28 December 2011

War Cry on Iran Thundering from the Right

The idea of attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, thundering in all its fury, comes from the neocons of the administration of former US President George W. Bush, a historian says.

"The Iran war is the brainchild of the neocons of the Bush-Cheney administration," Michael Carmichael wrote in an article, A Call for Peace: Say NO to America's Military Adventure, published in Global Research.

"Over the past eight years, our military intelligence establishment working hand-in-glove with other shadow agencies of other nations has been building up the notion of a casus belli against Iran predicated upon their allegedly clandestine nuclear arms program," he added.

Carmichael also pointed out that former US Vice President Dick Cheney argued for war against Iran as early as 2002 and 2003 in top secret meetings of the national Security Council.

He also warned that the Military-Industrial-Complex (MIC), which is advancing rapidly towards the robotification of war via drones for surveillance and targeted assassinations, is moving inexorably toward war with Iran.

The author also lashed out at the US and its ally Israel for beating the drums of war against Iran and creating "Iranophobia, a fear of the nation and people of Iran."

"If America and Israel were psychiatric patients, their condition would be described as delusional. Instead, our government and our obeisant media are doing everything in their power to brainwash the American people to inculcate into their psyches the fear of every molecule of Iranian origin," he said.

As the war rhetoric against Iran has intensified in the past week, the analyst concluded that "with the pace of war against Iran now thundering in all its fury, it is time to mobilize once again to demand peace."

Washington and Tel Aviv have repeatedly threatened Tehran with the "option" of a military strike, based on the allegation that Iran's nuclear work may consist of a covert military aspect.

Iran argues that it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

14 December 2011

In an Interview, President of Kaist Insists His Reforms Will Continue

This is an article about university studies in Korea and suicide rates.  It deals specifically with KAIST and its president's push for greatness.  Interesting and heartfelt.  Find it in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The year 2011 is one the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, better known as Kaist, will want to forget. It began when an undergraduate at the elite 40-year-old public university jumped to his death in January, the first of four student suicides during the winter and spring. In April, a middle-aged professor facing accusations of misappropriating research funds hanged himself.

The deaths sparked a bitter, long-simmering confrontation between Kaist's president, Suh Nam-pyo, and his faculty critics, many of whom blamed his policies for contributing to the student suicides. In a poll subsequently carried out by the university's Professors' Association, over a third of the faculty members—234 professors—said Mr. Suh should quit.

"I thought the sky was falling down," says Mr. Suh now, recalling the fourth student suicide and the outburst of criticism that followed. "But this type of difficult period had to come sometime. In some ways I'm glad it came up now, while I'm still here."

The 75-year-old Korean-American and MIT veteran has been a lightning rod for controversy since he arrived in 2006, importing U.S.-inspired reforms into a higher-education system widely seen as stagnant and closeted. The reforms made him an iconic figure in the clash between what was portrayed in the news media as a fight between old and new Korea, earning him direct support from the country's biggest newspapers and even South Korea's presidential office.

One of Mr. Suh's first decrees ordered the language of undergraduate instruction switched to English, a move that initially provoked gasps of disapproval but which has since been copied at other Korean universities. Mr. Suh also introduced a punitive tuition system, forcing the worst performing of the university's 10,000 students to pay part of their roughly $6,000 in yearly fees. Usually the government pays the entirety of the costs.

Kyung Chong-min, head of Kaist's Professor's Association, said those policies piled competitive pressure on undergraduates, making it inevitable that some would crack. "It's a terrible idea teaching all classes in English," he says. "It is just blocking the eyes and ears of the students. President Suh's problem is that he does not listen to others."

Such criticism didn't stop Mr. Suh from being elected last year—at age 74—to a second term, after four years that saw Kaist double its budget, more than double research income, and increase its faculty by a third. But the suicides forced the policy debate into the open, and led to the appointment of a 13-member council of students and professors that debated Kaist's direction over the summer.

Mr. Suh was compelled to blunt some of his reforms, including scrapping the tuition penalty system. "Since the suicides," says a spokeswoman for Kaist, "we have created a course called 'Happy College Life' to assist freshmen in their better adapting into a new environment of college life." And although the vast bulk of Kaist's science and technical classes are still taught in English, literature and some other courses have reverted to Korean.

The president insists, however, that he is still backed by the more reform-minded faculty. "Two-thirds are not in the camp" of the opposition, he says, a calculation he makes by adding those "in the middle" with his staunch allies. He says his own tough tenure-review system and aggressive recruitment drive—roughly 170 new professors since 2006—have created an "unstable" situation.

"Forty-nine percent do not have tenure. Some people got caught between the new and the old tenure policy," which automatically awarded tenure after seven years. He says it will take five to seven years for the university to stabilize, by which time most of his critics will have retired. "Many people who are in the forefront of this opposition are in their upper 50s," Mr. Suh says.

Perhaps the most damaging allegation thrown at Mr. Suh this year, however, is that he is personally profiting from his position. Mr. Kyung is one of several professors who say that the president registered in his own name dozens of patents associated with two prestigious research projects started under his tenure: a mobile hydraulic system that allows cargo to be offloaded from ships at sea and a pilot project for an electric public-transportation network, dubbed OLEV.

"In four out of 50 patents he is registered as the sole inventor," says Mr. Kyung, who led the search committee that recruited Mr. Suh from Boston in 2006. "He is paid a lot of money to be president, not a researcher."
Mr. Suh calls those claims "nonsense." "I didn't come here to make money. If that was my goal, I would have stayed in the U.S." He rejects accusations that he put his name on somebody else's invention. "It's all done under law and Kaist rules. I'm the first one to come up with the idea for OLEV and the mobile harbor," he says, adding that "every penny" he has earned outside of his presidency he has "given to Kaist."

