Violent protests across Middle East targets embassies, Pope visit to Lebanon

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Published September 14, 2012

Anti-American violence flared Friday across North Africa and the Middle East, with Muslim mobs reportedly scaling the walls of the U.S. Embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, breaking windows and setting fires.

A Marine team, meanwhile, was on the ground in Yemen Friday as a “precautionary measure” in the wake of violence and protests in the capital city of Sanaa, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to Fox News. Protesters reportedly broke into the German Embassy in Sudan — pulling down its emblem and raising the Islamic flag — and demonstrators in Lebanon burned Kentucky Fried Chicken and Arby’s restaurants while chanting against the pope’s visit to Lebanon.

At least one protester was killed and 25 were injured in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli after clashes between police and protesters over an anti-Islam film, security officials said.

In Egypt, protesters in Ciaro’s Tahrir Square could be seen carrying a 4-foot-tall poster of Usama bin Laden, and graffiti reportedly found on the U.S. Embassy there read: “Take care America. We have 1.5 billion bin Ladens.” In Sudan, gunfire could be heard as protesters broke through a barrier protecting the U.S. Embassy outside Khartoum, according to eye witness accounts.

In Tunisia, meanwhile, protesters jumped over a wall surrounding the U.S. Embassy there, breaking windows inside the embassy and setting trees on fire. An eye witness told Fox News that police officers were firing tear gas at protesters, while flames could be seen shooting out of the embassy compound. It’s not known whether anyone is inside the building. Protesters also set fire to an American school in Tunis, Reuters reported.

Thousands of protesters in Cairo demonstrated blocks away from the U.S. Embassy on Friday, as the president went on state TV and appealed to Muslims to protect embassies, trying to patch up strained relations with the United States.

The protesters, who gathered after weekly Muslim Friday prayers, tore up an American flag and waved a black, Islamist flag through the streets. When protesters tried to move toward the embassy, they were confronted by lines of police who fired tear gas.

“With our soul, our blood, we will avenge you, our Prophet,” they chanted. Ahead of the clashes, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi spoke for more than seven minutes on state TV, his most direct public move to contain protests since an angry crowd assaulted the embassy Tuesday night, scaling its walls and tearing down the American flag.

“It is required by our religion to protect our guests and their homes and places of work,” Morsi said. “So I call on all to consider this, consider the law, and not attack embassies, consulates, diplomatic missions or Egyptian property that is private or public.”

He denounced the killing of American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, who died in an attack Tuesday night on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi along with three other Americans.

“This is something we reject and Islam rejects. To God, the attack on a person to Allah is bigger an attack on the Kaaba,” he said, referring to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.

The region is bracing itself for more protests after traditional mid-day Friday prayers over the anti-Islam film produced in the United States called “Innocence of Muslims.” The movie ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester. Morsi’s own Muslim Brotherhood group has called for peaceful protests to denounce the film.

A firebrand cleric with the beard of a Salafi Muslim, known for their ultraconservative views, blasted the film and in his sermon in Cairo’s Tahrir Square said it was upon Muslims to defend Islam and its prophet. Protesters have been clashing in Cairo with police since the unrest Tuesday night. More than 240 people have been injured in the clashes, including a number of policemen, and 31 people have been arrested.

In Sudan, a prominent sheikh urged people on state radio to protest outside the main mosque in Khartoum. Sheikh Mohammed Jizouly said protesters would then move to the German Embassy in the city center to protest alleged anti-Muslim scrawling on mosques in Berlin and then to the US embassy, just outside the capital, to protest the film.

“America has long been an enemy to Islam and to Sudan,” Jizouly said.

In Israel, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police have boosted the number of officers patrolling east Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s old city to thwart potentially violent protests following Muslim prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Protesters are expected to march to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.

A small, peaceful demonstration was held Friday outside the U.S. Embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

A prominent cleric in Indonesia has urged Muslims there to remain calm despite their anger about the film. But Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a branch of the international network that advocates a worldwide Islamic state, on its website blamed the U.S. government for allowing the film to be produced and released, calling it “an act of barbarism that cannot go unpunished.”

