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Posts Tagged ‘Tucson’

Google Outs 3D Maps For iOS Ahead of Apple

July 26th, 2012 07:53 admin View Comments

Google

hypnosec writes “Apple announced during WWDC 2012 that it is going to ditch Google maps and bring out its own under iOS 6. So, Google started working and in fact raced ahead of Apple in providing 3D maps for iOS. Through a blog post, Google announced that it has now made 3D imagery available on its Google Earth for iOS app. Users of iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or new iPad, while using Google Earth for iOS app, will feel that they are virtually flying over cities.The feature, as of now, works only for 12 regions. Cities for which the 3D imagery is provided are from US with an expectation of a city in Rome. The U.S. cities include: Boulder, Colo., Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Lawrence, Kan., Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Diego, Santa Cruz, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Tucson, Ariz., and San Francisco, plus its East Bay and Peninsula neighbors notes the blog post.”

Source: Google Outs 3D Maps For iOS Ahead of Apple

Early iPhone 4S Reviews

October 11th, 2011 10:47 admin View Comments

iPhone 4S

With just over two days to go for the official launch day, Apple has lifted the embargo on iPhone 4S reviews and we’ve started seeing some of the well known tech writers and critics publishing reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 4S.

Here are some of the highlights from each review:

Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD:

  • While Apple’s latest iPhone doesn’t look different, and may not be the kind of blockbuster people expect from the late Steve Jobs’s company, it thinks different, to quote one of Apple’s old ad slogans.
  • The standout feature, not available in other iPhones, or in any other phone I’ve seen, is Siri.
  • The iPhone 4S now comes with the same, dual-core processor found in the iPad 2. I didn’t notice a dramatic speed gain, but the phone operated rapidly and surely, with smooth scrolling and swiping.
  • Other phones boast 8-megapixel cameras, but the 4S takes the best pictures and high-definition videos I have seen on a phone.
  • My AT&T model dropped too many calls, just as earlier AT&T iPhones do. My colleague’s Verizon iPhone 4S dropped none.
  • While I didn’t run a formal battery test, the phone lasted all day, every day, even when I was doing heavy testing and, thus, using it more than I typically would.
  • The iPhone 4S is one of Apple’s less dramatic updates, but, when combined with the Siri, iOS 5 and iCloud features, it presents an attractive new offering to smartphone users.
  • New iPhone Conceals Sheer Magic
  • More speed is always better, of course. But it’s not like people were complaining about the previous iPhone’s speed.
  • A much better, faster camera — among the best on a phone.
  • Speech recognition. Crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition.
  • It’s mind-blowing how inexact your utterances can be. Siri understands everything from, “What’s the weather going to be like in Tucson this weekend?†to “Will I need an umbrella tonight?†(She has various amusing responses for “What is the meaning of life?â€)
  • It’s even more amazing how Siri’s responses can actually form a conversation. Once, I tried saying, “Make an appointment with Patrick for Thursday at 3.†Siri responded, “Note that you already have an all-day appointment about ‘Boston Trip’ for this Thursday. Shall I schedule this anyway?†Unbelievable.
  • The question isn’t what’s in a name — it’s what’s in a phone. And the answer is: “A lot of amazing technology. And some of it feels like magic.â€

MG Siegler of TechCrunch:

