China tops US, Japan to Be Top Patent Filer

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Lee Chyen Yee

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China became the world’s top patent filer in 2011, surpassing the United States and Japan as it steps up innovation to improve its intellectual property rights track record, a Thomson Reuters research report showed on Wednesday.

The report said the world’s second-largest economy aimed to transform from a “made in China” to a “designed in China” market, with the government pushing for innovation in sectors such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals and technology.

However, legal experts said China would need to do more before it can lead the world in innovation as the quality of patents needed to improve.

The government provided attractive incentives for companies in China to file patent applications, regardless of whether a patent was eventually granted, they said.

“The idea of subsidizing patents is not bad in itself, however it is a blunt instrument because you get high figures for filings, but it does not tell you anything about the quality of the patents filed,” said Elliot Papageorgiou, a Partner and Executive at law firm Rouse Legal (China).

“One thing is volume, quality is quite another. The return, or the percentage of grants, of the patents is still not as high in China as, say, in the U.S., Japan or some places in Europe,” he said.

The Thomson Reuters report said published patent applications from China were expected to total nearly 500,000 in 2015, following by the United States with close to 400,000 and Japan with almost 300,000.

Published applications from China’s patent office have risen by an average of 16.7 percent annually from 171,000 in 2006 to nearly 314,000 in 2010, data from Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index showed.

During the period, Japan had the highest volume, followed by the United States, China, Korea and Europe, the report said. It did not give figures for 2011.

“The striking difference among these regions is China — it is experiencing the most rapid growth and is poised to lead the pack in the very near future,” it said.

Of total patents filed in China, the percentage of domestic applications rose to nearly 73 percent in 2010 from less than 52 percent in 2006, indicating that Chinese companies have outpaced foreign entities in the patent boom.

In terms of patents overseas, Chinese companies have also been climbing in the rankings, according to data from the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).

In 2010, China’s No.2 telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp was second on the list of applicants, ranking just behind Japan’s Panasonic Corp.

U.S. chip maker Qualcomm Inc came in third, while China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s second-largest telecom gear maker, was fourth, according to WIPO.

Chinese companies have been trying to be more innovative as they transform from contract manufacturers to regional and global brand names producing higher end products to improve margins.

Patent filings have also increased among Chinese companies due to legal battles that they have had to fight, especially in the telecommunications sector. For instance, Huawei and ZTE have been embroiled in patent disputes over fourth-generation wireless technology.

(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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Community News (V13-I44)

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Rehan Khan new Northeastern VP

rehankhanBOSTON,MA–Northeastern University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Stephen W. Director, has appointed Rehan Khan to become the University’s new vice president and chief information officer. Khan, who begins his new role on Nov. 14, is currently the associate provost and chief information officer at West Virginia University.

In an email to faculty and staff, Director noted that “Rehan will oversee the strategic vision and leadership for Northeastern’s information technology and services that serve as vital components in supporting administrative, academic and leadership functions.”

Khan is also charged with enhancing Information Services to meet the growing needs of the Northeastern community, which relies on its vital services for everything from classroom instruction and research to conducting critical administrative duties.

“In order to attract and retain the best faculty and students and remain competitive in academics and research, it is essential that planning and investments in technology infrastructure remain a high priority,” said Khan. “Technology plays a key role in pedagogy, research, health care and service. I look forward to developing strategies that improve and enhance our services. I am very excited to join Northeastern.”

IS provides central information technology to more than 25,000 students, faculty and staff who use Northeastern’s secure, high-speed connectivity to the Internet through the on-campus network. IS also provides a range of other services, such as wireless connectivity through NUwave, robust high-speed Internet in residence halls, the popular 24/7 InfoCommons computing facility, access to the Blackboard instructional tool, myNEU access and academic and administrative software applications.

At West Virginia University, Khan was responsible for upgrading the institution’s core network to 10G/s, as well as the IT infrastructure in the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences. He was also responsible for implementing an identity and access management system, a degree audit system, and launching a shared computational high performance computing (HPC) facility.
Prior to West Virginia University, Khan worked at the University of Georgia, Emory University’s School of Medicine, and at Dartmouth Medical School, as well as in several private-sector information services roles.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Massachusetts in 1981, and an MBA from Rivier College in New Hampshire. He was a 2006 Fellow at the Woodruff Leadership Academy at Emory University.

Harvard Muslim students dissatisfied with halal options

CAMBRIDGE,MA–Muslim students at Harvard have expressed their dissatisfaction with the halal options available on campus. The Crimson student newspaper reports that many students have completely given up eating on campus or have switched to a vegetarian diet.

Although Harvard University Dining Services has taken some steps to accommodate Muslims in dining halls, some students say the University could do more.

“The Muslim community is growing. There are many more Muslim students than there were a decade ago, or even five years ago,” says Abdelnasser Rashid ’12, a former president of the Harvard Islamic Society. “That’s something that [Harvard University Dining Services] and HIS should be talking about.”

Dr. Raza Dilawari Remembered

MEMPHIS,TN–Dr. Raza Ali Dilawari was the assistant dean for clinical affairs at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences and the vice chairman of the department of surgery at Methodist University Hospital. He died Sept. 18, ten days before what would have been his 65th birthday, and was described as the premier surgical oncologist in the MidSouth in the obituary published in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. Dilawari, a native of Pakistan, practiced surgical oncology and taught in Memphis for 35 years. His areas of academic interest were in the fields of breast cancer, melanoma and hepatobiliary malignancies, and he was the author of more than one hundred peer-reviewed publications, the obit said. He represented University of Tennessee Cancer Institute on the NCCN Melanoma/Thyroid/Colorectal Cancers. Significantly, he was the recipient of the 2005 Living Award from the Methodist Healthcare Foundation. According to the obit: It is not difficult to find Memphians who have a story about how he helped them or a loved one.