Meanwhile, a Libyan airport official said all flights to and from the eastern city of Benghazi were canceled due to security concerns. The airport official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Benghazi is where the attack on the U.S. consulate took place Tuesday.

Fox News’ Leland Vittert and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Anti-Islam Film Producer Wrote Script in Prison: Authorities

By , (@brianross) and CINDY GALLI

Sept. 13, 2012

The controversial “Innocence of Muslims” was written, produced and directed by a convicted drug manufacturer and scam artist, who has told authorities he actually wrote the script in federal prison and began production two months after his June 2011 release from custody.
Authorities say Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, of Cerritos, California, admitted his role in the film, after seeking help from law enforcement in dealing with death threats he has received since the release of the film. Excerpts from the film led to outrage and violence in the Arab world.
Authorities told ABC News that Nakoula told them he and his son, Abanob Basseley, 21, were responsible for producing the movie which, he reportedly said, cost between $50,000 and $60,000 and was shot in a little over 12 days.
Authorities say he claimed the money for the movie came from his wife’s family in Egypt.
Using the false name Sam Basile, Nakoula had told reporters earlier this week that he was an “Israeli Jew,” that the film had cost about $5,000,000, and that the money had come from wealthy Jewish friends.
Now he is “scared to death,” authorities told ABC News, and fearful that harm could come to his wife and other family members.

But most of the threats have been directed at him, authorities said.
According to California law enforcement officials the other members of the team that produced the movie are also fearful that harm could come to them. Authorities were seeking to talk to each of them.
Records obtained by ABC News show Nakoula was convicted of intent to manufacture methamphetamine in the 1990s, and also served time in federal prison on bank fraud charges, where he told authorities he wrote the script.
Sentenced to 21 months in prison and five years on probation, Nakoula was moved from the federal correctional complex in Lompoc, California to a halfway house in 2010, according to the website The Smoking Gun. He was released from federal custody in June 2011 and production on the film began just two months later at a soundstage in Southern California. 
(Reuters) – An eruption of violent unrest across the Middle East is confronting President Barack Obama with the most serious challenge yet to his efforts to keep the Arab Spring from morphing into a new wave of anti-Americanism – and he has few good options to prevent it.
The timing of the protests in Libya and the Arab world just after 911 anniversary together with the precision attack on American Libya embassy smells fishy of a plot, even the film-maker could be indirectly involved, to cultivate “Hate” in the muslim world against americans, but if it is not handled properly it could turn out to be a war between muslims and christians.
– Contributed by Oogle. 

S$3K for a dishwasher? Another PR exercise?

Last Friday, Sakae Sushi CEO Mr Douglas Foo went on UFM100.3 to talk about the difficulties of hiring locals in blue-collar positions. During the interview, Mr Foo complained that he was unable to find any cleaners despite a salary offer of $3,000 a month.
This sparked much public debate, with many netizens saying that it was too good to be true.
One member of the public was quoted in Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao as saying: “I used to be a manager and was only paid $2,500. A dishwasher earning $3,000 is unbelievable.”
However, when Mr Foo was approached by the paper for an interview, he not only dismissed the naysayers but also added that Sakae Sushi is looking to hire ten people to clear dishes and maintain the hygiene in the store.
They will also be required to come to work before the store opens daily to clean the premises and clear the rubbish bins.
Even though the restaurants are equipped with dishwashing machines, Mr Foo says that manual labour is still required to clear leftover food from the dishes.
Mr Foo said that candidates for the cleaning position have been unsuitable one way or another, and that there are 10 spots to fill.
On Wednesday, the company confirmed on its Facebook page that they are recruiting Singaporeans or permanent residents as dishwashers for $3,000.
In a status update posted at about 5pm, Sakae Sushi said:
“We would like to confirm that we are recruiting Singaporean or PR dishwashers for SGD 3,000”.
People who responded to the posting were sceptical and thought that it might have been a marketing gimmick.

