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Archive for October, 2012

Apple Has Quietly Started Tracking iPhone Users Again, And It’s Tricky To Opt Out

Posted by Admin on October 21, 2012

http://www.businessinsider.com/ifa-apples-iphone-tracking-in-ios-6-2012-10

Jim Edwards| Oct. 11, 2012, 9:00 AM

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5 in September came with a bunch of new commercialsto promote the device.But Apple didn’t shout quite so loud about an enhancement to its new mobile operating system, iOS 6, which also occurred in September: The company has started tracking users so that advertisers can target them again, through a new tracking technology called IFA or IDFA.Previously, Apple had all but disabled tracking of iPhone users by advertisers when it stopped app developers from utilizing Apple mobile device data via UDID, the unique, permanent, non-deletable serial number that previously identified every Apple device.

For the last few months, iPhone users have enjoyed an unusual environment in which advertisers have been largely unable to track and target them in any meaningful way.

In iOS 6, however, tracking is most definitely back on, and it’s more effective than ever, multiple mobile advertising executives familiar with IFA tell us. (Note that Apple doesn’t mention IFA in its iOS 6 launch page).

Users can switch off that targeting, but it’s tricky, as we discovered a couple of days ago. Although at least iOS 6 users are able to turn off tracking, which they weren’t before.

Here’s how it works.

IFA or IDFA stands for “identifier for advertisers.” It’s a random, anonymous number that is assigned to a user and their device. It is temporary and can be blocked, like a cookie.

When you look at an app, or browse the web, your presence generates a call for an ad. The publisher’s site that you’re looking at then passes the IFA to the ad server. The advertiser is then able to know that a specific iPhone user is looking at a specific publication and can serve an ad targeting that user. IFA becomes particularly useful, for instance, if an ad server notices that a particular IFA is looking at a lot of different car sites. Perhaps that user is interested in buying a new car. They’ll likely start seeing a lot of car ads on their iPhone.

More importantly, IFA will allow advertisers to track the user all the way to “conversion” — which for most advertisers consists of an app download. Previously, advertisers had no idea whether their ads actually drove people to download apps or buy things. Now IFA will tell them.

The IFA does not identify you personally — it merely provides a bunch of aggregate audience data that advertisers can target with ads.

iphone 5 limit ad tracking

iPhone Screengrab

Tracking is on by default

The new iPhone operating system comes with three things that make tracking easier for advertisers and reduce the likelihood that you’ll opt out.

  • iOS 6 comes in a default “tracking on” position. You have to affirmatively switch it off if you do not want advertisers to see what you’re up to.
  • The tracking control in iPhone’s settings is NOT contained where you might expect it, under the “Privacy” menu. Instead, it’s found under “General,” then “About,” and then the “Advertising” section of the Settings menu.
  • The tracking control is titled “Limit Ad Tracking,” and must be turned to ON, not OFF, in order to work. That’s slightly confusing — “ON” means ads are off! — so a large number of people will likely get this wrong.

Those three factors combined mean that a huge proportion of iPhone users are unlikely to ever opt out of tracking.

“It’s a really pretty elegant, simple solution,” says Mobile Theory CEO Scott Swanson. “The biggest thing we’re excited about is that it’s on by default, so we expect most people will leave it on.”

(His take on IFA’s capabilities was confirmed by two other mobile ad execs at rival companies.)

Again, IFA doesn’t identify you as a person to advertisers. What it does do, however, is provide advertisers with “a really meaningful inference of behavior,” Swanson says. “We haven’t had access to that information before.”

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Destiny and Free Will

Posted by Admin on October 16, 2012

by Owen K Waters

In the Old Reality, things were seen as opposites – hot or cold, black or white, good or bad, this way or that way. In the expanded view of New Reality consciousness, life is seen in a unified way. Opposite sides of the coin are viewed, not as polar opposites, but rather as just being different aspects of the one coin.

In the New Reality view of the world, the opposite extremes of hot and cold become variable degrees of warmth. Black and white become, instead, endless shades of gray. Good and bad become different shades of human nature and these can be viewed without the judgment and fear that comes with Old Reality, polarized thinking.