  • This is the best iPhone yet.
  • the iPhone 4S blows away the iPhone 4 when it comes to speed.
  • This new camera in the iPhone 4S goes above and beyond. If the point-and-shoot market wasn’t in trouble before, it will be now.
  • the true killer feature of the device is Siri.
  • The amount of times Siri hasn’t been able to understand and execute my request is astonishingly low. I’ll say something that I’m sure Siri won’t be able to understand, and it gets it.
  • The one downside of Siri: because it uses server-side software to decipher what you’re saying (likely using Nuance-licensed technology), you have to be connected to the Internet in order for Siri to work. But that shouldn’t be an issue in most circumstances.
  • The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.
  • Competing phone-makers have had more than a year (a lot more considering the leaked photos of the iPhone 4 prior to its release) to best this design, and yet no one really has. As frustrating as it is to say this, no other phone on the market comes close to this level of craftsmanship, materials, or considered design.
  • The rear camera has been massively improved — and that’s saying a lot considering the original iPhone 4 sensor and lens were a pretty lethal combo.
  • The iPhone 4S has a noticeably different color tone, and blacks seem far less dark. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; when comparing Dead Space (a pretty dark game) side-by-side, I found the iPhone 4S display more eye-pleasing.
  • I did have a few dropped calls, but I also have dropped calls on my Nexus S — so I’m a little more apt to blame the network than the device.
  • The 4S is more than capable of going through a full business day without needing a charge, and if you’re a lighter user, you’ll rarely have to worry about it.
  • As far as processor performance is concerned, the iPhone 4S isn’t kidding around… though don’t expect mind-blowing speed differences between this device and its predecessor.
  • The crazy thing about Siri is that it works — at least most of the time — better than you’d expect it to.
  • I expected Siri to be smarter than it is right now, because… well, it’s already pretty damn smart.
  • With Siri, the iPhone finds its voice
  • The fifth-generation iPhone’s superb camera and speedy dual-core processor are classy additions. But Siri is the reason people should buy this phone.
  • To give you an idea of how convenient Siri is, it takes about three seconds to create a reminder with a voice command, as opposed to the 10 seconds it takes me to manually type an event into a to-do list or calendar entry.
  • It’s kind of like having the unpaid intern of my dreams at my beck and call, organizing my life for me. I think Siri on the iPhone is a life changer, and this is only the beginning.
  • Besides browsing and playing games, the smaller parts that make up the whole iOS experience all feel faster.
  • From my experience, talking on an iPhone 4S on AT&T sounds noticeably clearer than it did on past iPhones I’ve owned.
  • In dead zones where there is spotty AT&T coverage (pretty common here in San Francisco), the reception is still poor. There’s not much a phone can fix about an overloaded network, even with a fancy dual antenna.
  • Siri is the best androgynous unpaid intern you’ll ever meet. Dual-core guts make for faster apps and a smoother interface. Camera is much-improved. Call quality gets a boost.
Now that the early iPhone 4S reviews are in (in case you were waiting for them), let us know what you plan to do. Already pre-ordered? Planning to stand in line to get one on launch day? Pre-ordering one now? Planning to wait for the next generation iPhone?

Source: Early iPhone 4S Reviews

Early iPhone 4S Reviews

October 11th, 2011 10:47 admin View Comments

iPhone 4S

With just over two days to go for the official launch day, Apple has lifted the embargo on iPhone 4S reviews and we’ve started seeing some of the well known tech writers and critics publishing reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 4S.

Here are some of the highlights from each review:

Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD:

  • While Apple’s latest iPhone doesn’t look different, and may not be the kind of blockbuster people expect from the late Steve Jobs’s company, it thinks different, to quote one of Apple’s old ad slogans.
  • The standout feature, not available in other iPhones, or in any other phone I’ve seen, is Siri.
  • The iPhone 4S now comes with the same, dual-core processor found in the iPad 2. I didn’t notice a dramatic speed gain, but the phone operated rapidly and surely, with smooth scrolling and swiping.
  • Other phones boast 8-megapixel cameras, but the 4S takes the best pictures and high-definition videos I have seen on a phone.
  • My AT&T model dropped too many calls, just as earlier AT&T iPhones do. My colleague’s Verizon iPhone 4S dropped none.
  • While I didn’t run a formal battery test, the phone lasted all day, every day, even when I was doing heavy testing and, thus, using it more than I typically would.
  • The iPhone 4S is one of Apple’s less dramatic updates, but, when combined with the Siri, iOS 5 and iCloud features, it presents an attractive new offering to smartphone users.
  • New iPhone Conceals Sheer Magic
  • More speed is always better, of course. But it’s not like people were complaining about the previous iPhone’s speed.
  • A much better, faster camera — among the best on a phone.
  • Speech recognition. Crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition.
  • It’s mind-blowing how inexact your utterances can be. Siri understands everything from, “What’s the weather going to be like in Tucson this weekend?†to “Will I need an umbrella tonight?†(She has various amusing responses for “What is the meaning of life?â€)
  • It’s even more amazing how Siri’s responses can actually form a conversation. Once, I tried saying, “Make an appointment with Patrick for Thursday at 3.†Siri responded, “Note that you already have an all-day appointment about ‘Boston Trip’ for this Thursday. Shall I schedule this anyway?†Unbelievable.
  • The question isn’t what’s in a name — it’s what’s in a phone. And the answer is: “A lot of amazing technology. And some of it feels like magic.â€