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New Initiatives: “The Muslim Element”

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviAs the times progress and technology develops, different and new ways are being found to accomplish age-old goals. From teaching children their A-B-C’s, to distance education, to social interaction—the amount of new and innovative means to accomplish these ends are innumerable. Everyone is looking for less traditional, and more creative ways to cater to society’s interests, in particular, those of the youth.

A group of youth from New Jersey has identified with and understood this phenomenon, and has undertaken the task of using newer, more creative technology to develop a positive sense of brotherhood between Muslim youth, as well as youth of other religious and cultural backgrounds. “The Muslim Element” (The Mu for short), as they call themselves, is an initiative founded in 2010 to provide products that express their religious as well as universal humanitarian beliefs. They are currently focused on providing clothing that embodies various messages, the goal being to positively affect the lives of youth by allowing them to connect to their religion through the use of a more creative and modern medium. The Mu garners no profit from their sales: every penny generated by the organization is used either for the creation of new products and t-shirts, or is given back to the community in the form of charitable donations or sponsorship of events at local Islamic centers.

Muslim_ElementThe Muslim Element has developed three products thus far, one of which being a “Freedom” t-shirt, sold in early 2011, when revolutions were sparking across the Islamic world. This shirt helped to get youth involved in promoting the idea of freedom and justice in a more innovative and creative manner than before. Even if they could not physically attend rallies to demand freedom for those innocents being oppressed in countries across the world, they could display their support of justice and truth to everyone they met through the clothing they wore.

Initiatives such as these are necessary for reaching out to new generations of youth. The Muslim Element supports the enlightenment of Muslims—especially the younger generation living in the West—and aims to show them through messages embodied in clothing that they should take pride in who they are and the beautiful messages of truth and justice, propagated by the religion they believe in. In this way, says their mission statement, they hope to help the youth to “remain vigilant in understanding their faith and their humanity, develop an awareness of relatable and current topics in the world, and actively propagate truths and dispel misconceptions about the beautiful religion of Islam.”

More information about this initiative, as well as vending information for your local center, can be found online at: www.facebook.com/TheMuslimElement

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ANALYSIS-India Eyes Diplomacy and Private Sector to Woo Africa

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Henry Foy and Aaron Maasho

NEW DELHI/ADDIS ABABA, May 27 (Reuters) – Bereft of China’s riches, India is banking on diplomacy, development and its entrepreneurial private sector to woo African nations to open markets and natural resources to Asia’s third-largest economy

New Delhi has promised billions of dollars in development support, financing for infrastructure projects and the building of educational and training institutes as it positions itself as the alternative to Beijing.

India enjoys historical ties with some African countries, but became a mere observer when China came calling for resources and energy, with financial riches New Delhi could not match.

China boasts foreign exchange reserves of more than $3 trillion, 10 times India’s $307 billion, and has aggressively used state-owned development banks to invest heavily in oil, gas and other resources across the continent.

But after being caught cold by China, and losing a series of bids for oil rights and infrastructure projects to its Asian rival, India is banking on a new approach to Africa that blends trade and investment with development economics.

“India’s approach is reciprocal, expecting access to resources in exchange for developing technology and training Africa’s human resources. That’s how India is different to other foreign powers,” said Suresh Kumar, head of the Department of African Studies, University of Delhi.

“In providing education, technology, development and security, India is a complete partner.”

Like China, India has posted high economic growth rates since 1990 and the economy in a country of 1.2 billion people is now expanding at more than 8 percent a year. Resources from Africa are seen as crucial to help sustain growth.

Total trade between India and African countries stood at $46 billion last year, still less than half of China’s $108 billion in 2008, but a huge increase on $3 billion in 2000-1. India says it will reach $70 billion by 2015.

Beijing also leads the way in diplomatic terms, with 42 embassies across sub-Saharan Africa, double India’s diplomatic presence of only 21 embassies, a report from the London-based Chatham House think-tank said.

Indian is keen to trumpet its cultural links with African countries, citing a shared history of imperialism and trade routes established hundreds of years ago.

The Indian diaspora in Africa tops 2 million people, but it is mainly concentrated in South Africa, the Indian Ocean and some countries along the Eastern seaboard such as Kenya.

“The private sector is pushing the Indian government to engage on Africa more consistently and to expand its network,” said Alex Vines, head of Chatham House’s Africa Programme.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a six-day trip to Ethiopia and Tanzania this week, pledged $5 billion over three years in development support, $700 million for new institutions and training programmes and $300 million for an Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line.

“India can be blamed for waking up late to the African opportunity, but can make up for lost time by projecting itself as a more humane investor than its northern neighbour,” wrote India’s Hindustan Times newspaper in an editorial.

While India, and other emerging economies, see Africa as an important supplier and customer to drive growth, it is a sign of New Delhi’s growing global economic and political clout, that it is seeking to play a leading role in Africa’s development.

“Africa is determined to partner in India’s economic resurgence as India is committed to be a close partner in Africa’s renaissance,” said the declaration after the second Africa-India summit in Ethiopia this week.

India’s state-run oil firms are beginning to invest in countries including Nigeria and Kenya, coal and diamond firms have invested across the continent, and new embassies in Niger and Malawi have been opened to assist firms with securing uranium for India’s fast-growing nuclear power industry.

India is also keen to leverage its global expertise in the information technology, agriculture and human resource sectors in helping African countries, many of which face similar developmental hurdles that India itself is grappling with.

While China has snapped up resources through governmental agreements, India’s government wants the private sector to spearhead the push to secure investments across the continent.