In the Old Reality, destiny and free will were seen as mutually exclusive. The reasoning was that, if destiny exists, then it controls everything and, therefore, free will does not exist. On the other hand, you can prove that free will does exist by making a choice. So, as the thinking goes, if free will does exist, then there can be no destiny.

But, wait. Perhaps that choice of “free will” was really a pre-destined one. Perhaps the person was destined to make that choice all along, so the experience of choice was just an illusion. At this point, people usually give up on the whole question because it has turned into one of those brain teasers, like asking which came first – the chicken or the egg.

Brain teasers keep your mind in an endless loop until you step back from the situation and see it in a wider perspective. The new, wider perspective allows for the inclusion of non-materialistic factors. In deciding whether the chicken or the egg came first, for example, you just have to step back and see that the Creator designed the chicken to be self-perpetuating.

When you step back and see destiny and free will from a wider perspective, you realize that nothing has to be absolute. If every event in your life were pre-ordained, there would be no such thing as free will or self-determination. As we do have free will, destiny cannot be fixed.

Destiny is therefore variable, not fixed. Destiny and free will both exist as interwoven facets of your life. Like threads in a tapestry, they interact with each other and blend to form the outcomes that are the events in your life.

Your destiny is created by plans that you made at a soul level of consciousness. Before you were born, you made your main plan for this life. Then, the minute you were born, the rules of the game demanded that you also get a case of amnesia about the whole arrangement. Such is the game of life in the physical realm.

However, at night when you go to sleep, you have the ability to go to the deepest levels of human consciousness and review how the original plan is unfolding and make changes to your plan if desired. When you return to your physical body and awake in the morning, amnesia strikes again. Within seconds of your conscious mind returning into your physical brain, you forget both the surface dreams and the deep experiences of the night.

Amnesia may be a part of the game we are playing in this life, but inner guidance is always available to anyone who pays attention to it. Your intuition is your link to your soul, or inner being, which is also linked to the rest of the universe and all levels of Creation.

You are never left alone to fumble in the darkness of a purely physical life. Your inner being is always there with you, expressing itself through the quiet whisperings of intuitive information. Thanks to this inner compass of knowing, you can always sense which choice feels right. You can always tell when your life is running on plan, and you can tell equally well if you’ve become temporarily distracted from your plan. You always have the means to be right on course, or get back on course, and explore the fascinating themes that make up your life plan.

The most productive use of free will is to explore your true potential within the themes of your life, thus gaining the greatest possible experience from your life plan.

Destiny is an influence that comes from your inner plan. There is nothing absolute about your destiny. It’s a pressure which constantly seeks the best route to unfold into manifestation.

Free will provides the means to manifest that destiny in a way that provides the learning that you came here to acquire in this life.

Destiny is variable. It adapts to new circumstances in your life every day. As destiny unfolds, you feel it within as a sense of being a part of the flow of life, of manifesting your potential in the way that you planned for this day and that you planned for this life.

Destiny is the plan. Free will is the action. Experience is the result.

That’s what being human is.

This was an excerpt from Owen Waters’ book, Spirituality Made Simple.*

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The Meaning of Life

Posted by Admin on October 10, 2012

by Owen K Waters

Just as there were rules to understand in the Old Reality, there are rules which are best adopted when taking action in the New Reality.

The Old Reality was about gaining courage and developing intellect. The New Reality is about unconditional love and inner wholeness.

Wholeness is personally-inspired integrity without the “shoulds” that others may try to impose upon you.

The frequency of consciousness in the New Reality is heart-centered. Unconditional love comes naturally; you need only let it flow through your heart and allow that energy to be who you are.

When you shift to the expanded consciousness of the New Reality, the universe reorganizes itself around you to reflect that higher reality. Externally-imposed rules are replaced by internal, love-based choices.

To become whole is to become harmoniously fully-functional. In such a reality, you treat yourself and others with unconditional love and care. To care less than that for yourself, or less than that for others, would mean being less than whole.