MG Siegler of TechCrunch:

  • This is the best iPhone yet.
  • the iPhone 4S blows away the iPhone 4 when it comes to speed.
  • This new camera in the iPhone 4S goes above and beyond. If the point-and-shoot market wasn’t in trouble before, it will be now.
  • the true killer feature of the device is Siri.
  • The amount of times Siri hasn’t been able to understand and execute my request is astonishingly low. I’ll say something that I’m sure Siri won’t be able to understand, and it gets it.
  • The one downside of Siri: because it uses server-side software to decipher what you’re saying (likely using Nuance-licensed technology), you have to be connected to the Internet in order for Siri to work. But that shouldn’t be an issue in most circumstances.
  • The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.
  • Competing phone-makers have had more than a year (a lot more considering the leaked photos of the iPhone 4 prior to its release) to best this design, and yet no one really has. As frustrating as it is to say this, no other phone on the market comes close to this level of craftsmanship, materials, or considered design.
  • The rear camera has been massively improved — and that’s saying a lot considering the original iPhone 4 sensor and lens were a pretty lethal combo.
  • The iPhone 4S has a noticeably different color tone, and blacks seem far less dark. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; when comparing Dead Space (a pretty dark game) side-by-side, I found the iPhone 4S display more eye-pleasing.
  • I did have a few dropped calls, but I also have dropped calls on my Nexus S — so I’m a little more apt to blame the network than the device.
  • The 4S is more than capable of going through a full business day without needing a charge, and if you’re a lighter user, you’ll rarely have to worry about it.
  • As far as processor performance is concerned, the iPhone 4S isn’t kidding around… though don’t expect mind-blowing speed differences between this device and its predecessor.
  • The crazy thing about Siri is that it works — at least most of the time — better than you’d expect it to.
  • I expected Siri to be smarter than it is right now, because… well, it’s already pretty damn smart.
  • With Siri, the iPhone finds its voice
  • The fifth-generation iPhone’s superb camera and speedy dual-core processor are classy additions. But Siri is the reason people should buy this phone.
  • To give you an idea of how convenient Siri is, it takes about three seconds to create a reminder with a voice command, as opposed to the 10 seconds it takes me to manually type an event into a to-do list or calendar entry.
  • It’s kind of like having the unpaid intern of my dreams at my beck and call, organizing my life for me. I think Siri on the iPhone is a life changer, and this is only the beginning.
  • Besides browsing and playing games, the smaller parts that make up the whole iOS experience all feel faster.
  • From my experience, talking on an iPhone 4S on AT&T sounds noticeably clearer than it did on past iPhones I’ve owned.
  • In dead zones where there is spotty AT&T coverage (pretty common here in San Francisco), the reception is still poor. There’s not much a phone can fix about an overloaded network, even with a fancy dual antenna.
  • Siri is the best androgynous unpaid intern you’ll ever meet. Dual-core guts make for faster apps and a smoother interface. Camera is much-improved. Call quality gets a boost.
Now that the early iPhone 4S reviews are in (in case you were waiting for them), let us know what you plan to do. Already pre-ordered? Planning to stand in line to get one on launch day? Pre-ordering one now? Planning to wait for the next generation iPhone?