I Not Stupid said

September 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm 
I agree with you. Maximum OT allowed per month is 72hrs. Sakae Sushi is breaking labour law and MOM is sleeping.
Secondly, can the boss stand 12hrs per day 6 days a week? If he can many of us also can.
I spoke to a waitress (Filipina) at a SS outlet. She said she was on S-Pass. I said so your pay must be S$2,000. Her reply: “No $1,200pm” Employer definately breaking a few laws!

unscrupulous Singaporeans bosses said

September 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm  
Is it true about the Filipina waitress?
If it is, then I strongly suggest that you get the Filipina to make a complain to MOM or maybe you can get MOM to investigate this company.
I heard many F & B companies are doing this.
I have also heard of foreigners doing delivery jobs for catering companies but yet holding S-Pass saying that they are managers.
Too many fishy things going on in this country over foreign worker quotas.
I wonder if MOM is aware of all these.

September 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm
This is a classic case of some employers trying to work up a case to continue hiring cheap FTs by not being sincere in what they claimed to the government, ntuc and the MSM. And all these so called talented leaders just swallowed everything they claimed and start blaming the local workers of being choosy. When put them on the line they changed tune and started to come up with all kinds of caveat. I hope this serve as a lesson for all our ministers not to jump to conclusion when they receive feedback and lobbying from employers and their associations. All of them were full of exaggeration to get attention.

Myron Chua wrote:
“Imagine 20k for a one day advertisement in the Straits Times. You can pay six months of the worker’s salary.
“This stupid idea help Sakae to be in the new and old media spotlight for weeks. Brilliant marketing there you got.
“They save so much money on advertisement.”
Chew Porridge wrote:
“You are recruiting and state that no one is willing to take the job.
“However, there are many people online that are interested. Why not have a post that states all the criteria clearly and start to recruit those who show interest? Or have a place for walk-in interviews?
“You don’t really need to explain those, if those are true, start posting the recruitment posters and hire people.
“Explaining so much but not recruiting at 3k per month is just making things worse.
“Of course, state all the criteria required like six days per week, 12 hrs per day, etc. Benefits too if possible, like number of days of leave available, meals provided. You are recruiting.
Furthermore, you are hiring a dishwasher for 3k but he has a lot more other job scope besides washing dishes.
“Don’t tell me you are paying someone 3k to do a three-man job.”
Low Shu Jun wrote:
“Lolx… I guess the idiom goes very well with this uproar, ‘any publicity is good publicity’.
“Sakae Sushi is famous now.”
Elan Govan wrote:
“Imagine working 12 hours continuously non-stop and standing too.
“It exceeds employment law regulations by a whopping 28 hours of COMPULSORY overtime just like the security industry.
“That is why these industries are facing the shortage. It is their own doing yet they glorify the lack of manpower.”

$3K for dishwasher? Another PR stunt! Just ask the other employees at SS and the truth will be known! Are they being paid higher than the dishwasher? NO!
– Contributed by Oogle.

MindMeld heralds the era of anticipatory computing

Tim Tuttle, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded web acceleration technology company Bang Networks and video search engine Truveo (acquired by AOL), has returned with his third startup, Expect Labs, which he co-founded with Moninder Jheeta (who built infrastructure for Truveo.) The company today announced its first product, an iPad app for simplified group conferencing called MindMeld that is built upon Expect’s core technology concept — anticipatory computing. Even as a demo, it is an impressive piece of technology that shows where the future of computing is headed.

