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Insight: Electric Cars Head Toward Another Dead End

TOKYO/DETROIT | Mon Feb 4, 2013 1:13am EST

(Reuters) - Are electric cars running out of juice again?

Recent moves by Japan's two largest automakers suggest that the electric car, after more than 100 years of development and several brief revivals, still is not ready for prime time - and may never be.

In the meantime, the attention of automotive executives in Asia, Europe and North America is beginning to swing toward an unusual but promising new alternate power source: hydrogen.

The reality is that consumers continue to show little interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, which dominated U.S. streets in the first decade of the 20th century before being displaced by gasoline-powered cars.

Despite the promise of "green" transportation - and despite billions of dollars in investment, most recently by Nissan Motor Co - EVs continue to be plagued by many of the problems that eventually scuttled electrics in the 1910s and more recently in the 1990s. Those include high cost, short driving range and lack of charging stations.



Obama Says Assault Weapons Ban Deserves A Vote In Congress

Source: Reuters

MINNEAPOLIS | Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:38pm EST

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Monday to at least hold a vote on banning assault weapons, the most contentious part of his plan to curb gun violence in the United States.

Obama's comments suggested a realization in the White House that it will be difficult to get such a ban passed by lawmakers, despite consistent public support for the measure.

Opposition is high in Congress, including among some Democrats, and by calling simply for a vote, Obama seemed to acknowledge that even getting that far - let alone having an assault weapons ban approved - would be a struggle.

"We should restore the ban on military style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines. And that deserves a vote in Congress, because weapons of war have no place on our streets," Obama said as uniformed law enforcement officers stood behind him at the Minneapolis Police Department's Special Operation Center.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/04/us-usa-guns-obama-idUSBRE9130KL20130204

Report: Fewer IDF Soldiers Held Accountable For Alleged Crimes Against Palestinians In 2012

In the wake of recent events, Yesh Din has published a new data sheet about criminal accountability of IDF soldiers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The data indicates a clear downward trend in the rate of indictments served: in the years 2009-2011 indictments were served following 2.5% of the investigations opened into alleged offenses committed by Israeli soldiers while in 2012 not a single Military Police Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID) investigation resulted in an indictment.

The data sheet, based on information provided to Yesh Din by the IDF spokesperson, as well as the organization’s ongoing research, shows the following:

In 2012 the MPCID received 240 complaints and various reports of suspected crimes allegedly committed by IDF soldiers against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The MPCID opened criminal investigations into 78 of the 240 reports it received. Another 25 investigation files were opened that year into reports received in 2011. The MPCID opened a total of 103 criminal investigations in 2012.



McCain: Don't Filibuster Hagel

By MANU RAJU and DAVID ROGERS | 2/4/13 4:53 PM EST Updated: 2/4/13 6:13 PM EST

Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.

The Arizona Republican, who has been a prominent voice in the debate over Hagel, said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel’s confirmation.

“I do not believe that we should filibuster,” McCain told POLITICO. “To vote against is entirely the judgment of each individual senator, but a filibuster I think would be inappropriate.”

Asked if he would vote for cloture if a filibuster were mounted, McCain answered, “Yes.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/mccain-dont-filibuster-hagel-87159.html#ixzz2Jyda7yrT

Media Hate Fest for Venezuela Keeps on Keepin' On

By Mark Weisbrot, Al Jazeera | Op-Ed

Last week there was a real media hate-fest for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, with some of the more influential publications on both sides of the Atlantic really hating on the guy. Even by the hate-filled standards to which we have become accustomed, it was impressive.

It's interesting, since this is one of the only countries in the world where the reporting of the more liberal media - NPR or even the New Yorker - is hardly different from that of Fox News or other right-wing media (more on that below).

The funniest episode came from El País, which on Thursday ran a front page picture of a man that they claimed was Chavez, lying on his back in a hospital bed, looking pretty messed-up with tubes in his mouth. The picture was soon revealed as completely fake. Oops! The paper, which is Spain's most influential publication (and with a lot of clout in Latin America, too), had to pull its newspapers off the stands and issue a public apology. Although, as the Venezuelans complained, there was no apology to Chavez or his family. Not surprisingly, since El Pais really hates Chavez.

The New York Times, for its part, ran yet another hate piece on its op-ed page. Dog bites man. Nothing new here, they have doing this for almost 14 years - most recently just three months ago. This one was remarkably unoriginal, comparing the Chavez government to a Latin American magical realist novel. It contained very little information - but being fact-free allowed the authors to claim that the country had "dwindling productivity" and "an enormous foreign debt load". Productivity has not "dwindled" under Chavez; in fact real GDP per capita, which is mostly driven by productivity growth, expanded by 24 percent since 2004 (for an explanation of why 2004 is a reasonable starting point, see here). In the 20 years prior to Chavez, real GDP per person actually fell. As for the "enormous foreign debt load", Venezuela's foreign public debt is about 28 percent of GDP, and the interest on it is about 2 percent of GDP. If this is enormous - well let's just say these people don't have a good sense of quantity.


So, Just How Powerful Is The Israel lobby In The US?