Source: Early iPhone 4S Reviews

Hotwire For Surgery

July 10th, 2011 07:11 admin View Comments

Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Dave Chase, the CEO of Avado.com, a health technology company that was a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist. Previously he was a management consultant for Accenture’s healthcare practice and was the founder of Microsoft’s Health business. You can follow him on Twitter @chasedave.

The hotel bed that is empty tonight can never be sold again. That insight led Hotwire to create a disruptive model that has given travelers great deals on hotel rooms. It turns out there are “beds” and “suites” of a different variety - Surgical Suites/Beds - that have a similar phenomena. Just as top hotels rarely are 100% booked and can earn incremental revenue from otherwise empty beds, top surgical facilities have a similar dynamic. That insight is what led National Surgery Network to develop a national marketplace for surgical procedures. (Disclosure: National Surgery Network may become a customer of my company, Avado.com, which is why I am so familiar with it.)

Over 1.5 million Americans travel abroad each year for medical procedures in what is called Medical Tourism. Services typically sought by medical tourists include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as heart surgery, dental surgery, joint replacement, and cosmetic surgeries. However, virtually every type of health care, including complementary & alternative treatments, psychiatry, and convalescent care are attracting Americans by saving as much as 90% off of medical procedures.

U.S. based healthcare providers have taken notice as have self-funded employers and health plans. The reality is most people, if given the choice, would rather travel for medical purposes to Tucson than Thailand to save time and uncertainty. Top surgical facilities realized they can be price competitive and have extra capacity so they have embarked on a program of domestic medical tourism. The byproduct, if you follow it to the logical extreme, is the creation of a national market for non-emergent surgery that has historically been strictly a local market. As the USA Today recently reported, costs commonly vary in healthcare by 600% or more (Source: change:healthcare) for the same procedure and same outcome even in the same city let alone from one to another.

The economics driving these savings are simple:

  • Target efficient, focused facilities – Many studies have demonstrated that doctors who perform procedures in high volume also have the best outcomes. Conversely, hospitals doing procedures less frequently often are more expensive and have outcomes inferior to higher volume facilities. Facilities and their staffs that are organized around particular specialties (e.g., cardiac procedures) can deliver care efficiently and effectively.
  • Simplified Payment – By developing comprehensive case rates for most procedures, they can reduce the administrative overhead of billing and reimbursement. Patients no longer receive the myriad bills and so-called Explanation of Benefits after a procedure. As NSN CEO Ken Erickson says, “Our patients no longer worry about uncovered costs and get one letter from the hospitals and doctors after a procedure…and that is a letter of thanks!”
  • Drive incremental volume to these providers – By filling beds and surgery slots, NSN patients are financially attractive at rates that are significantly lower than traditional reimbursements.

National Surgery Network is one of the first to identify this opportunity and has created a national network of surgical facilities that have been aggregated to offer to self-funded employer health plans (i.e., the employer directly pays for medical costs rather than buying traditional insurance) who have been frustrated with the hyperinflation they’ve felt covering their employees health costs. Currently, 110 million Americans are on health plans that are self-funded.

This is another example of the growing movement I call the Do-it-Yourself Health Reformmovement such as MedLion that was profiled earlier in The Most Important Organization In Silicon Valley That No One Has Heard About. That is, organizations such as National Surgery Network aren’t waiting around for politicians to fix what is widely understood to be the broken and most expensive facets of healthcare. Rather, through their own trial and error, they are refining care and payment models that are demonstrating impressive results. 

While the value proposition is clear for the employer who can save 10′s of thousands of dollars off of their employees’ medical bills, what’s in it for the employee? First, NSN only contracts with facilities that have shown the best track record for surgical procedures. The hospital closest to you may not have great outcomes and it’s tough for a typical consumer to assess that whereas that is NSN’s business to understand that. Second, a GetWell Benefit also rewards the patient financially for adhering to discharge protocols and for participating in longitudinal follow-up.