You are an expression of Infinite Being as it experiences itself from all possible perspectives. Your perspective is unique, as is everyone else’s. That is the point of the whole exercise – for Infinite Being to experience life from as many perspectives as possible.

In order to best support this primary mission of human experience, we need to both celebrate our own uniqueness and support others in their efforts to develop their own skills and talents. Unity is our spiritual nature, yet it is found through celebrating our diversity in the common cause of developing our potential to the fullest.

The One is the All and, as parts of the All, we are essentially the One. At the deepest level of consciousness, we are Infinite Being.

Everyone’s path is unique because that’s the way life was designed. There is no one-size-fits-all philosophy. However, we can learn about the universal laws that will help us achieve our potential in life.

Your mind is non-physical and therefore has higher capabilities than your physical brain. Your mind is immortal and it grows with experience. We are each on our own pathways back to the One source from which we originally came. To get there, we continually grow in consciousness by experiencing life.

The meaning of life is to grow in consciousness.

This was an excerpt from Owen Waters’ book, Spirituality Made Simple.*

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Shutdown hits normal life in Karnataka

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/shutdown-hits-normal-life-karnataka-063958980–finance.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – 14 hours ago

Bangalore, Oct 6 (IANS) A day-long shutdown to protest the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu crippled life in Karnataka Saturday.

The state-wide shutdown called by farmers and pro-Kannada organisations is supported by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular.

Uneasy calm prevailed in Bangalore and other cities and towns of the state.

“The 12-hour shutdown began at 6 a.m. There were stray incidents of road blockade, forcible closure of shops and damage to a couple of state-run buses,” a senior police official told IANS here.

The state-run transport services of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) were suspended amid fears of damage to the vehicles by miscreants.

Although train and flight services remained unaffected, passengers were stranded at the railway station here, as autorickshaws and taxis remained off the roads.

The state education department late Friday advised schools and colleges to declare a holiday Saturday to ensure safety of students during the bandh.

Companies offering 24×7 services like call centres and business process outsourcing had to make arrangements to escort their employees to work and back home.

With commercial establishments like shops, malls, restaurants and petrol pumps shut, life has virtually come to a standstill in the state capital, Mysore, Hassan, Mangalore, Hubli, Belgaum and Shimoga.

Supply of essential commodities like milk and medicines and ambulance service were, however, exempted from the shutdown.

The security has been beefed up across the state.

Additional police personnel were deployed at vital installations and sensitive areas, especially in Bangalore.

The state has been releasing 9,000 cusecs of water daily since Sep 29 in compliance with the Supreme Court order of Sep 19, directing the prime minister, who is also the chairman of the Cauvery River Authority, to supervise the distribution of water in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

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Companies That Collaborated With Nazis

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2012

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/companies-collaborated-nazis-211837425.html

By Greg McFarlane | Investopedia – Wed 3 Oct, 2012 2:48 AM IST

For a brief period in the late 1930s and 1940s, Adolf Hitler managed to redefine and personify evil in a way that even ancient mass-murderers such as Tamerlane and Genghis Khan never aspired to. By virtue of Hitler taking complete control of the most powerful country on the European continent, practically every existing business entity in Germany thus became a de facto instrument of this new and tyrannical government. At that time, doing business in Germany meant supporting Hitler, so it’s not fair to frame all these businesses as enthusuastic Nazi collaborators. While some of these businesses exist and flourish today, it’s likely that millions of their customers have no idea of these companies’ past dealings with the Nazi party.

Bayer
It seems that almost any German multinational of a certain vintage can find a link to the Nazi regime. In some cases, that link is more direct than in others. Bayer was founded in Germany in 1863, and has been a household name in North America since not long after. Today, despite making everything from polymers to blood glucose monitors, Bayer remains most famous for being the company that first discovered (or more accurately, isolated) aspirin.

The most outrageous thing about Bayer’s connection to the Nazi regime is the timing. In 1956, Bayer welcomed a new chairman of the board: a second-generation chemist named Fritz ter Meer. Bayer’s directors must have liked what they saw in Fritz ter Meer, whose resume included the study of law, employment with his father’s company and three years in prison for war crimes.

