest Comes to Iraq

While China's oil dealings with countries like Iran and Sudan receive global attention, its budding relationship with Iraq may turn out to be the most important.

A lot of attention has been paid in recent years to energy-hungry China’s billion-dollar bids on oil fields in Canada and the Asian giant’s reliance on oil from countries like Iran and Sudan to fuel its growing economy. But its growing interest in another major oil producer has gone largely unnoticed, and if current trends continue, that Middle Eastern country could become the world’s next “oil superpower,” with China, not the West, acting as both Iraq’s main partner and top beneficiary of its rich resources in what some now call the B&B trade axis

http://thediplomat.com/2012/12/02/china-introducing-the-middle-easts-future-hegemon/

The Wahhabi War on Indonesia's Shiites

Indonesia’s Shi’a minority is under heavy attack. Men, women, and children have been assaulted, schools damaged, and villages burned to the ground. Many have been killed.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Saudi Arabia’s intolerant brand of Wahhabi Sunni Islam—propagated far and wide by Saudi oil money—is behind most of assaults.

http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_wahhabi_war_on_indonesias_shiites

Greenspan Says Painless Solution to U.S. Debt is Fantasy

Reducing U.S. long-term deficits will inevitably cause economic pain, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

“The presumption that we’re going to have a painless solution to this, I think, is fantasy,” Greenspan said today during a “Bloomberg Surveillance” television interview with Tom Keene and Sara Eisen. “There are a lot of risks out there but the one thing I can be reasonably certain of is we won’t get through this whole issue without some pain.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-06/greenspan-says-painless-solution-to-u-s-debt-is-fantasy.html

US Debt - Visualized in physical $100 bills

More Cracks Appear for U.S. Dollar as Reserve Currency

Cracks are beginning to appear; the latest sign is that China and South Korea have come to an agreement in which banks from either country are able to borrow funds from a swap line that makes loans available to companies for deals in local currencies. (Source: “China, South Korea to Boost use of Local Currencies in Trade,” Bloomberg, December 4, 2012.)

This swap line is currently set at $59.0 billion, and allows firms to settle deals in either the Chinese yuan or the South Korea won instead of the U.S. dollar. On the surface, this might not seem like a direct attack on the U.S. dollar’s status as reserve currency, because reducing transaction costs is inherently advantageous to corporations. However, the willingness by these nations to increasingly avoid the U.S. dollar is a problem.

Shifts in the reserve currency status take many years to develop. We’ve seen rising U.S. debt levels for years, and this is putting increasing pressure on countries to diversify away from the reserve currency nation that is becoming increasingly irresponsible in the way it handles fiscal and monetary policies.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article37892.html

Europeans outraged over the US using Patriot Act for worldwide spying

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have condemned the United States for allowing the controversial Patriot Act to bypass foreign laws and let Americans intercept data from persons internationally.

In a just published study, Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act, researchers from the school’s Institute for Information Law say that legislation enacted to allegedly protect the security of US citizens has in the process eroded privacy protections on a global scale.

http://rt.com/usa/news/us-patriot-act-cloud-381/

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