One woman who had a long history of heart problems required an aortic valve replacement.  The hospitals in her local market were poorly rated for heart care.  NSN arranged for the procedure to be performed by one of the leading surgeons at Heart Hospital of Austin.  Although the surgery required was more complex than anticipated, the outcome was a complete success.  The patient reported that although she had been in and out of hospitals for years, this was the first time she was being cared for and not just treated. NSN has what they call Care Navigators to help with a process that can be intimidating for patients.

NSN uses technology in support of personal interaction. They provide an on-line Health Information Portal to assist the patient in choosing a provider.  They also have care coordinators that establishes a personal relationship with each patient.

They use a secure on-line medical records system for easy access by the NSN physician specialist and the patient’s local/primary care.  Each patient using NSN receives their own electronic personal health record as an additional benefit. NSN is also deploying social media to help patients share their experiences and connect with one another in an environment that protects privacy and anonymity where appropriate.

TechCrunch contributor and venture capitalist Mark Suster has repeatedly stated that entrepreneurs should be solving the truly big challenges in our society — health, education and energy — instead of creating yet another social tool, location-based service or trivial application. NSN is doing exactly that.

Source: Hotwire For Surgery

Huffington Post Unique Visitors Surge To 28 Million In January

February 10th, 2011 02:47 admin View Comments

Huffington Post, our soon to be sister site (assuming government clearance of the AOL acquisition goes through), had quite a January. Unique U.S. visitors surged to 28 million in January from 24.5 million in December, according to Comscore. They’re nearing half a billion monthly page views in the U.S. as well, up from 439 million in December.

Why the jump? The site was hovering around 22 million U.S. monthly visitors for most of last year. There was a small jump in December, then the January surge. And that’s despite the fact that a cobranded Yahoo/Huffington Post page deal ended at the end of 2010.

The Tucson shooting was a big factor, says Huffington Post. As well as the 13th Zodiac sign ridiculousness. We also note that Huffington Post is the third result on Bing for “sex,” and Comscore says it’s the second biggest search query traffic driver, after “Huffington Post.”

I’m thinking if they could just increase the font size on those front page headlines, traffic could increase even more. :-)

Source: Huffington Post Unique Visitors Surge To 28 Million In January

Dead Dunes? Hardly—Dry Ice Triggers Sand Avalanches on Mars

February 3rd, 2011 02:18 admin View Comments

Across the far northern regions of Mars, a sea of dunes dots the red landscape, continuing on for thousands of miles. At first glance they appear like fossils of geography—reminders of a time when Mars was vivacious and windswept that now find themselves encrusted and stationary.

Looks can be deceiving. A research team confirms in Science this week that Mars’ dunes are not static. Atmospheric processes forged by the turning of Mars‘ seasons cut into the dunes and send sand flying about. Scientists just couldn’t see it before.

“I was hoping for tiny little changes to be detectable,” planetary scientist Candice Hansen-Koharcheck with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., [said]. “This was more like knock-your-socks-off kind of stuff. It’s a very active part of the Mars landscape in today’s climate.” [Discovery News]

Hansen-Koharcheck turned the HiRISE camera of the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on the dunes, and recorded for two Martian years (four Earth years or so). Earlier HiRISE pictures suggested that the dunes were not unchanging. These new images show not only that the dunes of Mars are a dynamic place, but, according to the team, that the forces pushing their evolution are not seen on our planet.

The changes could be forged by a layer of frozen carbon dioxide — dry ice — changing directly from solid to steam. “This is a very un-Earthly process,†Hansen said. Every winter, Mars’s polar cap is sheathed in a thin blanket of carbon dioxide. In the spring, the warming ice layer sublimates, or shifts directly to gaseous form without bothering to melt first. This sudden shift destabilizes the dunes and triggers avalanches. [Wired]

The sand avalanches don’t look like much from on high, as you can see in the images. But Hansen-Koharcheck says that in some places she saw more than a hundred cubic yards of sand cascading down the dunes over the course of a year.

