Iran now claims to have launched a rocket into space, although other countries have yet to confirm the achievement. President Ahmadinejad says this is for peaceful satellite launches, but as always, Europe and America don’t believe him. Moreover, Iran has not halted its nuclear programme in spite of the sanctions imposed by the UN in December. The UN security council is convening with Germany about what to do on this front. Many western countries, chief among them the US, are still of the opinion that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, despite the Iranians claims of merely having a peaceful energy programme (to which they’re entitled, having signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970). Moreover, UN inspectors have been allowed to examine Iran’s operations since 1992 and have found absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. As Ahmadinejad has said, it’s time for the West to stop “bullying” Iran into giving up what it is rightfully entitled to.
Posts tagged ‘un’
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.
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.
Hezbollah and Israel are still firing rockets/missiles at each other. The Arab world has called on Israel to restrain itself, though the United States appears to support the Israeli retribution. This could very well turn into a fairly significant war, since the official Lebanon government still seems to be doing nothing about the conflict.
In the meantime, the UN Security council has unanimously voted to impose sanctions against North Korea forbidding any country from importing or exporting missile-related materials into/out of the country. To be perfectly honest, this is a pleasant surprise for me; I expected the UN’s response to be much more ambiguous. This should send a strong message to Korea.
Here’s some more good news: Pepsi, when offered a chance to buy Coke’s trade secrets, did the right thing and notified both Coke and the FBI. Three suspects have been arrested. This puts Pepsi on my short list of “good” companies, along with Google, CostCo, and DEKA (who make the Segway, a home dialysis system, lots of other great products, and major supporter of FIRST).
There was a terrorist strike on the Mumbai train system reminiscent of the London and Madrid bombings. Several hundred people are injured/killed. I hope Rishad and his family are alright (edit: they’re fine, though his cousin got off one of the trains 10 minutes before the bombs went off. Scary!), though it’s statistically likely that they’re alright: there are 19 million people in Mumbai, and around 500 were in the bombings. No one is certain who did this yet or what their reasons were. I suspect this is going to be really big news.
Congress has begun debating tribunal systems for Guantanamo inmates. It sounds like very little has been accomplished so far, but at least it’s starting.
Finally, the UN may be gearing up for sanctions against Iran for dragging its feet about the nuclear fuel compromise it has been offered. I suspect that sanctions will be imposed but ineffectual (when was the last time that sanctions actually brought about the intended changes to countries?), and eventually either Iran will become a nuclear power or someone will invade the country and find that, like in Iraq, no nuclear weapons program exists. My bet is on the second option, but we shall see. I liked Scott Adams’ take on this whole issue:
I’ll discuss this more soon, but I’m going to bed now.
The UN is getting pretty upset with all of the USA’s torture and human rights violations. There have been many complaints over the years, but this one is pretty serious. However, I can’t think of a way to easily resolve this sort of thing. The reasonable people of the world say that this violates US law, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture treaty, etc. However, the people in charge of Guantanamo Bay and other US international prisons disagree and do not intend to change their ways. Is there any course of action to stop them outside of war/revolution/assassination? To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing the UN can do besides whine a bunch, and there’s nothing the US citizens can do besides protest a lot. This administration has already shown that it will not listen to either of the above methods of lobbying. Any thoughts on what else we can do?