Why is Norway is expanding its armed forces now?

The Norwegian government posted this brief video explicitly for the benefit of English-speaking audiences a few weeks ago. The YouTube comments are turned off, but the description reads as follows,

“We asked the question: Why do we need the armed forces and a military? In the end what do we, as a nation, want to happen? This is the answer.”

The video is brief and well-produced. I’ll provide that referenced answer after the jump just in case anyone will consider it a spoiler for me to do otherwise.

(more…)

Published in: on January 20, 2019 at 3:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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US Mint ends production of one dollar coins

Last Tuesday, 13 December 2011, The U.S. Mint announced that current production of one dollar coins is ending. The Mint will continue to produce a few one dollar coins for collectors, as required by law. But these will have numismatic value, and cost more than $1.00.

instead of producing 70-80 million coins per president, the Mint will now only produce as many as collectors order.

US Mint one dollar coin

2010 Native American $1 Coin reverse

Forty percent of $1 coins were returned, unwanted, to the Federal Reserve Bank each year.

Circulating demand for $1 coins will be met through the Federal Reserve’s existing stockpile, which will be drawn down over time.

My favorite $1 coin featured Sacagawea, guide to Lewis & Clark. This is the 2010 Native American $1 coin, reverse side. It is beautiful. Click through for full details from the U.S. Mint. (more…)

Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm  Comments (6)  
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Ben-Ali departs Tunisia

After decades of autocratic rule, Ben-Ali fled the country last week. Rumors of his whereabouts are numerous. Two of the more likely destinations are Paris or Malta.

Ben Ali a quitté la Tunisie, le Premier ministre prêt à assumer le pouvoir

Tunisia heraldry lion ship scales of justice

Heraldry of Tunisia

Ben-Ali departed on 10 January 2011. The Prime Minister promptly assumed the role of head-of-state.

Since 2000, the people of Tunisia have been unhappy about Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali,

but they have opted to put up with the regime, much as one puts up with diabetes.

I hope for the best for Tunisia. I recall my Roman Republic and 20th century world history classes. Tunisia has a distinguished past: Hannibal, Carthage, Dido and Aeneas. The approximate successor to Carthage is Tunis, the capital.

I am favorably biased, due to my older brother’s wife. Sophie was born in Tunis. Her family was originally from Algeria, five generations ago. They were much happier and more prosperous after emigrating. Sophie told me that Tunis was a lovely city, cosmopolitan and hospitable.

Published in: on January 15, 2011 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Political Risk Exposure and Social Media

URL shortening was rarely seen anywhere other than micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter and Status Net’s identi.ca. Shortened URL’s are not prudent from an information security point-of-view, as one takes a leap of faith by clicking on a link that is not descriptive. Descriptive links are also preferable for economic reasons, as they are reputed to figure positively in the mysterious world of search engine optimization (SEO) for page rank.

Yet shortened URL’s are gaining acceptance. They are very convenient.

Coat of arms of Libya public domain image

Libyan Hawk of Qureish via Wikipedia

Twitter introduced its own shortening service in September. Facebook did too. Google provided URL shortening with its goo.gl product in December 2009. Google expanded the range of goo.gl for use on any domain, as it was restricted for use with Google product pages before October. However, there is a new and surprising consideration when making a case for, or against, URL shortening: Political risk exposure.

Top-level domains (TLD’s) are assigned by ICANN. Generally speaking, each sovereign nation has its own TLD. For example, websites registered in Australia use the .au suffix, German sites are .de , while Japanese sites are .jp . The Libyan Government is the official registrar, as designated by ICANN in 2005, for all .ly sites, which are also the domain-of-choice for leading URL shortening services bit.ly , ow.ly and vb.ly .  What will be the consequences of Libya’s domain seizure of vb.ly on October 6, reported by Econsultancy- When All Your Shortlinks Belong to the Libyan Government, on these .ly URLs?

RowFeeder is a social media oriented web analytics service. It stands out from the glut of other Twitter-verse services by delivering reports directly to a spreadsheet. In the RowFeeder company site’s latest post, lead developer and co-founder Damon Cortesi described a new feature for RowFeeder customers: availability of URL shortener bit.ly.

URL shortener feature for RowFeeder service

RowFeeder Offers URL Shortening with bit.ly

You can now put a bit.ly link in the tracking field, and have a new column in your downloads with bit.ly click counts at the time of each post… [storing] the click data along with the Tweets and Facebook posts about a specific piece of content.

In light of the recent disruption in the .ly domain space, I enjoyed the closing lines of the announcement:

Please note: This feature has not been approved by the Libyan government, so count clicks at your own risk. Our vb.ly integration is on hold pending recent news.

*Emphasis is NOT mine.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm  Comments (3)  
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U.S. Foreign Policy: State or Federal?

I was reading my hometown paper, The Las Cruces Sun News online version a few days ago and was unsettled after a glance at

Headline: Border governors meeting set for Sept. 19-20 in NM

Why are five governors of Mexico, our neighbor to the south but a foreign power nonetheless, meeting with governors of bordering states in Albuquerque? Doesn’t foreign policy fall under the federal aegis?

Then I thought, “Well, perhaps this is merely a wobble in the balance between State’s Rights versus The Federalist.”

I read the Associated Press news article more closely. It reminded me why foreign policy should be led by the Federal government: the RSVP list from North of the Border showed California and New Mexico attending the September meeting, with Arizona and Texas declining. I presume that Arizona State Bill 1070 regarding immigration law is the polarizing concern. And THAT sums up nicely the rationale for centrally coordinated foreign policy leadership. Solidly Federal-level. So that we remain indivisible, one nation, under… ummm well you know how it goes. No bifurcation. No squabbling. We don’t lose sight of the big picture. Secessionary sentiments remain historical artifacts and the stuff of science fiction nightmares.

I like stability and a unified front. I confess, I am a worrier. I am worried about the State of Our Union.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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