“India’s engagement with Africa is completely different with that of China. With China its state-to-state, even if the investors are private companies,” said Zemedeneh Negatu, Ernst & Young’s Managing Partner for Ethiopia.

Indian telecoms firm Bharti Airtel spent $9 billion acquiring Zain’s African assets last year, with a view to implementing strategies in Africa that were developed in the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.

Largely thanks to the Bharti deal, India was the most acquisitive nation in Africa in 2010.

With African consumer spending set to nearly double to $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to McKinsey and Co., Indian consumer goods makers are also pushing hard across the continent.

Godrej Consumer has bought personal care products makers in Nigeria and South Africa, while Dabur India, Marico and Emami have also bought assets.

“India’s engagement with Africa in the economic sense will be driven by the private sector,” said H.H. Viswanathan of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

“The majority of the top 10 Indian companies in Africa are private firms, not state-run like the Chinese firms.”

Development assistance aside, as the Indian private sector expands in Africa, the continent is also destined to benefit from job creation as companies seek lower production costs.

“Labour costs have become more and more expensive in China and India. Chinese and Indian companies are starting look at destinations where they can do their things cost-competitively,” said Ernst & Young’s Zemedeneh.

“That’s where Africa benefits.” (Editing by David Clarke)

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Spy vs. Spy, Israel vs. America

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Dark Side of the “Special Relationship”

By Justin Raimondo, http://intifada-palestine.com/

A silent battle has been raging right under our noses, a fierce underground struggle pitting the U.S. against one of its closest allies. For all its newsworthiness, the media has barely noticed the story — except when it surfaces, briefly, like a giant fin jutting above the waves. The aggressor in this war is the state of Israel, with the U.S., its sponsor and protector, playing defense. This is the dark side of the “special relationship” — a battle of spy vs. spy.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard — now serving a life sentence — stole secrets so vital that an attempt by the Israelis to get him pardoned was blocked by a massive protest from the intelligence and defense communities. Bill Clinton wanted to trade Pollard for Israeli concessions in the ongoing “peace process,” and he was only prevented from doing so by a threat of mass resignations by the top leadership of the intelligence community.

The reason for their intransigence: among the material Pollard had been asked by his Israeli handlers to steal was the U.S. attack plan against the Soviet Union. According to Seymour Hersh, then-CIA director Bill Casey claimed Tel Aviv handed over the information to Moscow in exchange for relaxation of travel restrictions on Soviet Jews, who were then allowed to emigrate to Israel.

The Pollard case is emblematic — but it was just the beginning of a years-long effort by U.S. counterintelligence to rid themselves of the Israeli incubus. Law enforcement was — and presumably still is — convinced Pollard was very far from alone, and that a highly placed “mole” had provided him with key information. In his quest to procure very specific information, Pollard knew precisely which documents to look for — knowledge he couldn’t access without help from someone very high in government circles.

In addition, the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted a phone conversation between an Israeli intelligence officer and his boss in Tel Aviv, during which they discussed how to get hold of a letter by then-secretary of state Warren Christopher to Yasser Arafat. The Washington spy suggested they use “Mega,” but his boss demurred: “This is not something we use Mega for,” he averred.

The search for Mega and his underlings continues to this day, as U.S. counterintelligence attempts to rip up what appears to be a vast Israeli spy operation by its very deep roots. That’s why they went after Ben Ami Kadish, who handed over U.S. secrets to Tel Aviv and shared a handler with Pollard, and why they indicted Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two top officials of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group. That’s why they were listening on the other end as Jane Harman promised an Israeli agent to intervene in the Rosen-Weissman case. And now a new front has been opened up in this subterranean war with the arrest of Stewart David Nozette, a top U.S. scientist who worked for the Pentagon, had access to the most closely guarded nuclear secrets, and was the lead scientist in the search for water on the moon.

Nozette’s case is interesting because of his impressive resume: he held top positions with the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and NASA, and he served on the White House National Space Council under George H.W. Bush. From 1989 until March 2006, he held “Q” clearance, which means he had access to “critical nuclear weapon design information” and vital information concerning 20 “special access programs” — secrets only a very few top government officials had knowledge of.

In other words, this wasn’t just some mid-level schmuck who wanted to sell out his country for cash: he was one of the big boys — the principal author of the Clementine biostatic radar experiment, which allowed U.S. scientists to discover water on the moon — a kind of J. Robert Oppenheimer figure, whose singular contributions to the U.S. space program and its military applications granted him security clearances available to a very select few.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint [.pdf] alleging espionage is terse, vague in parts, and brimming with implication. Taking their cues from the Department of Justice press release, most news reports state, “The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws,” leaving out the last three words in the DOJ’s sentence: “in this case.”

In this particular case, it’s true, prosecutors are going after Nozette for violations that occurred while they were reeling him in, with a federal agent pretending to be a Mossad officer offering him money (not very much, by the way) in exchange for secrets. The real question, however, is what caused them to zero in on Nozette? A Washington Times piece cites Kenneth Piernick, a former senior FBI agent, who opined:

He must have made some kind of attempt, which triggered the FBI’s interest in him. They cut in between him and whoever he was trying to work with and posed as an intelligence officer, agent, or courier to handle the issue, and then when he delivered what he intended to deliver to that person, his contact was likely an undercover FBI agent or [someone from] another U.S. intelligence service.

Yet Nozette may have made more than a mere “attempt.” The affidavit alleges that, from 1998 to 2008, he served as a consultant to “an aerospace company wholly owned by the government of Israel,” during which time “approximately once a month representatives of the aerospace company proposed questions, or taskings, to Nozette.” He answered these questions, and, in return, received regular payments totaling $250,000.