The suicides rattled him, he admits, as did criticism from the parents of one student that the university should have been paying closer attention. But he adds that South Korea has one of the world's highest suicide rates, and students at elite American institutions are under far greater pressure: "At MIT, students pay $50,000 a year and have to get a loan or scholarship. Only 1.5 percent of our students pay fees at all."

It remains to be seen if those arguments will stamp out the fires of 2011, and allow him to see out his four-year term, a prospect Mr. Kyung called "very undesirable." Even he admits, however, that Mr. Suh has brought improvements, especially the competitive evaluation system for professors. "Nobody else would have been able to do that," Mr. Kyung says. "But we simply don't believe him anymore."

Mr. Suh refuses to rule out stepping down early and heading back to Boston, and says his goal remains the same: "I've been trying to make this one of best universities in the world. By any measure, we're doing well. But there are a lot of intense stresses, like an earthquake or volcano building up pressure. We have to clean up the mess created by the volcano."

09 December 2011

Is war with Iran inevitable?

The western world seems to be gearing up for an overt conflict with Iran. First, the UN bought the US argument to impose further sanctions. This was followed by several European countries withdrawing diplomats - obvious precursors for something in the works.

If and when the US gets involved, it should not surprise anyone. The US has been pushing for military action on Iran since the Islamic religious takeover of 1979.

Since 1979, the US government has made little to no effort to initiate diplomatic ties with Iran. Instead covert operations have been continuously enacted culminating in the downing of a US spy drone a few days ago.

The government's position on Iran has been set in stone since 1979 and there has been little done to effect change.

The true cost of sanctions and political posturing by both governments is felt the hardest by the Iranian people.

Economic sanctions do little to shake the resolve of the Islamic regime and at the same time deepen the resentment toward America. Sanctions and covert operations add more fuel to President Ahmadinejad's often intemperate behavior. But US policy also lends the Iranian regime more credibility.

Rather than seek to further divide the countries by removing diplomatic ties, now is the time to re-establish an ambassadorial presence.

But the current is swiftly moving against that. Many wogs in Washington are actually pushing for military operations initiated by Israel against nuclear facilities in Iran. Any attack will most certainly lead to a war in which the US is a key figure.

This is precisely what we should be working to avoid. But the war mongers and fear mongers are directing the show now.

Even though Pres. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize he shows very little interest in acheiving world peace. The US continues to terrorist attacks.  Why was a spy drone flying in the air space of a sovereign nation?  Can you imagine the hell that would break loose if a Chinese spy plane crashed in the Bible Belt?

The 2012 election won't change anything.  No Republican even has an inkling of peace. A vote for a Republican is a vote for a definite war.

Will any rational voices calling for diplomacy be heard over the pounding war drum?

It's doubtful.

07 December 2011

City in All Directions

Everywhere I look I see city in all directions
that sprawls and curves
in space and time like a
giant worm that winds around the
ephemeral lives and
devours everything in sight.

It’s the noise though that really incubates
in the recesses of the mind
in its corners and crevices
impossible to clean,
where the dirt builds up and buoys the slightest hope
that loneliness is temporary surrounded
by so many nameless faces
plastered, punctured, beaten, and trodden
in the belligerent city.

In all directions I see city,
a living mass of laborers and criminals,
of squealing children, and defenseless babies with flies on their eyes,
of indefatigable ants, squirming rats, and bacteria-dropping seagulls
grappling for food
sulkily sleeping and
in a daze from day to day
in the city, the noisy, gritty city.

Life is an unexpected find among the concrete
bricks that seemingly shut out the
air necessary for sustainable life
bitterly reserved
for the writhing primates
whimpering as cold
wind rips through the alleys
piled with weathered cardboard, metal boxes, aluminum cylinders,
feces and soot,
as the cement cracks
in the soiled, truculent city.

06 December 2011

Fish Dogs, the Tasty Korean Snack

Along with 번대기, Fish Dogs are among the more popular treats for squirmish Korean kids longing for something delicious.


Yummy, let's go get some right now, oma!

03 December 2011

Save BadgerCare

Contact: Bob Jacobson
December 1, 2011                                                                                                    
(608) 284-0580, x303              

50 Wisconsin Groups Unite to Call Upon Federal Government to Reject DHS Waiver

Madison- In an effort to prevent more than 64,000 Wisconsinites from losing their BadgerCare coverage, 50 groups from throughout Wisconsin, call on U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sebelius to deny the recent request from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) for a waiver of federal maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements. 

As outlined in the attached letter to HHS, a diverse and broad group of organizations urge rejection of the waiver for reasons including:

  • The waiver would jeopardize the care of 168,000 Wisconsinites, including more than 64,000 who are expected to drop out of BadgerCare.
  • Approving the waiver would cost 29,000 children their BadgerCare coverage.
  • The waiver would have disproportionate impact on people with disabling conditions
  • The waiver would harm many extremely low-income families.
  • The waiver would result in cost-shifting, not cost savings.
  • The waiver would increase red tape and reduce enrollment efficiency.

The Save BadgerCare Coalition also faulted the DHS process, which precluded an opportunity for meaningful public input, because the essential details of the proposal were not made available in advance of any public hearings.

Wisconsin has long been a national leader in ensuring that its residents have access to quality health care, and BadgerCare—an immensely popular and effective program--has been a major part of that success story. 

Approval of DHS’ waiver proposal would reverse that progress and would conflict with the goal of the health care reform law to make health care better and more affordable. 

To be connected with representatives from the signing organizations, or BadgerCare enrollees who can speak to the impact these changes will make in their lives, please contact Bob Jacobson.