It’s not as if ter Meer had been punished for, say, being ordered against his will to stand guard at Dachau. No, he helped plan Monowitz, a concentration camp better known as Auschwitz III. He also built the infamous Buna factory, where his colleagues conducted human experiments and forced slaves to build critical components for the Wehrmacht. Furthermore, Fritz ter Meer never denied his involvement, and he was sentenced to seven years in prison during the infamous Nuremburg Trials.

However, ter Meer served less than half of his sentence. Even then, having been subjected to a wrist slap from a light and fluffy pillow, ter Meer didn’t merely fall into obscurity. He not only held the highest executive position at Bayer, but also served on the boards of several other companies before retiring in the 1960s and dying of natural causes at the age of 83.

Siemens
Next time you’re in your garage, look at the brand names of the products you find. If you own a damping pin, turbo compressor or fluoroscope, there’s a good chance it carries the Siemens logo. The company is worth approximately $89 billion, employs roughly 370,000 people and claims to operate in about 190 countries.

When World War II became the major topic of concern for Germany, Siemens was there. The company forced slaves to manufacture components for the rockets that ended up raining down on London and Antwerp, Belgium in short order. In the early 21st century, Siemens began to pay reparations to the workers it had paid nary a pfennig to 55 years earlier.

IG Farben
For some of us of a certain age, BASF was the company that made cassette tapes. Another German multinational that’s been around since the 19th century, BASF is similar to Siemens in another way, in that it produces the unglamorous if vital things that make life better: engineering plastics, chemical coatings and polymers that their end users don’t even notice.

In 1925, BASF and a couple of partners formed an infamous conglomerate named IG Farben. One of the chemicals manufactured by the company at the time was Zyklon B, which was the gas used to suffocate untold millions of concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust.

In 1951, when the victors partitioned Germany, the Western Allies restored IG Farben into its original components. Today, BASF continues to trade as one of the featured securities on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, with a market capitalization of over $60 billion.

The Bottom Line
In a world where Chick-Fil-A can face a boycott because of the religious views of its chairman, and British Petroleum can be the subject of virulent protests because of a tragic accident, it’s tough to imagine what form of consumer activism would be appropriate if the companies featured on this list were doing business today with hated regimes.

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Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

Posted by Admin on October 4, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/photos/shocking-photos-poachers-chop-rhinos-horns-slideshow/

Rattled by the slaughter of six rhinos in a week, Dispur has decided to constitute a state wildlife crime control bureau to protect the state’s fauna. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi made the announcement today while expressing concern over the recent spate of rhino poaching in and around Kaziranga National Park. He said the proposed bureau would track criminals, manage databases, carry out thorough investigation and break the network of poachers. (telegraphindia.com)

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

Villagers look at a wounded rare one horned Rhinoceros which was shot and dehorned by poachers in a jungle in Parku hills near Kaziranga National Park, about 250 kilometers east of Guwahati. Two rare rhinos brutally attacked by poachers this week in northeast India have died, veterinarians said September 29, 2012 triggering protests at local authorities’ failure to protect the animals. AFP PHOTO/Biju BORO

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

Indian forest officials stand near a one horned horn Rhinoceros, which was killed and de-horned by the poachers at Karbi hills near Kaziranga National Park, some 250km east of Guwahati the capital city the northeastern state of Assam on September 27, 2012. A rhino was killed by poachers and its horn removed in the early hours on Thursday, barely a day after one was killed and another left bleeding in the world-famous Kaziranga National Park. AFP PHOTO/ Biju Boro

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

An Indian forest official shows the bullets used by poachers to shoot a one horned horn Rhinoceros, which was killed and de-horned by the poachers at Karbi hills near Kaziranga National Park, some 250km east of Guwahati the capital city the northeastern state of Assam on September 27, 2012. A rhino was killed by poachers and its horn removed in the early hours on Thursday, barely a day after one was killed and another left bleeding in the world-famous Kaziranga National Park. AFP PHOTO/ Biju Boro

