Posts tagged ‘us’

a lot of bad news

The big thing around here is that UCLA Police tasered a student for refusing to show his ID or leave the library. This was caught on camera and can be found on YouTube, though I should post a WARNING: THIS VIDEO IS VERY DISTRUBING, AND WATCHING IT MADE ME PHYSICALLY SICK. If you are still interested, here is the video. The UCLA administration has ordered an independent investigation into the matter, while the student has hired a civil rights attorney and filed a lawsuit for brutal excessive force.

In other news, the US has decided to trade nuclear technology with India. I think this is an absolutely horrible move on many different fronts. India has not signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and may very well restart its arms race and standoff with Pakistan. Part of the fuel sent to India will be used in civilian reactors, but part is also reserved for military applications that the UN will not be allowed to examine. Finally, this gives the US even less bargaining power to get Iran to stop its neclear programme (which I am given to understand is completely non-weapons oriented; they seem to be pursuing only energy). I got to see Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq (who resigned because he was convinced they didn’t have WMDs when the politicians kept saying they did), a couple weeks ago, and he said at the time that as soon as the election was over, Bush was going to start pushing the Iran nuclear weapons thing again (which has already started: the US navy has begun moving troops into the Persian Gulf). Ritter, as a former weapons inspector, has pored over the reports of the current weapons inspectors in Iran, and is confident that they have done a good, solid job but have found absolutely no evidence whatsoever of a nuclear weapons programme in the country. I’ve gone off on a tangent, but the main idea is that the US is trying to lie about Iran, and their actions with India are only undermining their position further.

Finally, the scariest news for today: the Military Commissions Act was signed into law today. Among other things, it allows people, even US citizens, to be detained and tortured (by the definition in the Geneva Conventions) without ever being charged or told why they are being held, at the sole discretion of the president. The scariest part about this is that if there are abuses, there is absolutely no way they will ever be disclosed or appealed. If you are wrongfully imprisoned by this law, you will never be given access to a lawyer, you will never be allowed to challenge the legality of your detainment, and you will never be heard from again. I feel very frustrated that the majority of Congresspeople were in favour of this. Due to laws like this, combined with the Real ID Act of 2005 (which requires a National ID card to be carried by everyone starting in 2008, and which was introduced by civil liberties foe Jim Sensenbrenner), it seems that our country has become alarmingly protofascist. It’s really scary stuff.

UN vs. American torture

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?

Consequences of the USA being a “role model”

See what happens when the US advocates a policy of pre-emptive strikes? Now, Binyamin Netanyahu is advocating a pre-emptive strike against Iran if they haven’t been dissuaded to stop their nuclear reserach in a couple months. Although he is no longer prime minister of the country, he was back in 1996, and I think it likely that he could get elected again if he really wants to. His opinion carries a lot of weight in the Israeli government.

Right. I have to get back to Algorithms grading, so I can then get back to PerCog, so I can then get back to grad school apps, so I can get back to clinic, so I can get back to ACM, so… fuck. No sleep for Alan again.

With Liberty and Justice For All?

It’s now all but official. The government can detain people indefinitely, without charging them, without giving them a trial, even if they are an American citizen arrested in America. Ironically enough, today China agreed to improve its human rights record.

Can anyone explain Iran?

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency released an independent report stating that Iran was not, in fact, developing nuclear weapons. This report corroborates almost everything Iran has said about its nuclear programme since 2003. However, the US is claiming that the report is wrong, and Iran is developing nuclear weapons, even though I haven’t seen a shred of evidence for it. Iran is now engaging in talks with the IAEA about their nuclear facilities at Isfahan, and everyone seems to hope that Iran will stop its nuclear programme. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, every country, including Iran, has a right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes (see Article IV). And yet, no one seems to want them to do this.

I could understand this anxiety if Iran had recently been trying to be an aggressive, dangerous country, but try as I might, I can’t seem to dig up anything that bad on them. Certainly, they’re not a shining utopia. But still, they don’t seem that bad. When the current government came to power in 1979, they took a bunch of Americans hostage for a year, but that was because the United States was initiating a covert CIA project called Operation Ajax to stop that same revolution and keep the Shah in power. I’d say this is mean, but justifiable. When another country is having a revolution, don’t go sticking your nose in their business, or else you might get in trouble. For several years after that, Irani gunboats shot at US warships, partly because the US was violating their waterspace (is that a word?). In response, we shot down their civilian aircraft (though we later apologized). Again, this isn’t particularly great, but I can understand why Iran might want to shoot at the ships in their waters, especially after Iran Air flight 655. During the 1980’s, Iran was an ally, albeit an unpopular one, in the Iran/Contra scandal (they don’t like Israel and had some Israeli hostages, but the US was the country doing all the illegal things). Again, they were an ally in the Gulf War.

I honestly can’t find anything particularly aggressive or bad that Iran has done since the current government came to power. The only thing I don’t like is that they seem to hate Israel, but even that is justifiable (after all, Israel can be considered an unjust occupation of a Palestinian state). Why are the US and EU so distrustful of Iran that they are trying, against all evidence, to keep Iran from exercising what everyone acknowledges is an inalienable right to peaceful nuclear power? Any insight is welcome.