Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mexico Has U.S. Guns, Vietnam Has Casinos (Link Round-Up 11/10/12)

[via Salon]

RT interview with Bashar al-Assad



Turkey and Iran catching up to Israel in scientific development
While Israel still leads in the number of patents it registers in the US, the last two indexes that were checked reveal that the gaps between Israel and Iran and Turkey are narrowing. The Technion researchers warn that if this trend continues, Iran and Turkey are expected to close the gap within a few years.

The researchers note that the rapid progress in the Middle Eastern countries is the result of high investments, new initiatives to construct research centers, collaboration with high-quality universities of developed countries and more. Thus, for example, Saudi Arabia recently inaugurated a science and technology university with an investment of $20 billion. In Qatar, an “education city” was built on an expanse of 14 square kilometers — the size of [Israeli city of] Kfar Saba — boasting six branches of leading universities from all over the world. Not far from there, an $8 billion research center will be inaugurated this year. In Abu Dhabi, renewable energy [and sustainability] research is being studied with the cooperation of leading American universities.

But the highest scientific research activity rate is to be found in Iran. According to the Thomson Reuters report, the scope of Iran’s research activity is growing at a yearly rate that is 11 times greater than the rest of the world’s countries. According to the report, impressive progress exists in 14 Middle Eastern countries (except for Israel that was not tested). These countries include: Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In 2000-2009 research output grew in these countries, and the number of articles they publish now constitute four percent of the world output, compared to two percent of the output a decade ago. This represents a larger scientific research growth rate than anywhere else in the world.
Mexican cartels allegedly got guns from U.S. Border Patrol
According to Mexican magazine Revista Contralinea, the testimony comes from a protected government witness and former hitman, who cooperated in the prosecution of a Sinaloa Cartel accountant by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office. The testimony details a series of battles fought by a group of cartel members attempting to drive out rival gangsters from territory in Mexico’s desert west. To do it, the group sought weapons from the U.S., including at least 30 WASR-10 rifles — a variant of the AK-47 — allegedly acquired from Border Patrol agents.

If true, it could reignite the debate over Operation Fast and Furious, the last time U.S. authorities allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican gangsters. Two days after the election, Attorney General Eric Holder — who had been at the center of allegations surrounding the scandal — is now talking like he might not stay with the administration for much longer. “That’s something I’m in the process now of trying to determine,” Holder said Thursday. “I have to think about, can I contribute in a second term?”
Southeast Asia's competitive casino industry
Indeed, Vietnam’s casino industry has been a bright spot in the local economy. It has thriving casino cities which contribute much-needed dollar revenues to the local coffers and steady employment to local residents. It’s only other rival in the Indochina Peninsula is Cambodia which has at least 25 casino gaming complexes, although the frequent opening and closings of casinos in the country makes the number difficult to pinpoint.

Vietnamese and Cambodian casinos are popular because they are officially banned in Thailand and China which share land borders with both Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s no accident that casino centers in Vietnam and Cambodia are established in territories that are accessible to gamers in Thailand and China. Why fly to Macau or Las Vegas if casinos are already within reach near the border?

Cambodia’s main market is the Chinese who come ready to spend a sinful amount of money in casino centers. Even the Chinese government is encouraging its citizens to play in Cambodia’s casinos, many of which are owned or operated by Chinese nationals. Last year, Cambodia earned more than $20 million from casino taxes.
"Giant" Roman skeleton discovered
"We know nothing about the role or presence of giants in the Roman world," she said—other than the fact that the second century A.D. emperor Maximinus Thrax was described in literature as a "human mountain."

Minozzi noted, though, that imperial Roman high society "developed a pronounced taste for entertainers with evident physical malformations, such as hunchbacks and dwarfs—so we can assume that even a giant generated enough interest and curiosity."

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