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

An Indian Forestry Department official, riding an elephant, pulls away the carcass of a rhino killed by poachers at Bagori range in Kaziranga National Park, some 250 kms east of Guwahati, on September 28, 2012. A rare rhino, whose horn was hacked off by poachers, died after struggling for its life for over a day. The gravely injured rhino was found in the deluged Kaziranga National Park on September 27, bleeding from gunshot injuries and a huge wound on its snout after poachers cut off its horn, nose and part of its ear. AFP PHOTO/BIJU BORO

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

In this file photograph taken on September 26, 2012 villagers look at a wounded endangered one horned Rhinoceros which was shot and dehorned by poachers in the jungle of Parku hills near Kaziranga National Park, about 250 kilometers east of Guwahati. Two rare rhinos brutally attacked by poachers this week in northeast India have died, veterinarians said September 29, 2012, triggering protests at local authorities’ failure to protect the animals. AFP PHOTO/ Biju BORO/FILES

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

Rattled by the slaughter of six rhinos in a week, Dispur has decided to constitute a state wildlife crime control bureau to protect the state’s fauna. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi made the announcement today while expressing concern over the recent spate of rhino poaching in and around Kaziranga National Park. He said the proposed bureau would track criminals, manage databases, carry out thorough investigation and break the network of poachers.The government took the decision after drawing flak from various quarters over its failure to curb poaching of rhinos in the state. The state bureau is likely to be constituted on the lines of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, which was formed by the Centre on June 6, 2007, by amending the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

He said the number of anti-poaching camps in Karbi Anglong district would also be increased to prevent killing of Kaziranga rhinos that strayed into the district during floods. “I will take up the issue (of setting up of the camps) with Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council as Karbi Anglong is a Sixth Schedule area.” The chief minister also stressed the involvement local people in wildlife conservation and mooted constitution of animal defence parties on the lines of village defence parties.Slamming the Opposition for criticising his government over the incidents of rhino poaching, he said Assam was among the best performing states in the country in wildlife conservation and the number of rhinos had ncreased in Kaziranga during his tenure. “The number of rhinos has increased from 1,080 in 1984 to 2,201 in 2001.”

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

Gogoi, however, was quick to add, “I am not trying to justify the recent killings of rhinos at Kaziranga. We have taken it very seriously. What I am saying is that nobody should play politics on this issue.”The chief minister said the state government would publish a white paper on steps taken by it for protection of animals and those taken by erstwhile governments.He said the increase in number of rhinos in Kaziranga had, in fact, become a problem, with the animals straying out of the protected area to adjoining forests in Karbi Anglong district, where poachers and militants attacked them for their horns.Sources said one way of tackling the poaching menace during the floods was to deploy adequate security forces like the CRPF and army in the Karbi Anglong hills, to which the animals head in search of higher ground. “There is need for heavier deployment of security forces between April and October when floods occur and the animals of the park start moving to Karbi Anglong,” a source said.

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

According to him, in Karbi Anglong, the weapon to guard ratio was 1:2, which was unfavourable in an encounter situation. “Besides, we have weapons like the .303 and .315 rifles which have to be cocked for every shot, by which time the poachers, who are armed with automatic weapons, can fire several bursts,” he said. The source said all poachers, however, did not have sophisticated weapons. “We have found empty cases and live cartridges of SLRs and AK-series rifles as also those of .303. This shows that even militants could be involved apart from the traditional poachers whose signature is the 303 rifle,” he said.Asked about a possible remedy, he said local youths should be provided livelihood opportunities to keep them from being lured by poaching gangs. “We must be able to ensure another generation of poachers does not come up while dealing with those already into the trade.”

Shocking Photos: Poachers chop Rhinos’ horns

Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) standing mist of long grasses, Kazaringa, India.