All in all, sets of images from HiRISE revealed about 40 percent of the locations in this region changed during the time analyzed. This suggests it actually ranks among the most active landscapes on Mars, even though few changes in these dark-toned dunes had been detected before there until now. “We’ve got to look at Mars as a place that has active geology in today’s climate, not just sometime in the past,” Hansen said. [Space.com]

Image: Science / AAAS

Source: Dead Dunes? Hardly—Dry Ice Triggers Sand Avalanches on Mars

@KennethCole Sets New Bar For Social Media Stupidity

February 3rd, 2011 02:23 admin View Comments

“We had hoped this ad would change the world but we blue it.”

- Kenneth Cole

Finally someone sees the unrest in Egypt for the marketing opportunity it truly is! I’ve now spent a couple hours reeling from how insensitive it was for designer Kenneth Cole to use #Cairo to publicize the availability of his spring collection online when the Egypt is erupting in violence and millions were cut off from Internet communication for days.

My first thought here was, uh oh, some PR person is getting fired for this, the most egregious case of hashtag surfing fail I’ve ever seen. But apparently the tweet came from Cole himself, signed “-KC.”

Married to former NY Governor Mario Cuomo’s daughter Maria, Kenneth Cole feels entitled to publish consistently superfical ads that dabble in politics, most notably one that equated abortion to purses, “Dear pro-life advocates, Isn’t it a woman’s right to choose? After all, she’s the one carrying it.”

Econsultancy points out that furniture maker Habitat pulled a similar move when it hopped on the hashtags #Iran and #Mousavi in order to blatantly advertise its website during the Iran election protests. It ended up firing the intern responsible and deleting the account.

What did Kenneth Cole do? He sent out this pithy apology tweet.

Kenneth Cole@KennethCole
Kenneth Cole

Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC

about 3 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®RetweetReply

“We weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation.” Bullshit. Yes, yes you were. That’s exactly what you were doing. As of yet the media fiasco, estimated 1500 negative retweets an hour and an @KennethColePR spoof account haven’t affected the company’s stock price. But trust me they will. They will.

KennethColePR@KennethColePR
 

Rolling through Germany? Gestapo by our new Berlin store! #KennethColeTweets

17 minutes ago via webRetweetReply

Michael Arrington@arrington
Michael Arrington

@KennethCole I look forward to slavery and holocaust jokes next.

about 1 hour ago via webRetweetReply

Henry Blodget@hblodget
Henry Blodget

Hey, @kennethcole, who’s the idiot who sent this tweet? Has he/she been fired yet? http://read.bi/hdMVmj

about 2 hours ago via TweetDeckRetweetReply

Nathan Wurtzel@NathanWurtzel
Nathan Wurtzel

Hey, if you’re planning a murder spree, look good doing so in @KennethCole‘s new spring collection!

17 minutes ago via TweetDeckRetweetReply

Christine Lu@christinelu
Christine Lu

…looks like sh*t just hit the social media fan for Kenneth Cole today.

22 minutes ago via EchofonRetweetReply

KennethColePR@KennethColePR
 

Our Tucson store is locked and loaded with Spring looks! #KennethColeTweets

about 1 hour ago via webRetweetReply

Source: @KennethCole Sets New Bar For Social Media Stupidity

New Study Links Video Games and Mental Problems

January 17th, 2011 01:55 admin View Comments

eldavojohn writes “A new study published today in Pediatrics Journal conducted in Singapore on three thousand children in grades third, fourth, seventh and eighth claims that one in ten are video game addicts and almost all of those suffer mental health problems. This comes conveniently after the suspect in the Tucson shooting has widely been reported as an online gamer. Among the accusations from the study are that playing video games leads to lower school performance and fewer social skills while exacerbating existing depression, anxiety and social phobias. Gamasutra reports that the Entertainment Software Alliance is already criticizing this study saying ‘Its definition of ‘pathological gaming’ is neither scientifically nor medically accepted and the type of measure used has been criticized by other scholars. Other outcomes are also measured using dubious instruments when well-validated tools are readily available. In addition, because the effect sizes of the outcomes are mainly trivial, it leaves open the possibility the author is simply interpreting things as negatively as possible.’ It seems that the doctors are still disagreeing on whether or not gaming causes problems.”