Group conferencing like none other
MindMeld is an iPad app (for now) that uses Facebook’s open graph and identity to help create quick audio or video conferences. Add a few people and start talking. But here is where things get interesting: As you speak (or other participants speak), the app listens and starts surfacing information pertaining to what you are talking about.
For instance, if you are talking about an upcoming meeting with, say, someone like me, then in near realtime, it would show you my Wikipedia page, surface my recent blog posts, show GigaOM location on a map, and other such information. And as fast as the topic shifts, the system brings up relevant information for that new topic. Sometime in the future, the company will be able to access data from your Dropbox or Google Docs account and when it does, Cisco’s WebEx division should reach for a proverbial bottle of migraine medicine.
I got the demo of the application at a fairly noisy restaurant in my neighborhood, and even then, it kept offering suggestions and information pretty quickly. If there was a lag, it was due to AT&T’s LTE network, which isn’t as robust as advertised, especially in San Francisco. Put this app on a WiFi – which we did – and everything from picture quality to voice latency and information being pushed to the screen was pretty flawless. Sure, it was a demo on a system used by no more than a dozen people, including all eight of the company’s employees, but I have seem many demos in my time. Someday, Siri will work as flawlessly as this app and will get an A-plus from me.
Rise of anticipatory computing
The MindMeld app has me convinced about the capabilities of Tuttle and his crew. Yes, if you looked at the company just from the perspective of this app, its ambition might seem limited. Tuttle says what matters to him is that their platform (which he expects to unveil next year) is used by other apps that can integrate it using their API. But in order to showcase his company’s grand ambition, he needed an app and hence MindMeld.

Tuttle pointed out that unlike other semantic efforts that analyze usage history, their approach is to look at the past 10 minutes and then anticipate what users might need in the next 10 seconds. “We have a predictive model that changes second to second and surfaces relevant information without searching,” says Tuttle. He calls it “anticipatory” computing, and as far as I am concerned, “predictive” is the future direction of computing.
Tuttle started the company two years ago to develop a platform that would “continuously pay attention to what happens in your life and pick up ambient information and then start to surface relevant information.” Why? Because be believed that our computing habits were going from being desktop bound to completely mobile, and that would essentially mean a different usage behavior.
Sensors, data and mobile = complexity
With more devices and more sensors coming into our lives, the amount of data being generated will reach a point where the machines need to start anticipating our needs. Search as a way to access information doesn’t and won’t work — mostly because search can only respond to questions we ask. Also, if most of our computing is shifting to devices that are always with us, the idea of how to compute also has to change.
Tuttle, who did his Ph.D studies at the AI Labs (Artificial Intelligence Labs) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says the idea for the company came when he was fine-tuning his last company, Truveo. That company, which used speech-to-text technology and helped search video streams, has become one of top video search engines. Fast forward to today, the emergence of faster networks, cheaper (and reliable) cloud compute platforms and newer technologies has made it possible for Tuttle and his co-founder Jheeta to develop Expect’s platform.
They don’t go into great detail about their infrastructure, but say that at any given time during a call on MindMeld, there are multiple processing threads going, and they are pushing and pulling data over the network at a pretty rapid clip. They currently have based their system on Amazon’s EC2 and have built both voice and data communication layers in addition to using speech-to-text technology from a partner. Translation: they are using Nuance’s technology. For data (information) they tap sources such as YouTube, Yelp and Google.
Tuttle isn’t the only one thinking about anticipatory computing. Google recently launched Google Now, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see something similar to Expect’s approach show up when Google Glasses become mainstream. And other startups are working on making anticipatory computing a reality and coming up with new techniques that would simplify everyday computing tasks.
PS: Here are two links to videos that introduce you to the company and the app.