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US military deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000

Posted by Admin on October 1, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/us-military-deaths-afghanistan-hit-2-000-063934010.html

By PATRICK QUINN | Associated Press – 3 hrs ago

FILE– In this file photograph made on July 29, 2010, upon landing after a helicopter rescue mission, Tech. Sgt. Jeff Hedglin, right, an Air Force Pararescueman, or PJ, drapes an American flag over the remains of the first of two U.S. soldiers killed minutes earlier in an IED attack, assisted by fellow PJs, Senior Airman Robert Dieguez, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Carlisle, in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have surpassed 2,000, a grim reminder that a war which began nearly 11 years ago shows no signs of slowing down despite an American decision to begin the withdrawal of most of its combat forces. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The killing of an American serviceman in an exchange of fire with allied Afghan soldiers pushed U.S. military deaths in the war to 2,000, a cold reminder of the perils that remain after an 11-year conflict that now garners little public interest at home.

The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies — against American and NATO troops. That has raised troubling questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years.

“The tally is modest by the standards of war historically, but every fatality is a tragedy and 11 years is too long,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “All that is internalized, however, in an American public that has been watching this campaign for a long time. More newsworthy right now are the insider attacks and the sense of hopelessness they convey to many. “

Attacks by Afghan soldiers or police — or insurgents disguised in their uniforms — have killed 52 American and other NATO troops so far this year.

“We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign,” the U.S. military’s top officer, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said about the insider threat.

The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, was blunter.

“I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” Allen told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday. “It reverberates everywhere across the United States. You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”

The insider attacks are considered one of the most serious threats to the U.S. exit strategy from the country. In its latest incarnation, that strategy has focused on training Afghan forces to take over security nationwide — allowing most foreign troops to go home by the end of 2014.

As part of that drawdown, the first 33,000 U.S. troops withdrew by the end of September, leaving 68,000 still in Afghanistan. A decision on how many U.S. troops will remain next year will be taken after the American presidential elections. NATO currently has 108,000 troops in Afghanistan — including U.S. forces — down from nearly 150,000 at its peak last year.

The program to train and equip 350,000 Afghan policemen and soldiers has cost the American taxpayer more than $22 billion in the past three years.

The most recent attack came just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said most U.S. and coalition combat units in Afghanistan returned to their practice of partnering with Afghan forces, nearly two weeks after the top U.S. commander put restrictions on such cooperation.

Like so many other deaths in Afghanistan, the latest were shrouded in confusion and conflicting accounts.

On Sunday, U.S. officials confirmed the deaths of two Americans, a service member and a civilian contractor killed late Saturday.

The fighting started when insurgents attacked a checkpoint set up by U.S. forces in eastern Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman. He said the insurgents apparently used mortars in the attack. The Americans thought they were under attack from their allies at a nearby Afghan army checkpoint and fired on it. The Afghan soldiers returned fire, Shahid said.

The Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said the shooting broke out as a result of a “misunderstanding” while ISAF forces were on patrol near an Afghan army checkpoint.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, commonly referred to as ISAF, gave a different account of the fighting in Sayd Abad district.

“After a short conversation took place between (Afghan army) and ISAF personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague,” the coalition said in a statement. It said the three Afghan soldiers died “in an ensuing exchange of fire.”

NATO did not say whether it considered this an “insider” attack on foreign forces by Afghan allies.

In Washington, Pentagon press secretary George Little said 2,000 deaths is one of the “arbitrary milestones defined by others ” that the U.S. administration does not mark.

“We honor all courageous Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan to make the American people more secure,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that America is safer because of all of those who have served in this war, including our fallen heroes.”

In addition to the 2,000 Americans killed since the Afghan war began on Oct. 7, 2001, at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization that tracks the deaths.

According to the Afghanistan index kept by Brookings, about 40 percent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity. The surge brought the total number of American troops to 101,000, the peak for the entire war.

According to Brookings, hostile fire was the second most common cause of death, accounting for nearly 31 percent of Americans killed.

Tracking deaths of Afghan civilians is much more difficult. According to the U.N., 13,431 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began keeping statistics, and the end of August. Going back to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, most estimates put the number of Afghan civilian deaths in the war at more than 20,000.

In recent years, some of those casualties have generated a great deal of criticism from President Hamid Karzai and changed the way NATO forces carry out airstrikes. The overwhelming majority of civilian casualties are caused by insurgents — with the United Nations blaming them for more than 80 percent of the deaths and NATO putting that figure at more than 90 percent.

