November 29th, 2010
By Ben Birnbaum / The Washington Times / November 29, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday accused the United States of orchestrating WikiLeaks' Sunday release of more than 250,000 internal State Department cables, some of which suggest that Arab leaders fear Iran's nuclear program and regional influence.
"The material was not leaked but rather released in an organized way," Mr. Ahmadinejad said, adding that the WikiLeaks "game" is "not worth commenting upon and that no one would waste their time reviewing them."
"The U.S. administration released them, and based on them, they pass judgment. ... [The documents] have no legal value and will not have the political effect they seek," he said.
"Cablegate," as it already is being called, contained numerous revelations ranging from State Department orders for U.S. diplomats to act as de-facto intelligence agents to the role of the Chinese Politburo in the cyber attack on Google.
But none garnered more headlines than the unusually blunt language many Arab leaders used in private to discuss Iran.
One April 2008 cable from Riyadh speaks of Saudi King Abdullah's "frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program [or to] cut off the head of the snake," as the monarch is quoted as saying.
Another, from Cairo in March 2009, says that Egyptian President Hosni "Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as 'liars,' and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region."
An April 2009 cable from Amman notes that "[t]he metaphor most commonly deployed by Jordanian officials when discussing Iran is of an octopus whose tentacles reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best laid plans of the West and regional moderates."
The cables also report that leaders of small Gulf states, such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have — like the Saudi king — urged military action against Iran. The prime minister of Qatar, one Gulf state with closer ties to Tehran, is quoted in a December 2009 missive from Doha as describing his country's relationship with the Iranians as one in which "[t]hey lie to us, and we lie to them."
Mr. Ahmadinejad shrugged off the reported comments, saying that "the countries in the region are like friends and brothers."
"These acts of mischief," he said, referring to WikiLeaks, "will not affect their relations."
© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC.
November 29th, 2010
By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press
GRATON, Calif. – As Americans downsize in the aftermath of a colossal real estate bust, at least one tiny corner of the housing market appears to be thriving. To save money or simplify their lives, a small but growing number of Americans are buying or building homes that could fit inside many people's living rooms, according to entrepreneurs in the small house industry.
Some put these wheeled homes in their backyards to use as offices, studios or extra bedrooms. Others use them as mobile vacation homes they can park in the woods. But the most intrepid of the tiny house owners live in them full-time, paring down their possessions and often living off the grid.
"It's very un-American in the sense that living small means consuming less," said Jay Shafer, 46, co-founder of the Small House Society, sitting on the porch of his wooden cabin in California wine country. "Living in a small house like this really entails knowing what you need to be happy and getting rid of everything else."
Shafer, author of "The Small House Book," built the 89-square-foot house himself a decade ago and lived in it full-time until his son was born last year. Inside a space the size of an ice cream truck, he has a kitchen with gas stove and sink, bathroom with shower, two-seater porch, bedroom loft and a "great room" where he can work and entertain — as long as he doesn't invite more than a couple guests.
He and his family now live in relatively sprawling 500-square foot home next to the tiny one.
Shafer, co-owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, designs and builds miniature homes with a minimalist style that prizes quality over quantity and makes sure no cubic inch goes to waste. Most can be hooked up to public utilities. The houses, which pack a range of amenities in spaces smaller than some people's closets, are sold for $40,000 to $50,000 ready-made, but cost half as much if you build it yourself.
Tumbleweed's business has grown significantly since the housing crisis began, Shafer said. He now sells about 50 blueprints, which cost $400 to $1,000 each, a year, up from 10 five years ago. The eight workshops he teaches around the country each year attract 40 participants on average, he said.
"People's reasons for living small vary a lot, but there seems to be a common thread of sustainability," Shafer said. "A lot of people don't want to use many more resources or put out more emissions than they have to."
Compared to trailers, these little houses are built with higher-quality materials, better insulation and eye-catching design. But they still have wheels that make them portable — and allow owners to get around housing regulations for stationary homes.
Since the housing crisis and recession began, interest in tiny homes has grown dramatically among young people and retiring Baby Boomers, said Kent Griswold, who runs the Tiny House Blog, which attracts 5,000 to 7,000 visitors a day.
"In the last couple years, the idea's really taken off," Griswold said. "There's been a huge interest in people downsizing and there are a lot of young people who don't want to be tied down with a huge mortgage and want to build their own space."