This indicates the Feds had been on to Nozette for quite some time, and with good cause. The affidavit also notes that, at the beginning of this year, he traveled to “a different foreign country” in possession of two computer “thumb” drives, which seemed to have mysteriously disappeared upon his return some three weeks later. What was on the drives — and who were the recipients?

In 2007, federal authorities raided the offices of Nozette’s nonprofit company, the Alliance for Competitive Technology (ACT), purportedly because ACT, having procured several lucrative government contracts, had defrauded the federal government by overcharging. The affidavit cites an anonymous colleague of Nozette who recalled the scientist said that if the U.S. government ever tried to put him in jail he would go to Israel or another foreign country and “tell them everything” he knows.

Perhaps the real reason for the raid, however, had to do with the FBI’s growing suspicion — if not certainty — he was funneling U.S. secrets to Tel Aviv. ACT is a curious creation, a “nonprofit” group that nevertheless generated over half a million dollars last year according to documents filed with the IRS, with over $150,000 in salary and benefits paid out to Nozette. But it wasn’t just about money. ACT’s mission statement reads like a spy’s dream come true:

“The Alliance for Competitive Technology has been created to serve the national and public interest by conducting scientific research and educational activities aimed at expanding the utilization of National and Government Laboratory resources. The National Laboratories possess significant technology, technologists, and resources, of great potential value to growing U.S. industrial organizations, both small and large. Recent changes in national policy (the Stevenson-Wydler Act of 1986 and the NASA Technology Utilization Program) have sanctioned the pursuit of technology transfer from these organizations. However, the capabilities and resources present in National Laboratories are often difficult to access by small and medium sized organizations with limited resources. ACT will research the best mechanisms to facilitate this transfer through focused research on technology transfer mechanisms, and educational and instructive programs on technology transfer from National Laboratories. In addition, ACT will enable U.S. organizations to utilize the resources of National Laboratories through existing established mechanisms (e.g., the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Technology Affiliates Program). Transfer of commercially valuable technology is significantly enhanced by such direct support of private sector efforts.”

In short: ACT is all about technology transfer — from the U.S. to Israel. This, as is well-known, is one of the favored activities of the Israeli intelligence services, which regularly pilfer the latest American technology (especially military applications) to such an extent that a General Accounting Office investigation once characterized the effort as “the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any U.S. ally.”

ACT had contracts with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va., and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It is hardly a leap of faith to conclude that vital data flowing from these projects was fed directly into the waiting maw of the Mossad.

Nozette was a key figure in developing and promoting the “Star Wars” ballistic missile defense system. His colleague in the “High Frontier” movement — and the official director of ACT — is one Klaus Heiss, like Nozette an enthusiast [.pdf] of space colonization (who also has some strong views on other subjects).

Contacted by an FBI agent masquerading as an Israeli intelligence agent, Nozette didn’t blink when told his lunch companion was from the Mossad: “Good,” he said. “Happy to be of assistance.” This was well before the issue of money was raised. Later in the conversation, Nozette boasted of his top-level security clearances and the range and depth of his knowledge of U.S. secrets, adding, “I don’t get recruited by the Mossad every day. By the way, I knew this day would come.” Questioned further by the undercover agent, Nozette said, “I thought I was working for you already. I mean, that’s what I always thought [the foreign company] was — just a front.”

Which it no doubt was.

Nozette agreed to be a regular “asset,” yet he clearly felt his position was increasingly precarious. He inquired about the right of return and raised the possibility that he might go to Israel. He wanted a passport as part of his payment, in addition to the few thousand dollars the FBI was putting in a post office “dead drop” for him on receipt of stolen secrets.

Well, then, so what? Don’t all nations, even allies, spy on each other? What’s the significance of this particular case?

On the surface, our relationship with Israel is encompassed by the terms of the “special relationship, “which has so far consisted of the U.S. giving unconditional support to Tel Aviv’s every action, no matter how brutal [.pdf] or contrary to our interests — and tolerating, to a large degree, its extensive covert operations on U.S. soil (or, at least, keeping quiet about them). On a deeper level, however, the tensions in this one-way love affair have frayed the specialness of the relationship almost to the breaking point.

This is not just due to the election of Barack Obama, who is widely perceived in Israel as being biased against the Jewish state. These tensions arose during Bush’s second term, when U.S. policy began to perceptibly tilt away from Tel Aviv. A particularly telling blow to U.S.-Israeli relations was the decision by the U.S. to clamp down on visa requirements for Israelis entering the U.S.: potential visitors from Israel are now required to undergo an interview, restrictions on their length of stay have been extended, and admission to the U.S. is no longer assured.

In the secret world of spooks spying on one another, the U.S.-Israeli relationship is increasingly adversarial, while in the diplomatic-political realm, it has nearly reached the point of open hostilities. This is thanks to the objective conditions that determine relations among nations: in the post-Cold War world, Israel necessarily became much less of an asset to the U.S. In the post-9/11 world, as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have so trenchantly pointed out, it is an outright liability.

Our self-sacrificial policy of unconditional support for Israel has earned us implacable enemies in the Arab world and granted our adversaries a priceless propaganda prize — and the growing awareness of this disability is something the Israelis no doubt find disturbing. The distortion of our foreign policy by the power of the Israel lobby is also being widely noted, and this is their real Achilles heel.

In this case, too, the Lobby will no doubt rush to exert their influence to downgrade Nozette’s crime and even depict him as an innocent victim of entrapment. Defenders of the AIPAC duo conjured a vast “anti-Semitic” conspiracy within the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI to explain the alleged persecution of Rosen and Weissman, and the same tactics are bound to be trotted out in this instance.

That is nonsense. The FBI didn’t just pick Nozette arbitrarily and conjure his crimes out of thin air. Their target was already deeply involved with the Israelis, and this is what brought him to their attention in the first place.

