Posts tagged ‘darfur’

News is far overdue

First off, there has been a huge backlash against Facebook in the two days since they unveiled their new creepy stalker newsfeed. The group I linked to yesterday already has the membership of about 5% of all of Facebook (and that includes all the Chipotle Burritos, Case Dorms, and residents of Guttlesohn Falls that are signed up, too). This has even prompted many newspapers to take notice. It’s pretty cool to watch so many people actually stand up and protest for what they want.

Having said that, the big news today is that President Bush finally admitted to having a network of secret CIA prisons scattered around the world. I have posted about rumors of these before. It’s pretty discouraging to find that they were true, but slightly hopeful that enough people within the CIA and elsewhere in the government are beginning to stand up and say that this really should stop. edit: Bush went so far as to say that prisoners would be transferred to Guantanamo Bay and given rights from the Geneva Conventions.

Speaking of people getting fed up with unpopular polities, the Democrats tried to have a vote of no confidence on Donald Rumsfeld. It was blocked by Republicans, but at least they’re starting to fight back. For too long have the Democrats just rolled over and let the Republicans do whatever they want. I hope this is a sign of things to come. This comes in the wake of a very controversial speech by Rumsfeld, in which he drew parallels between terrorism today and fascism in the 1930’s, and then attacked Amnesty International (the first group to condemn the secret CIA prisons) for questioning the US. The government tried to censor news agencies that reported on this speech, but they have held strong on their articles.

It’s pretty cool to see everyone starting to wake up and fight back against all of this stuff!

On a less uplifting note, the truce in Darfur is being threatened. I apparently missed when this truce began; does anyone else remember hearing about thata few months ago? The problem here, like in Lebanon until recently (I’ll get to that soon) is that the UN has no actual power, and the countries that make up the UN are reluctant to contribute troops voluntarily (and China, Russia, and India are already arming the fighters).

Going back to less recent news, Europe has committed troops to keeping the peace in Lebanon and attempting to disarm Hezbollah. Both Israel and Hezbollah (and their benefactor, Iran) seem to be claiming victory here: Israel for getting the UN to pledge to try to disarm Hezbollah, and Hezbollah for firing so many rockets and killing so many civilians and not being completely destroyed (yet) in response. I am ever hopeful that the Middle East can settle down, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen until the UN gets a concrete plan to disarm Hezbollah (and then solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they’ve at least made a little headway here already).

Security guru and all-around awesome dude Bruce Schneier has a pretty rational look at the liquid explosives plot to blow up British airplanes bound for the US (which led to a US ban on liquids; special thanks to Natalie for the link). He mentions some very good points about the futility of our current strategy and how using more investigation and intelligence will work much better than our current strategy of banning everything and making everyone scared. Among other methods, he suggests that watching body language to find nervous, suspicious-acting characters is much more effective than banning liquids or shoes. This reminds me of a 2002 debacle in which airport security forced a woman to drink her own breast milk to “prove” that it was not a terrorist weapon. Although the current rules make exceptions for breast milk, medicine, and a couple other things, the entire situation is ridiculous.

Due to the UN’s hesitation on sanctioning Iran, the US is considering unilateral sanctions instead. Because, you know, unilateral sanctions have worked so well with Cuba. I suspect this is just empty talk, but it’s the sort of thing the Bush Administration is just crazy enough to try anyway.

Right. I think that’s about all the news I’ve been meaning to post. I can now close about 20 Firefox tabs.

Back in the midwest

Well, I’m now home in Minnesota. Research went OK. The last day was a lot of work though – Friday morning, we had a meeting to make sure that everything was ready and done. Then, Prof. Raugh decided to tell me that he had looked through my part of the report and had some changes for me to make. I spent all afternoon making changes, and getting the final copy ready. I put the entire thing in a .zip file (just over 3MB zipped – quite a large piece of work!), and I was about to mail it off! I decided to check my email just in case anything unusual had happened at the last minute, but forgot how to do that from the terminal room. So I skateboarded back to my room, and check my mail. Lo and behold, Sarah has also made some major changes to her part of the report, and could I add them to the final copy? Mind you, this was at 6:00. I was about to be done. So I save her changes and go back to the terminal room and put them in the final report, rezip the whole thing, and send it out. I also put a copy in the directory Claire made for this project so that we can all access it on the math computers. It’s now about 3.1 megs (we had a lot of changes, apparently!). I finish work up at 6:30. :-P But it’s now done.

It’s a little weird being back in Minnesota. Marc can now drive, and has a job lifeguarding. So he’s going to be taking the car a lot, I fear. He has also decided to put bumper stickers on the back. He got one of those stickers from WootWear, and one from the USA Fencing Organization. I don’t want my car covered in bumper stickers! Get those off there! Luckily, he hasn’t put the fencing one on there yet, and I’m hoping I can persuade him not to. hm…

Though my computer is at school, it is turned on and the SSH port is open, so I can continue to install programs on it while I’m here. This evening, I started building OpenOffice. We’ll see how that turns out. I also have a copy of Knoppix with me, and have been impressing my dad and brother with its little features (everyone is impressed with the “fuzzy” clock, and Marc really likes the ASCII movie player). Since I have X-forewarding turned on on my machine at school, I can also check my email from there. This is really nice, because I can continue to train the Bayesian spam filter, and keep all of my email in one place. Whee! :-D

In world news, the Darfur Conflict is finally getting some well-deserved attention. The New York Times (free registration required, or go to BugMeNot) has stuff on it here. It even made the local paper here (the Star Tribune), which barely has any news of import. I for one am glad that Darfur is finally getting some attention. I’ve been following the conflict for several weeks, and at first I was quite dismayed that the rest of the world didn’t seem to notice (though perhaps it merely appeared that way because I was living in the college bubble). Well, I just thought I’d try to increase awareness of the issue.

It’s late, so I’m now going to bed. Goodnight!