Gregory Johnson, who co-founded the Small House Society with Shafer, said the online community now has about 1,800 subscribers, up from about 300 five years ago. Most of them live in their small houses full-time and swap tips on living simple and small.
Johnson, 46, who works as a computer consultant at the University of Iowa, said dozens of companies specializing small houses have popped up around the country over the past few years.
Before he got married, Johnson lived for six years in a small cabin he built himself and he wrote a book called "Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned from Living in 140 Square Feet."
"You start to peel away the things that are unnecessary," said Johnson, who now lives in a studio apartment with his wife. "It helps you define your priorities with regard to your material things."
Northern California's Sonoma County has become a mini-mecca for the tiny house industry, with an assortment of new businesses launching over the last few years.
Stephen Marshall, 63, worked as a building contractor for three decades before the real estate market tanked three years ago. That's when he jumped into the tiny house business, starting Petaluma-based Little House On The Trailer.
His company builds and sells small houses that can serve as stand-alone homes equipped with bathrooms and kitchens, and others he calls "A Room of One's Own" that can be used as a home office or extra bedroom. Many of his customers are looking for extra space to accommodate an aging parent or adult children who are returning home, he said.
He said his small houses, which sell for $20,000 to $50,000, are much cheaper than building a home addition and can be resold when the extra space is no longer needed. His company has sold 16 houses this year and aims to sell 20 next year.
"The business is growing as the public becomes aware of this possibility," Marshall said. "A lot of families are moving in with one another. A lot of young people can't afford to move out. There's just a lot of economic pressure to find an alternative way to provide for people's housing needs."
Top Stories From Yahoo
November 29th, 2010
Fox News / November 29, 2010
The Atlantic hurricane season ends Tuesday, going down as one of the busiest on record but blissfully sparing the U.S. coastline a major hurricane for a fifth straight year.
While extreme tropical weather ravaged Haiti, Mexico and elsewhere, U.S. forecasters are wondering if the nation can make history and extend its luck into 2011. If so, it would be the first time ever that the U.S. escaped a major hurricane for six years.
"That would be a record I would like to break," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
All told, 19 named storms formed in the Atlantic, tying with the 1887 and 1995 seasons for third-highest on record. Twelve became hurricanes, tying with the 1969 season for the second-highest on record.
In the U.S., Texas suffered the worst of the tropical weather.
Flooding spurred by Tropical Storm Hermine was blamed for the deaths of at least seven people in Texas. Hurricane Alex damaged or destroyed more than 300 homes in Texas and caused an estimated $42 million in damage to infrastructure.
Aside from that, Tropical Storm Bonnie sent crews working to stop the flow of oil from a blown-out rig in the Gulf of Mexico into a fury. And Hurricane Earl brought flooding to North Carolina's Outer Banks and some rain to Cape Cod, but little damage.
"Fortunately most storms avoided the U.S.," said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. "You could say the season was a gentle giant."
Not so elsewhere, though.
Hurricane Tomas killed 14 people in St. Lucia and at least eight in Haiti. Hurricane Alex caused flooding that killed 12 people in Mexico. Hurricane Igor knocked out power to half of Bermuda but spared the country major damage or injuries.
A persistent low-pressure system through the height of hurricane season is credited with the U.S. escaping major harm. The western edge of the high-pressure system that drove tropical weather from the coast of Africa was eroded by the low pressure, and ultimately helped propel it away from the U.S. shore.
"That's not an unusual pattern at all," Feltgen said, "and we're fortunate that it was in place at the height of the season."
The last major hurricane of Category 3 or stronger to hit the U.S. was Wilma in 2005.
National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
November 29th, 2010
November 29, 2010
November 29th, 2010
By Jane Jamison
Once again, WikiLeaks crapweasel Julian Assange is doing a tap dance with a standing ovation and two encores.
The wormy little American Army private who downloaded bushel backets of classified military and state department documents and cables is behind bars and hopefully facing big time, but the founder of Wikileaks is still on the loose and still “leaking” like crazy.
Another huge document drop of cables and communiqués has now been posted online by WikiLeaks, papers which show the inner thinkings and workings of the U.S. State department and frank discussions with allies. It’s all very embarrassing and has had the Obama administration on the phone all week trying to make amends and save face.
(Read More "Why So Whiny Over Wikileaks?"