As public grovels go, this one was pretty spectacular. Former Senator Chuck Hagel, who may or may not become the next US Secretary of Defense, was back in his old haunts on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearings, trying to explain a remark he made a few years back, that "the Jewish lobby intimidated Congress" and did some "dumb things".
Name a "dumb thing", he was asked by Lindsey Graham, his Republican colleague for six years until 2009 – though you wouldn't have guessed it from the venom of the exchanges on Thursday. Hagel couldn't. Graham persisted. "Name one person who's intimidated by the Israel lobby in the United States Senate." A taut silence, then Hagel limply responded, "I don't know."

Public hearings, especially confirmation hearings, are one of the great shows of Congress. Hagel's made especially good theatre, largely because the reek of treachery was in the air. Here was a Republican who had abandoned his party and colleagues like Graham and John McCain, his one-time friend and fellow Vietnam war hero, by turning against the Iraq war begun by a Republican president.

Worse still, Hagel had backed Barack Obama, not McCain, in the 2008 election, even accompanying the Democratic candidate on a high-profile campaign visit to Iraq and Israel. And now here he was, back on Capitol Hill as Obama's choice to lead the Pentagon, about to collect his 30 pieces of silver. If anything, McCain's own grilling of his former pal was even more poisonous.

In the end the public drama may make little difference. Hagel did pretty poorly, seeming to be taken aback by the hostility of the Republicans, even though the latter had made no secret of it beforehand. But performances at confirmation hearings rarely change minds – and even more rarely is a President's nominee to an important post actually rejected. The Democrats and their allies hold a 14-12 majority on the Armed Services Committee, and 55 of the 100 Senate seats. That should be enough. The only way Republicans can block Hagel is by using the filibuster to prevent a final vote on the floor.



Stateless in the Age of Islamophobia

Twenty-eight-year-old Tareq Abufayyad was greeted by high-ranking American and Egyptian diplomats when he stepped off a private plane that had landed in Cairo's international airport, just after sunset on June 27, 2011. Tareq had spent the last four and half years - the years that might have been the heady time of his young adulthood - languishing in California county jails, although he was never convicted of a crime.

"I thought, freedom. I need freedom; I need fresh air and sun. Just give me my freedom," Tareq recollected in an intervew with Truthout via Skype from his home in Gaza in September, 2012.

Wearing the same clothes he had on when he had traveled to the United States for the first time in 2007 - blue jeans, a dark yellow jacket and collared shirt - Tareq waited in the Cairo airport through the night, waited for the sun to rise and the buses to begin operating. He, along with other travelers, would take a 10-hour bus trip from Cairo to Gaza's Rafah crossing, opened only weeks earlier by the then-new interim Egyptian government, put in place following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

After arriving in Gaza, a place he had not been for nearly 10 years, Tareq would soon discover that he would not be allowed to leave the blockaded coastal enclave.
Back in 2007, all of the members of Tareq's family were US citizens of California, and he had been on his way to join them after finishing college. Tareq had been excited to reunite with his family, and, equipped with a US entry permit granted prior to his departure from Cairo, he anticipated no problems entering the States, where he intended to continue his schooling and work on his English.

That is not what happened



Florence Arizona Student Suspended Over Picture Of Gun

FLORENCE, AZ - A high school student in Florence said he has been suspended because of a picture of a gun.

Daniel McClaine Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School, said he saved the picture as his desktop background on his school-issued computer.
A teacher noticed it and turned him in.

The picture shows an AK-47 on top of a flag.

McClaine said the school initially suspended him for three days Friday.

Since the laptop belongs to the school, the district policy states students are prohibited from “sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures,” and cannot access, send, create or forward pictures that are considered “harassing, threatening, or illegal.”

Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_central_southern_az/florence/florence-student-suspended-over-picture-of-gun#ixzz2JsRpda6c

Ahmadinejad To Make First Egypt Visit By Iran Head In Decades


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Cairo next week, becoming the first Iranian president to travel to Egypt since Iran’s 1979 revolution ruptured diplomatic ties between the two most populous countries in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad will head Iran’s delegation to a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo, said Amani Mojtaba, head of Iran’s interest section in Cairo, which it maintains in the absence of an official embassy.

“I hope that Iranian-Egyptian relations return to the full diplomatic level,” he told Reuters.

The trip follows a visit by Egypt’s new Islamist President Mohammed Mursi to Iran in August last year, when the two leaders agreed to reopen official embassies.

Tehran broke off relations with Cairo in 1980, a year after both Iran’s revolution and Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel.

Read more: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/02/264009.html

Scores Of Harvard Students Suspended In Cheating Scandal


Around 60 Harvard University students were suspended “for a period of time” after cheating on a final Congress exam, the school’s administration said on Friday. As many as 125 students were implicated when the scandal broke last year.
By News Wires (text)

Harvard University said Friday it issued academic sanctions against about 60 students who were forced to withdraw from school for a period of time in a cheating scandal that involved the final exam in a class on Congress, drawing criticism from a high-profile alumnus.

The school implicated as many as 125 students in the scandal when officials first addressed the issue last year.

The inquiry started after a teaching assistant in a spring semester undergraduate-level government class detected problems in the take-home test, including that students may have shared answers.

Read more: http://www.france24.com/en/20130202-dozens-students-harvard-university-suspended-cheating-scandal-usa

"Take home tests"...seriously? Wish we had 'take home tests' back in my day...
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