The nature and extent of Israeli spying in the U.S. is not a subject you’ll see the “mainstream” media very often touch with so much as a 10-foot pole, but when it does the results can be ominously disturbing. I, for one, haven’t forgotten Carl Cameron’s four-part series on Israeli spying in the U.S., broadcast by Fox News in December 2001. According to Cameron, his sources in law enforcement told him the Israelis had been following the 9/11 hijackers and had foreknowledge of their plans but somehow neglected to tell us. And then there were those dancing Israelis, leaping for joy at the sight of the Twin Towers burning!

This is the dark side of the “special relationship,” so dark that hardly anyone wants to acknowledge it, let alone consider its implications.

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Muslims in Time of Kublai Khan

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Wang Daiyu

VG_19_Kublai-Khan
“The Kublai Khan Hunting Trip,” by Vadim Gorbatov

While it is widely known that the Chinese were instrumental in inventing explosives and in advancing early rocket technology, it is less known that during the time of Kublai Khan Turkish Muslims were instrumental in helping the Mongols conquer China and advancing this technology and building siege weapons. According to Muslim Heritage, between 1271 and 1273 Kublai Khan employed two Turkish Muslim engineers Alaadin and Ismail (I-ssu-ma-yin in Chinese sources). They were instrumental in building ballistic weapons used in the siege and conquest of Hang-Chow and Hsiang-yang. The Chinese sources mention that when the weapons built by Ismail were fired “the earth and the skies shook and the cannons were buried seven feet into the ground.” The sons of both these engineers also worked for the Mongols.

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Obama Moves to Boost U.S. Broadband Access

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By John Poirier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration released details on Thursday of a $2 billion program in grants and loans to help dramatically expand Americans’ broadband Internet access and create tens of thousands of jobs.

The funds, to be released over the next 75 days, are among $7.2 billion set aside in President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic recovery package to bring broadband access to unserved or underserved U.S. communities.

Vice President Joe Biden, at an event in Dawsonville, Georgia, announced details of an initial $183 million investment in broadband projects in 17 states.

“New broadband access means more capacity and better reliability in rural areas and underserved urban communities around the country,” Biden said in a statement.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans have adopted broadband at home, while one-third have access but have not adopted it, and 4 percent say they have no access where they live, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Biden’s chief economist, Jared Bernstein, told reporters in a briefing the administration was unable to provide more precise figures on exactly how many jobs would be created, but White House officials said “tens of thousands of jobs” could be created in the near term.

The FCC held an open meeting on Wednesday to provide an update on its national broadband plan due to be submitted to Congress in February. FCC staff stopped short of making formal recommendations because they are still gathering data on which to base their final report.

‘PLATFORM FOR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY’

Officials said on Thursday that broadband expansion projects aimed to link communities to the “Internet backbone,” a network of large, high-bandwidth fiber-optic cables that span the country.

They said the grants and loans, being released by the departments of Commerce and Agriculture, would help expand broadband for education, healthcare and providing workers the flexibility to work from home.

“The community is part of the solution to the national broadband strategy,” said Craig Settles, president of broadband strategy consulting firm Successful.com.

With the rest of the U.S. economy stuck in the doldrums and shedding jobs, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said the technology sector has been going in the other direction.

“Because of its power to propel innovation, broadband can be our platform for economic prosperity,” Genachowski said in a December 1 speech on technology innovation.

Officials announced four different types of awards:

- $121.6 million to build and improve connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access.
- $51.4 million to connect end users like homes, hospitals and schools to their community’s broadband infrastructure (the middle mile).
- $7.3 million to expand computer center capacity for public use in libraries, community colleges and other public venues.
- $2.4 million to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand with population groups where the technology has traditionally been underutilized.

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No-Fault Espionage

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Philip Giraldi

It is interesting to note what happens to espionage cases in the United States. If you spy for China, or Cuba, or Iran you will be exposed, excoriated in the media, locked up and denied bail, convicted, and sentenced to many years in a federal prison. Spying is serious business and the harsh punishment most often fits the crime because when spies steal highly sensitive defense and policy information they are not only betraying their fellow citizens, they are also making all Americans less secure. And the spying is only slightly less serious when American technology is being targeted. When spies acting for a foreign country steal sensitive technology with commercial applications that is developed at great cost either by the US government or private companies, their betrayal is also taking away the livelihoods of thousands of American workers who rely on the competitive edge of US technology to keep their jobs.

Spies are traitors in every sense of the word, unless, of course, if one is spying for Israel. Israel aggressively spies on the US both to influence policy and steal high technology, but getting caught only very rarely has any consequences. Leading neoconservatives like Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and Stephen Bryen have all been detected in flagrante providing classified information to Israel but the investigations were halted and their security clearances were godfathered so they could continue to hold high office. FBI counter intelligence officer John Cole has reported on the frustration of his colleagues over the many cases of Israeli espionage that are dropped under orders from the Justice Department. He provides a “conservative estimate” of 125 worthwhile investigations into Israeli espionage in the US involving both American citizens and Israelis stopped due to political pressure from above. Israeli citizens and diplomats who are caught in the act spying are routinely freed without criminal charges and allowed to return home.

If you are an American who spies for Israel, a separate and unequal criminal justice system kicks in and the media quickly excuses your actions and then makes the story go away just as fast as it can. Most readers of Antiwar.com are familiar with the recent case of AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. The two men were given information that they knew to be classified by Pentagon employee Larry Franklin, who perhaps not coincidentally worked for Doug Feith. They passed the information on to an intelligence officer at the Israeli Embassy with whom they were also in contact. The FBI set up a sting using Franklin and arrested all three of the men under the Espionage Act of 1917. The arrest was followed by a nearly three year long trial in which the AIPAC duo finally escaped any punishment after presiding Judge Thomas Ellis obligingly set conditions that made it impossible for the prosecution to proceed. Franklin, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 151 months in prison, was subsequently freed of his obligation to do any jail time by the same Judge Ellis. While the trial was going on, it was conspicuously underreported by the media.