The bridge to Asia will flourish when N Korea opens up

Sep 8th 2012 | VLADIVOSTOK
THE bridge to Russky Island, a wooded swathe of land just off the coast of Vladivostok, is quite the architectural marvel. It is the longest cable bridge in the world, measuring 3,100 metres, it is as tall as the Eiffel Tower and it cost $1 billion to build. All of which may seem a bit much, given that only about 5,000 people call the island home.
But between September 7th and 9th dozens of heads of state and hundreds of business executives will gather there for this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum, meant to be Russia’s coming-out party in the Asia-Pacific region. As such, the bridge is a symbol of Moscow’s plans to develop Russia’s Far East and strengthen ties with Asia—its “most important geopolitical task”, according to President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow’s attention to its far-flung eastern territories has run in cycles over the years. The tsars built a 9,300km (5,800 mile) rail line from Moscow to Vladivostok. In Soviet times the Primorye region was an important military outpost, a centre of the fishing industry—and the site of many Stalin-era labour camps (many prisoners settled in the region after their release). In the 1990s the Far East fell into neglect and became one of Russia’s more dysfunctional regions, where, as once in America’s west, a bandit capitalism imbued locals with the rather un-Russian spirit of frontier self-reliance.
This attitude, combined with geographical isolation from the capital, explains the region’s feisty and independent politics. The street protests in Vladivostok in 2009 against higher import tariffs on used cars were among the largest in the Putin era until last winter’s demonstrations in Moscow. In the March presidential elections Mr Putin won just 48% of the vote in Primorye, compared with 64% nationally.
During the difficult years, many people simply left. By some estimates, the region has lost as much as 20% of its population in the past two decades. Only 6m people live there today—compared with 130m in the three Chinese provinces on the other side of the border. That huge gap has triggered fears among officials in Moscow of a Chinese takeover, although this seems far-fetched, given that only a tiny minority of the region’s population is Chinese.
At any rate, Russia’s plans for developing its Far East are based not on fears of a growing China, but on the region’s potential. With Europe’s crisis deepening and Asia’s demand for energy and raw materials rising, it has dawned on Mr Putin “that Russia’s least-developed area abuts the world’s most dynamic region”, in the words of Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Centre. He thinks that the Pacific Ocean could become for present-day Russia what the Baltic Sea was for the country in the age of Peter the Great: a source of wealth and a gate to modernity.
Russia’s Far East is certainly rich in resources, including metals, minerals and timber. It is also well placed to be a transit and logistics hub for shipping Russian oil and gas onward to Asia and Asian-made goods deeper into Russia. And the soaring new airport in Vladivostok, as well as the city’s upgraded network of roads and bridges, are a boon to regional trade—not to mention city life.
Yet the region is also a microcosm of Russia, plagued by the problems that impede business everywhere in the country. “In order to create a factory that’s 100 square metres, you need 100 square metres of documents,” an Asian diplomat laments. Cumbersome customs procedures and poor rail links explain why the export capacity of Vladivostok’s port is minuscule compared with similar ports in neighbouring countries.
Tales of corruption abound, in particular of cases that allegedly happened under the rule of Sergei Darkin, who held the post of governor of Primorye for more than ten years until February. When a South Korean firm wanted to bid for a project in the run-up to the APEC forum, an often-told story goes, it was asked to pay bribes double the amount that the firm calculated it would earn from the job.
The new governor, Vladimir Miklushevsky, in contrast, is seen as competent and appears to recognise these problems. He pledges to take “a different look at investors” and to minimise “administrative barriers”, from border controls to logistics at the port. But he is said to lack ties and authority with local elites that undergird politics and business in Russia’s Far East.

Some also wonder who will pay for the upkeep of the high-profile construction projects built ahead of the APEC meeting when Mr Putin’s attention moves on. “A lot of money has been spent irrationally,” worries Natalia Zubarevich of Moscow’s Independent Institute for Social Policy. The campus built for the summit will soon be the home of the Far East Federal University. But federal spending in the region is set to taper off, after having trebled between 2008 and 2011 to reach $21 billion.
The biggest question is whether Russia’s Asian partners care as much about their neighbour as it does about them. Natural resources and energy are of interest, but many Asian countries already have diverse supplies of these. Relations with China, for instance, have become ever less a partnership of equals, with the influence of China’s government now eclipsing that of Russia’s, says Bobo Lo, an expert in relations between the two countries.
With the APEC summit and related investments, Russia has proved that it can pull off big projects in its Far East. Now the region needs less visible, but equally important efforts to improve local governance and economic rules. Otherwise the Russky Island bridge and the rest of Vladivostok’s facelift will become a symbols of how the Kremlin’s rhetoric and ambition went astray in the vast eastern wastes.

BAE Systems' Adaptiv infra-red 'invisibility cloak'

To be truly invisible, there exists present technology that could minimise the invisible sheets so thin it could wrap around vehicles and aircrafts, not only could you hide from IR detection devices, you could truly be camouflaged from line of sight by mimicking your surroundings, the technology lies in having two different outputs on a single surface, which can detect if a weapon is trained at it, to respond with a corresponding output. – Contributed by Oogle.