Good Day Conflucians!!
Time for some late morning, early afternoon news. Obviously the big news story is still the tragedy in AZ. Here are a few links of interest. Here is a brief on the victims of the shooting from MSNBC. They mostly talk about the judge, but mention the others. And the authorities are looking for a “person of interest” that may be connected to the shooting:
The Pima County sheriff’s office released a photo of a man they described as a person of interest who was wanted in connection with Saturday’s shooting, which left 13 wounded, including Democratic Rep. Giffords, 40. The unknown person was photographed by a surveillance camera near the shooting suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, 22.
The person appears to be white with dark hair and about 40 years old.
“We want to know if the person of interest is associated with” the suspect, Pima County Deputy Jason Ogan said in a telephone interview. “We released the photo to see if anyone knows him.”
We’ll see how this story continues to unfold. It seems clear that the motives behind the crime are based on mental illness and not on politics per se. It’s sad to see lots of politically motivated venom as a result. Since the venom is usually in the form of pointing fingers for inciting to violence, it’s obviously ironic.
Let’s see what else is in the news. Democrats are mounting a new sales pitch to save the health insurance reform bill:
Democrats, who were widely perceived to have blown the political messaging over President Obama’s signature law, are revving up for a campaign-style offensive in an attempt to get it right the second time around.
Party officials said they will also showcase regular folks who have benefited from the health-care law – such as those younger than 26 who are now able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans and people with preexisting conditions who can now get coverage – in local and national media to “put a face” on popular provisions.
“It’s not often you get a second chance to make a first impression, but [Republicans] are giving that right to us,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “Right now, people don’t realize all the good things in the bill. The more we have an opportunity to talk about them, fewer and fewer people are going to be for repeal.”
Always nice to have a do-over. Wish we could have a do-over of the Dem primary too.
Banks are launching a new season of higher and higher fees. You know, because they’re hurting so badly. Here’s an article about BofA’s approach:
Bank of America will begin offering greater rewards to its most affluent and active banking customers but reduce services for its most basic users, executives said Wednesday, as the financial industry seeks to make up for lower revenues amid heightened federal regulations.
Under the new program, consumers who carry low account balances would be subject to a $9 monthly maintenance fee. Meanwhile, those with at least $50,000 in deposits and investments would receive priority customer service and higher interest rates on their savings. The new accounts will be tested in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts this month and are slated to be rolled out nationwide late this year or early next.
“We’re in a new economic reality. We’ve seen our customers’ behaviors change, their financial needs change,” said Susan Faulkner, Bank of America’s deposits and card product executive.
Aren’t they special.
In WikiLeaks news, the US wants to get hold of twitter data originating from WikiLeaks and Iceland wants to have a talk with the US ambassador over that:
The American ambassador to Reykjavik has been summoned to explain why U.S. investigators are trying to access the private details of an Icelandic lawmaker’s online activity as they try to build a criminal case against WikiLeaks.
Revelations that the U.S. Justice Department obtained a court order to examine data held by Twitter Inc. on Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic parliamentarian who sits on the country’s Foreign Affairs Committee, immediately caused consternation in the tiny North Atlantic nation.
“(It is) very serious that a foreign state, the United States, demands such personal information of an Icelandic person, an elected official,” Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson told Icelandic broadcaster RUV.
“This is even more serious when put (in) perspective and concerns freedom of speech and people’s freedom in general,” he added.
Here’s more from the BBC on the US wanting WikiLeaks twitter data.
In geopolitical news, the US and China are renewing military to military relations again:
Stealth fighter jets in development. Guided missiles dubbed “carrier killers.” As America’s top defense official visits China next week, its growing military capabilities are redrawing the security landscape in Asia, putting the country with the largest standing army on a potential collision course with the United States.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who arrives late Sunday for a five-day visit, will formally restore military-to-military exchanges, cut off a year ago by Beijing over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. His visit marks the first to China by a serving defense secretary since William Cohen’s in 2000.
Let’s hope that goes well. It’s a tricky world, and we don’t need any more crap to happen. Here’s the important quote:
“We are settling into what all observers agree is a Sino-American security rivalry. The key is to manage and stabilize it so it does not become a conflict,” said Dan Blumenthal, a former China country director at the Pentagon and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
Now on the lighter side of things, last week was the Consumer Electronics Show. All the geeky gadgets you could ever want. The consensus seems to be, if you hadn’t already guessed, the mobile world has taken over. This from PCMag:
Ask someone what CES 2011 was all about and I can almost guarantee you they’d say “tablets.” Pop stars designing camera equipment aside, the biggest stories of the show were the official unveiling of tablets powered by Android 3.0 “Honeycomb,” the arrival of dual-core cellphones like the Motorola Atrix and LG Optimus 2X, and Microsoft’s announcement of building Windows on ARM chips, which are found in portable devices. Mobile companies were white-hot at CES 2011.
At the same time, the traditional giants of the show faltered. With 3D underwhelming audiences everywhere, the Sonys, Panasonics, and Toshibas of the world were left without a narrative. Sure, 3D was still all over CES 2011, but good 3D? Breakthrough 3D? 3D you’d actually want? Not so much. Sony’s glasses-free 3D TV demonstration was the only impressive 3D technology I saw, but it’s not even a real product yet, and in any case there’s still a dearth of good 3D content that’s preventing a lot of people from lining up to buy one of these sets.
And similar from WaPo:
You could once be safe in calling the Consumer Electronics Show “the TV show.” Now it might be more accurate to call it “the wireless show.”
Instead of manufacturers competing to see who could build the biggest or the flattest set, the race here is more likely to involve connectivity. And the most popular way to connect to the Internet and all the photos, music and videos available there is without wires – either over a home wireless network or on the go, via a mobile-broadband service.
The smartphones and tablets that have been drawing crowds and conversations here represent the most obvious sign of the shift. Both take advantage of steady advances in screen, processor and storage technologies, but they would be far less useful without faster mobile-broadband access and wider coverage.
Sorry TV people, 3D TV is a stupid gimmick that’s going nowhere. It’s a mobile and app world now. But don’t write off the TV world yet. I think there is a revolution going on with TV over the internet. But it’s still early days and it’s hard to tell where that will end up. Certainly GoogleTV and AppleTV and various other set top box platforms are getting interesting, but I don’t think they’re at the cutting the cable level yet. Still, if I were Comcast, I’d be getting nervous.
And finally in a bit of science news, here’s a fun article on programming microbes to do really cool things:
Genetically modified microbes could perform many useful jobs, from making biofuels and drugs, to cleaning up toxic waste. But designing the complex biochemical pathways inside such microbes is a time-consuming process of trial and error.
Christopher Voigt, an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, hopes to change that with software that automates the creation of “genetic circuits” in microbes. These circuits are the pathways of genes, proteins, and other biomolecules that the cells use to perform a particular task, such as breaking down sugar and turning it into fuel. Voigt and colleagues have so far made basic circuit components in E. coli. They are working with the large California biotechnology company Life Technologies to develop software that would let bioengineers design complete genetic circuits more easily.
Designing a microbe for a particular task would then be much like writing a new computer program, says Voigt. Just as programmers do not have to think about how electrons move through the gates in an integrated circuit, he says, biological engineers may eventually be able to design circuits for genes, proteins, and other biomolecules at a level of abstraction. “If we apply computational processes to things that bacteria can already do, we can get complete control over making spider silk, or drugs, or other chemicals,” he says.
I for one welcome our new programmed microbe overlords.
That’s a bit of news on this lovely Sunday morning. At least here. Chime in with what you’re finding.