Predictably, many in the media and in the neocon establishment criticized the arrests of Rosen and Weissman, commenting that exchanges of classified “information” were routine in Washington and that Israel is a good friend requiring the classified intelligence for its own security. The argument might not have convinced the American public, but it certainly convinced the barking dogs in the media and Judge Ellis, particularly as there might have been a little nudging from important politicians taking place. Congresswoman Jane Harman, who was caught on the phone trading favors with an agent working for Israeli intelligence promised to use her influence in the Rosen-Weissman case in return for Israel helping her obtain the position of chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a devil’s bargain if there ever was one.

The case of Ben-Ami Kadish is in some ways even more intriguing than that of the two AIPAC staffers. Kadish was arrested in New Jersey in December 2008 for “conspiracy to disclose to the government of Israel documents related to the national defense of the United States and… that he participated in a conspiracy to act as an agent of the government of Israel.” Kadish gave the same Israeli intelligence officer who ran convicted spy Jonathan Pollard classified documents that he had obtained while working at the US Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, New Jersey. Some of the documents were related to nuclear weapons development while others described highly classified aspects of the Patriot anti-missile defense system. Israel subsequently developed its own Arrow anti-missile system, possibly using classified information relating to the Patriot, thereby reducing its own costs and enabling it to market the Arrow internationally at a lower price than its US competitors, eliminating American jobs.

Ben-Ami Kadish was arrested in December but released on bail. He was supposed to reappear before Judge Douglas Eaton at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan two months later in February, but did not actually reappear until June. He was fined and given a suspended sentence, a slap on the wrist considerably less painful than a local businessman cheating on his income tax might have received in the same courtroom.

And there is a current spy case involving Israel which clearly is being swept under the rug. Stewart Nozette, a scientist working for the US government, was arrested on October 19th and charged with conspiring to commit espionage. Nozette was caught in an FBI sting operation in which the Bureau officer pretended to be an Israeli Mossad spy. Nozette enthusiastically embraced the offer to cooperate, demanding in return an Israeli passport and money for the information that he would provide. The US media quickly went into damage mode, the New York Times headlining its coverage “The Scientist Who Mistook Himself for a Spy.” Many in the media quickly noted that the FBI agent was not actually Mossad, meaning that Israel was not directly involved. The convenient spin ignored the fact the Nozette told the agent that he had already “communicated classified information” to Israel for many years through contacts in the Israel Aerospace Industries, for which he received $225,000. Nozette stated that he believed he had already been spying for Israel, telling the pretend Mossad but really FBI officer “I thought I was working for you already.”

So what has happened to Nozette, who, according to the court papers, “had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defense”? Well, as in the case of Ben-Ami Kadish, he seems to have disappeared. The media has dropped the story and Nozette did not appear again in court on November 10th as scheduled. He may have been consigned to that limbo where those who spy for Israel seem to wind up prior to being released. The Federal District Court for the District of Columbia’s website is giving nothing away. Nozette’s name does not appear anywhere and if one calls the court clerk and requests information on his status, the call will not be returned.

The point is that if Congress and the Justice Department think that when Americans are caught spying for Israel it is constitutionally protected activity, like free speech, perhaps they should say so publicly. A two-tier system relating to national security issues and rule of law is just not in the US national interest, no matter how one twists the facts. If you spy for Israel the consequences should be the same as if you spy for China or Cuba – arrest, conviction, and hard jail time. No exceptions, no excuses.

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Islamic Iphone Apps

December 27, 2009 by · 13 Comments 

By Jeremy Blaney, Michigan State University, UPIU.com

osx_prayertimes iquran ArabtallerPro2_2
Prayer times Iphone Qur`an Arabic language support

EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 11 (UPI) — If you want to read a verse from Qur`an, there’s an app for that. If you want to be reminded of the five daily prayers, there’s an app for that. And if you need to know what direction to face when it’s time to pray, there’s an app for that.

There’s a computer application for just about anything and some Muslims are taking full advantage of such technological innovations to practice their faith.

“I’ve downloaded a few of the Islamic applications for my iPod touch,” said Nada Zohdy, a senior at Michigan State University.

One application consolidates Islamic prayers into a central location that can, once downloaded, be accessed with or without wireless connectivity. It includes, for example, prayers that are said before entering or after leaving a mosque.

“These prayers aren’t mandatory,” said Zohdy, who refers to her iPod to recite prayers in her car before and after Friday prayers. “They’re like extra things that you can do. Because of the iPod touch, I was able to do things I wouldn’t typically do.”

Apple says developers have created more than 100,000 apps covering 20 categories for iPhone and iPod touch users in 77 countries. The query “Islam” or “Muslim” returns dozens of applications that vary in cost and purpose.

“I have the Qur`an application,” said Khasim Jafri, president of the Muslim Students Association at Michigan State University. “I use it more for reference, like if I’m trying to look up a certain verse or just want to read a short chapter.

“If you have downtime, maybe you should be doing something worthwhile. Now, something worthwhile is available at your fingertips.”

Other technologies are also helping Muslims follow the rituals of their religion. Mounzer Kassab, an associate professor in the department of neurology at Michigan State University, travels with a customizable clock that sounds when it is time to perform each of the five daily prayers that are obligatory in Islam.

“You put in the city code,” he said, “and it will automatically do the call to prayer, five times a day. It has solved a lot of problems while traveling.”