Source: New Study Links Video Games and Mental Problems

Dueling Videos: Is Iranian Nuclear Scientist a Defector or Kidnap Victim?

June 9th, 2010 06:33 admin View Comments

AmiriHave you seen this man? If so, please ask him to make up his mind.

Shahram Amiri, a 32-year-old Iranian nuclear scientist, is at the center of an episode of United States-Iran intrigue that just got weirder, thanks to YouTube. Amiri disappeared during his pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia last year, and anonymous U.S. officials confirmed that he defected, presumably bringing information about Iran’s nuclear program. Now he—or someone purporting to be him—appears in two contradictory videos that claim he was either abducted and tortured by the United States or is living happily here and going about his studies.

The first video:

The dark-haired man, appearing unshaven and disheveled, said he was being held against his will in Tucson. “I was kidnapped in a joint operation by the American intelligence, CIA terror and kidnap teams, and Saudi Arabia’s Istikhbarat” spy service, the man said in a grainy video aired in Iran on Monday night. He said he had been drugged before being smuggled out of Saudi Arabia, adding that he had been subjected to “severe torture” and “psychological pressures” [Washington Post].

A very different Amiri showed up in a second video today. He, or someone like him, appears in a professionally shot video sitting in front of some parlor with a globe and a chess board, as if he wants to have a few minutes of our time to talk about life insurance.

In it, the man claiming to be Amiri contradicts many of the claims made in the earlier video, noting he is safely and happily residing in the U.S., though experts say it appears he is reading from a script. “I am free here, and I assure everyone I am safe,” he says in Farsi [Huffington Post].

So is it really him? Iran, of course, has the political motive to make it look like Amiri was a kidnapping victim and not a defector. And it makes no sense at all to think someone held against his will would be handed a Webcam and Internet access to beam his plight back to Iran. So maybe it’s an Iranian fake.

But there are more intriguing possibilities:

“Assuming there is some truth to the fact that he cooperated with CIA, he is either having mental issues or he is just trying to make the Iranians go easier on friends and family of his still inside by pushing the story he left against his will,” said Charles “Sam” Faddis, a retired CIA officer and author of several books on intelligence. He added: “Nobody kidnaps Iranian scientists and drags them against their will to the United States” [Washington Post].

Frankly, the bent and diction of both talks sound like they were written by government propagandists from one side or the other. The weird jockeying and doubletalk will probably continue because political tensions between Iran and the U.S. seem to be escalating: The U.S. just pushed through more diplomatic sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities, and Iran quashed rumors that it would trade the three American hikers still held there for Amiri. Pressing the case that Amiri was kidnapped, Iran filed a formal complaint with the Swiss. (Switzerland’s envoys handle our business there since official relations with Iran were cut off long ago.)

Source: Dueling Videos: Is Iranian Nuclear Scientist a Defector or Kidnap Victim?

Crowdsourcing the Department of Public Works

April 12th, 2010 04:13 admin View Comments

blackbearnh writes “Usually, Gov 2.0 deals mainly with outward transparency of government to the citizens. But SeeClickFix is trying to drive data in the other direction, letting citizens report and track neighborhood problems as mundane as potholes, and as serious as drug dealers. In a recent interview, co-founder Jeff Blasius talked about how cities such as New Haven and Tucson are using SeeClickFix to involve their citizens in identifying and fixing problems with city infrastructure. ‘We have thousands of potholes fixed across the country, thousands of pieces of graffiti repaired, streetlights turned on, catch basins cleared, all of that basic, broken-windows kind of stuff. We’ve seen neighborhood groups form based around issues reported on the site. We’ve seen people get new streetlights for their neighborhood, pedestrian improvements in many different cities, and all-terrain vehicles taken off of city streets. There was also one case of an arrest. The New Haven Police Department attributed initial reports on SeeClickFix to a sting operation that led to an arrest of two drug dealers selling heroin in front of a grammar school.’”

Source: Crowdsourcing the Department of Public Works

YOYOYOOYOYOYO