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Monday, May 14, 2007

News of Interest 5/14/07

Man in the mask returns to change world with new coalition and his own sexy novel
'Mexico's politicians on both left and right receive nothing but his scorn. Is it easier to claim the moral high ground when your face is hidden? Marcos acknowledges that the mask helps, although he stresses it is also a burden. It can be itchy and uncomfortable, and it is so intertwined with his revolutionary persona that to take it off in public even for a few seconds would be the end of the subcomandante. "The mask will come off when a subcomandante Marcos is no longer necessary," he says. "I hope it's soon so that I can finally become a fireman like I've always wanted. Firemen get the prettiest girls."'
Link between race, hazardous-waste sites still strong
"Twenty years after a landmark study showed that people of color were more likely to live near hazardous-waste sites than any other demographic, a follow-up report has found that the disparity is even greater across the U.S. today. The problem is more entrenched in metropolitan Phoenix, where 63.7 percent of the residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to hazardous-waste facilities are of color, according to the new report commissioned by the United Church of Christ. Nationally, the figure is 56 percent. "
HAL 9000-Style Machines, Kubrick's Fantasy, Outwit Traders
"In his cubicle overlooking the trading floor, Kearns, 44, consults with Lehman Brothers traders as Ph.D.s tap away at secret software. The programs they're writing are designed to sift through billions of trades and spot subtle patterns in world markets. Kearns, a computer scientist who has a doctorate from Harvard University, says the code is part of a dream he's been chasing for more than two decades: to imbue computers with artificial intelligence, or AI. His vision of Wall Street conjures up science fiction fantasies of HAL 9000, the sentient computer in ``2001: A Space Odyssey.'' Instead of mindlessly crunching numbers, AI-powered circuitry one day will mimic our brains and understand our emotions -- and outsmart human stock pickers, he says."
As terrorism plots evolve, FBI relies on Agent John Q. Public
"Bureau officials said they are disappointed that more people don't come forward with tips. "In some ways, it's human nature," Weis said. "A lot of times people think that someone else will report it. But now, with the changing times, you can't take that chance." The FBI has spent millions of dollars cultivating a wide range of paid informants, particularly in Muslim communities."
Canadians lining up to join spy agency
'Whatever the motivation, more and more Canadians are lining up to become spies, the agency says. Last year, more than 14,500 people submitted applications for jobs in CSIS. Of that number, CSIS hired 100 as "intelligence officers" – or spies. "Is 100 all you needed or all you were able to find?" Senator Tommy Banks recently asked CSIS director Jim Judd. "It was actually more than we needed," Judd told the standing committee on national defence and security. CSIS is on a hiring blitz. The agency's staffing levels dropped because of federal budget cuts in the mid-'90s, but it has received millions of dollars in funding for new recruits since 9/11. "We are building a bit of flexibility into our capacity," said Judd. "I expect we will hire another 100 this year, and I expect the level of applications will be that high as well."'
Contingencies for nuclear terrorist attack
"As concerns grow that terrorists might attack a major American city with a nuclear bomb, a high-level group of government and military officials has been quietly preparing an emergency survival program that would include the building of bomb shelters, steps to prevent panicked evacuations and the possible suspension of some civil liberties."
New York Plan for DNA Data in Most Crimes
"The governor’s proposal would order DNA taken from those found guilty of any misdemeanor, including minor drug offenses, harassment or unauthorized use of a credit card, according to a draft of his bill. It would not cover offenses considered violations, like disorderly conduct. In expanding its database to include all felonies and misdemeanors, New York would be nearly alone, although a handful of states collect DNA from some defendants upon arrest, even before conviction. Mr. Spitzer is also seeking mandatory sampling of all prisoners in the state, as well as all of those on parole, on probation or registered as sex offenders."
Portrait of communist leader damaged
"A man threw a burning object at a portrait of Mao Zedong that hangs over Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, slightly damaging it and prompting police to close the nearby imperial palace, a news report said Sunday. The man, identified as Gu Hai'ou, from the northwestern city of Urumqi, tried to burn the portrait of communist China's first leader on Saturday afternoon, the Xinhua News Agency said. Early Sunday, authorities replaced the portrait, which had a small scorch mark in the lower left corner."



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