The number of American dead reflects an Associated Press count of those members of the armed services killed inside Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion began. Some other news organizations use a count that also includes those killed outside Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the global anti-terror campaign led by then-President George W. Bush.

The 2001 invasion targeted al-Qaida and its Taliban allies shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

Victory in Afghanistan seemed to come quickly. Kabul fell within weeks, and the hardline Taliban regime was toppled with few U.S. casualties.

But the Bush administration’s shift toward war with Iraq left the Western powers without enough resources on the ground, so by 2006 the Taliban had regrouped into a serious military threat.

Obama deployed more troops to Afghanistan, and casualties increased sharply in the last several years. But the American public grew weary of having its military in a perpetual state of conflict, especially after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq at the end of last year. That war, which began with a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, cost the lives of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops, more than twice as many as have died in Afghanistan so far.

Although Obama has pledged that most U.S. combat troops will leave by the end of 2014, American, NATO and allied troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a rate of one a day.

Even with 33,000 American troops back home, the U.S.-led coalition will still have 108,000 troops — including 68,000 from the U.S. — fighting in Afghanistan at the end of this year. Many of those will be training the Afghan National Security Forces that are to replace them.

“There is a challenge for the administration,” O’Hanlon said, “to remind people in the face of such bad news why this campaign requires more perseverance.”

___

Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez in Kabul and researcher Monika Mathour in Washington contributed to this report.

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Your Infinite Potential

Posted by Admin on October 1, 2012

by Owen K Waters

Today, we are just beginning to appreciate the enormous scale of Creation. In the Middle Ages, most people worked the land. They rarely ventured far away from their place of birth, so their concept of the world was quite small. Likewise, their concept of God the Creator was small in scale. To them, God was an all-powerful, wise, elderly, human-like figure who lived somewhere above them.

People, at the time, didn’t realize the massive size of the planet upon which they stood. To them, most of their universe could be seen from the top of the nearest hill. Today, with cosmology and the Hubble telescope to help us, our view of the size of the universe has been stretched farther and farther.

What we have learned, since the Middle Ages, includes these realizations:

1. The Earth is not the center of the universe. Apparently, when this was discovered, it came as quite a shock.

2. The Earth is round. This was excellent news at the time: No more worrying that you might take to sea and row off the edge of the world!

3. The Earth travels around the Sun. This means that, while modern-day life on Earth may seem to be expensive at times, it does come with the added bonus, once a year, of a free trip around the Sun!

4. The Sun is over a million times bigger than the Earth.

5. There are 200 billion other suns in our own galaxy.

6. There are well over 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

7. As big as the universe is, in order for God to be everywhere, God has to be bigger still.

When you view God as Infinite Being, the All That Is, or the Absolute, you have a sense of scale that still encompasses all of Creation, no matter how far the universe stretches. The infinity of Infinite Being encompasses all of space. The Creator aspect of Infinite Being created all of space within its consciousness.

The question is, where does the individual fit into this enormous scale of Creation?

The deeper into your own consciousness you explore, the more you become aware that the All is One. That the infinite possibilities are all expressions of the One. Beneath all expression is just the One, and the One is Infinite Being.

In the ‘All is One’ ultimate reality, you are a viewpoint of the One. Nothing can be truly separate from the One. It can only be another facet of the One.

Regardless of how huge the universe is, you are fully connected to the Creator of the stars, the planets, and all of life. We are examples of the infinite variety which is Creation and each one of us is an essential part of the whole.

If it were somehow possible for you to disappear from the universe – and it isn’t – then Creation would be infinity minus one, and that is no longer infinity. You have always existed and, in whatever form that suits you at the time, you always will.

Because people are an expression of Infinite Being, the potential within each and every one of us is infinite. There are no limits to what you will become in your journey back to your original spiritual home. And, there need be no limits in the life that you are now living.

A world that encourages all of its people to develop their full potential will be more supportive, creative and productive. Everyone will benefit.

Just think of your true human potential this way;

Infinite Being, infinite potential.

This was an excerpt from Owen Waters’ book, Spirituality Made Simple.*

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