Followers of other religions have also discovered conveniences offered by technology. In May, the Roman Catholic Church launched Pope2You.net, a portal that provides access to several applications, including ones for Facebook and the iPhone and iPod touch.

“It’s a good communication tool, education tool, and evangelization tool,” said the Rev. Mark Inglot, a pastor in East Lansing, Mich. “The Internet has connected people in a way that they’ve never been connected before, and we’re embracing that technology.”

Inglot admitted, however, that the technological shift required some adjustments in attitudes. Inglot has a Catholic prayer application on his BlackBerry to help guide his recitation of the Divine Office, daily prayers that are obligatory for priests.

“My first thought was, ‘Does this take away from the sanctity?’” Inglot said. “Instead of holding this prayer, you’re holding your BlackBerry, but we just have to get used to it. And as we use technology for this purpose, we’re sanctifying that medium. It is another way that God can work in our lives.”

Zohdy shared Inglot’s initial unease about the medium delivering the religious message.

“When I read the Qur`an online,” she said, “it feels a little less genuine. It still is different from the experience of holding the Qur`an.”

Another potential problem with mixing technology and religion, Zohdy said, involves distractions.

“Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that when I’m on the computer, I’m doing several things at once,” she said. “If I’m reading the Qur`an online, I might not stay as easily focused as if I were holding the Qur`an in my hands.”

Some Muslims, however, see technological advancement as a threat to rituals. Kassab cited the holy month of Ramadan for one example. Muslims traditionally look for the new moon to verify that Ramadan has ended. But if clouds cover the moon, tradition dictates that Ramadan is not over and fasting must continue for an extra day.

“A lot of authorities are calling for astrological calculations, which are extremely accurate,” Kassab said. “But some don’t see a need for change. Some say they are going to follow tradition. You’re always going to find someone who is resistant to technology.”

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Community News (V11-I31)

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kent Displays Names Dr. Asad Khan Chief Technical Officer

KENT, OH– Kent Displays announced this week  the naming of Dr. Asad Khan as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Dr. Khan replaces Dr. J. William Doane, a pioneer in reflective LCD technology and Director Emeritus of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. Dr. Doane has moved to the role of Senior Advisor and will remain on Kent Displays’ Executive Committee.

Dr. Khan joined Kent Displays in 1995 as a Research Engineer. He has since held roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as the Vice President of Technology and as a member of the Executive Committee. He has published over 60 papers in U.S. and international journals and possesses over 15 U.S. and international patents (with several applications pending).

In his new role, Dr. Khan has primary responsibility for further development of Reflex(TM) No Power LCD technology, the foundation for which was built by Dr. Doane as cofounder of Kent Displays. Focus activities include authoring the development framework for Reflex technology to meet the overall company strategic plan, directing a growing internal team of scientists in the implementation of the framework, and playing the lead role in managing various strategic relationships with suppliers and joint development partners.

Kent Displays’ CEO Dr. Albert Green stated, “We have been exceptionally fortunate to have the services of two internationally-recognized LCD industry leaders in the CTO role, Dr. Doane and now Dr. Khan. As one of Kent Displays’ longest-tenured employees, Dr. Khan offers keen insight into the company’s history and vast experience in the display industry. This knowledge, combined with an extensive technical background, makes him the ideal individual to lead the development of Reflex technology for new and unique applications such as smart cards, electronic skins and writing tablets. We have great confidence in his ability to provide the necessary direction to take Reflex technology into these new frontiers and many others.”

Mosque opposed in Town of Niagara

TOWN OF NIAGARA, NY–The Islamic Cultural Center of Niagar Falls has sought permission from the town to construct a new mosque. The group wants to convert the old Credit Union building in order to meet the needs of the area’s growing Muslim population.

Earlier requests were already denied by the Planning Board. They have now been placed before the Town’s Board.

Town of Niagara allows places of worship only in residential zones and only with a special use permit. The property also would need a zoning variance because it does not have the proper amount of road frontage required.

A public hearing would need to be held prior to the property’s rezoning. However, town officials delayed scheduling one until the other concerns are addressed and worked out.

Walmart rehires Muslim employee

ST.PAUL, MN–A Muslim employee at Walmart fired for praying in the workplace premises has now been re-hired.

Abdi Abdi was fired in February from the Wal-Mart in Woodbury where he worked as a stocker and loader. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says a new supervisor fired him after instituting a ban on prayers during work breaks, even though a previous supervisor allowed him to do so.

The St. Paul-based Islamic rights group says Abdi was rehired at a St. Paul store that’s closer to his home. The group says he will be allowed to pray during breaks.

A spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer tells the Star Tribune that the company is “glad everyone came together to resolve the issue on a positive note.”

Madison mosque public hearing postponed to August 3

MADISON, MS– A public hearing on the construction of a mosque has been rescheduled for August 3rd in Madison, Mississipi. Roger Williams, an attorney representing the Mississippi Muslim Association in Jackson, asked the Madison County board of supervisors for a continuance of the hearing on June 7, saying the group needs more time to lay out plans for a sewer system for the property on U.S. 51.

“We thought we had reached an understanding with the city of Madison to provide sewer service to the property, because we thought it was located in the city’s certificated area,” he said.

“But last Thursday, we learned that the property was not in the city’s certificated area.” As defined by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, a certificated area is an area where the certificate holder cannot legally deny water and sewer service.

Now Williams said the group plans to install a private sewer system akin to a septic tank. “We felt it would be inappropriate to go to the board without all the information.”

Muslim charter school sues Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN–The Tarek Bin Ziyad Academy has sued the state of Minnesota for unfairly fining it $1.4 million. In its recent complaint in Ramsey County Court, the Academy claims the Minnesota Department of Education fined it for violating teacher licensure law, but refused to provide enough documentation for the school to appeal. It claims the state made “a purposeful and calculated resistance” in withholding the files.

