Things are at least beginning to change a little in American politics. The Democrats, since taking over the legislative branch of the government earlier this month, have already started passing ethics legislation to try to curb the problems Washington has been having with lobbyists. This is part of their larger plan to make changes now that they’re in power. We’ll see how far these measures actually go, but it’s at least a start. In particular, I hope they actually create an independent investigative group for ethics violations; it seems like many ethics problems in Congress get brushed aside because the people involved are also the ones in charge of policing such actions. Time will tell.
As part of rethinking the Iraq policy, President Bush has begun rearranging the military staff, and is considering sending in 30,000 more troops to the country. I don’t think adding in more troops is a good move; I imagine it would be more demoralizing for Iraqi civilians and give the insurgents hope because they were able to thwart the 140,000 US troops already over there. However, from what I’ve heard from Anderson Cooper’s interviews of soldiers in Iraq, they really need more troops, or else the country will never get out of its current troubles. I’m becoming more and more convinced that there is no way to get Iraq into a better situation in the foreseeable future, and the “best” thing for everyone might just be to pull out and let it sink into civil war for a couple years. I know it sounds heavy-handed, but I still haven’t heard of a strategy that doesn’t eventually degenerate into that anyway.
On a related note, the US death toll in Iraq broke 3,000 over New Years. I realize it’s not much compared to the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed (or the conflict in Darfur, or the Falun Gong persecution in China, etc), but it’s still worth noting.
A bit of a rant: the LA Time’s article that I linked to discusses “next week’s announcement next week” that President Bush is expected to give. Don’t they have editors for these articles? They could at least have someone give a quick once-over to these things. Bah.
The United Nations voted to impose sactions against Iran regarding its nuclear programme, and President Ahmadinejad has (I believe rightly) called these sanctions illegitimate, citing the right of all countries, according to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970, to develop peaceful nuclear energy programmes. and as former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter describes in his book Target Iran, the current weapons inspectors in Iran right now can find absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. So, here’s what we’ve got from Iran at the moment: peaceful nuclear development, denial of the Holocaust, vows to destroy Israel, rejection of every trading package which would supply them with nuclear energy without developing it on their own (including Russia’s very generous offer), and now correctly calling the UN on their misguided sanctions. What on earth are they trying to accomplish? They have all the drawbacks of a real programme and an empty threat, without any of the advantages of either one. Any insight would be appreciated.
It seems that AT&T has given up on their anti-net neutrality stance, though I suspect the issue will flare up again in a year or so. Since the last time I discussed it, I have been convinced that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a really good stance on the issue: neither “side” on the issue is particularly meritorious (getting rid of net neutrality is obviously a bad thing, but getting the US government to examine and regulate most of the world’s internet traffic is a privacy problem waiting to happen). I don’t have a good solution to this yet, but I’ll keep watching the issue.
There has been a bunch of other news since I last posted, but this is starting to get pretty long. The condensed version: Saddam Hussein was executed, Bangkok experienced a series of explosions New Years Eve which injured/killed surprisingly few people, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is wanking that his $200,000 salary isn’t enough money, and Microsoft gave nice laptops to some bloggers hoping they would post good stuff about the company, but instead has received a backlash from other bloggers (who I think are mainly jealous that they didn’t get one). Right… I think that’s all the news for now.