The academy was sued earlier this year by the ACLU which claimed which claimed the school was sponsored by Islamic Relief USA and was unconstitutionally receiving taxpayers’ money.

The ACLU claimed TIZA permitted and promoted Islamic prayer and rituals in school, in violation of Minnesota Charter School Law.

In June, TIZA appealed the Minnesota Department of Education’s “final determination letter regarding certain allegations of teacher licensure law violations,” which led to the $1.4 million fine.

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A Saudi Arabian University with a Western Feel

July 17, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

kaust classroom artist

Artist’s rendering of a classroom at KAUST.  King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will feature coed classes, a curriculum in English and other touches seen as dangerous liberalism by Islamic fundamentalists.

THUWAL, SAUDI ARABIA — Up the corniche, along a coast where boats carrying pilgrims bound for Mecca sailed for centuries, a thicket of cranes rises over whitewashed mosques along the Red Sea.

Steel flashes and blowtorches glow as 20,000 workers build a $10-billion university ordered up by a king who hopes Western ingenuity will revive the economy of this ultraconservative Muslim nation. When finished next year, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will offer coed classes, Western professors, a curriculum in English and other touches loathed as dangerous liberalism by Islamic fundamentalists.

The West may be dependent on Saudi crude, now as high as $145 a barrel, but this campus outside an ancient fishing village is recognition that the country that is home to Islam’s holiest shrines needs the likes of USC, Oxford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to survive globalization.

An architect’s rendering shows a campus of canals and reflecting pools running along sleek silver and glass libraries and laboratories. A marina with slips for 140 boats stands in a cove lighted by a tapered beacon. Students and professors will live in villas and apartments looking out on date palms and furnished with eggshell and white Swedish-style sofas and chairs.

Saudis have studied in the U.S. and Europe for decades, bringing back expertise without directly exposing the kingdom to Western classrooms and professors. But the new university is inviting the secular West a step closer in another ideological battle between Saudi reformers led by King Abdullah and the Wahhabi sect of puritanical Islam that has resisted outside influences since the days of desert caravans.

“Saudis are beginning to realize they are not the center of the universe,” said Tariq Maeena, a writer and aviation expert. “The king hopes that a young Saudi will be in a class with an American professor. The king is jabbing the conservatives from all sides. He’s not doing it with a massive decree, but incrementally, and all the radicals can do is roll their eyes and say, ‘Uh-oh, we’re losing more power.’

“Amira Kashgary, a literature professor at a women’s college, said, “We are part of the global world now. Whether we like it or not, and regardless of our political and religious systems, there are changes seeping through our lives.

“The radicals ran a wicked Internet campaign against the university. They said it is another sign liberals are invading us.”

The kingdom’s huge oil reserves cannot mask Saudi Arabia’s problems: 40% of its population is younger than 18, its schools are backward and its economy is not diverse enough to compete in a high-tech future balanced between the West and the rising powers of China and India.

King Abdullah is building the university, along with six multibillion- dollar Economic Cities, to provide jobs and open the country to global markets. Conservatives fear that these international voices, from South Asian construction workers to Western scientists, will change the religious fabric.

“Men and women learning together should remain forbidden,” said Mohammed Ben Yehia Nogeemy, a member of the Saudi Juristic Academy, a religious organization that issues fatwas. He said that such an atmosphere could be regarded as sedition and “if any Saudi official has the intention to allow the establishment of a coeducational university, that will be a big mistake that will need to be corrected.”

But the king, for now, is a step ahead of the conservatives. Nogeemy was not in attendance on a recent afternoon when oil money seduced brainpower at a hotel along the Red Sea in Jidda.

Silver trays of hors d’oeuvres and alcohol-free champagne glided through a crowd of Western academics gathered for a conference on the university’s goals. Soldiers with Humvees and .50-caliber machine guns stood guard outside to scare away would-be terrorists, while inside mathematicians and molecular biologists tried on blue university ball caps and pocketed Lamborghini pens left on seats as gifts.

The university, known as KAUST, is promising academic freedom, the mixing of cultures and religions, and subjects as varied as nanotechnology and crop development. The country’s ubiquitous and often abusive morality police will not patrol the campus, depicted on the university’s interactive website with unveiled women. Going unveiled is a crime in Saudi society that could lead to lashings and imprisonment.

kaust artist's rendering KAUST will be “a new house of wisdom,” Ali Ibrahim Naimi, the Saudi minister of petroleum and mineral resources, told the guests. He said world research projects and the Saudi economy, with a 12% unemployment rate, would benefit from the “easy flow of ideas and people into and out of the region.”

To ensure that, KAUST is not under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry, which is controlled by fundamentalists and often forbids the teaching of music, art and philosophy.

The project is overseen by Aramco, the Saudi oil company founded by US firms in the 1930s. Aramco has experience in creating a parallel world: In its gated communities in the eastern part of the country, alcohol is available but hidden, there’s a pee-wee baseball winter carnival, and Western women drive cars, a practice forbidden to Saudi women.

With a chocolate-scented cigar in one hand and a honey-flavored coffee in the other, Maeena sat in his favorite Jidda cafe, nodding hellos to young men with laptops and waiters who know his preferences. This is the world he likes, a place to write, a den of intellectual freedom in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city.
He said KAUST, which is being built 50 miles north of the cafe, is another sign that the country’s religious and ideological barriers are weakening.

“It’s an act of opening us up to a better side of education,” said Maeena, who, like many of his generation, attended college in the U.S. “The West has planted those seeds of liberalism in me and thousands like me. We were young Saudis educated in the West in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, but this slowed as the seeds of fundamentalism took hold here in the 1990s.”

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