Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Another month comes to an end...

October of 2006 CE/AD has come to an end...

My copy of State of Denial (the new Bob Woodward book) still hasn't arrived. If you live outside of the US, consider yourself lucky; our governmental mail service (post) sucks. USPS probably turns many people mad... and they aren't even accountable. Actually, I saw that they were one of the lead sponsors for a recent World Series 2006 (which, in fact, is more like US Series) baseball game. Talk about a waste of taxpayer money, how does paying hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to have your logo seen by millions solve any of USPS's problems?

Another message for those who live in the States: vote on November 7. You want to spread all this talk about a united and democratic America? Make it so. Make an informed decision and vote — just do it. End of discussion.

Over the next six days, I will be tossing some info out — much of it raw and relatively un-opinionated — for prospective voters to at least be able to get some good info to make the right candidate choice. I will throw out the good and bad of each candidate, and say who I want to win and why, but expect any voter to make their own choice.

Much news on all fronts; from Reese Witherspoon to North Korea. I am a bit behind, but some good posts are coming soon!

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In Perspective

Calacanis' new ad fervour

Rebuke to Jason Calacanis' wanting to smother Wikipedia with advertisements. (See his post; I was the second person to comment on this now-hot post... just a little geek/ego moment.)

Not everyone is as commercial as you, Mr. Calacanis. Jimbo Wales has — over and over again — stated his view that Wikipedia will be ad-free as long as he is in charge. No matter how much it wracks the brain and nerves of you, me, and anyone else, he seems to have his mind made up. In addition, if AOL or anyone else were given special treatment of a button or leaderboard, that could strike a blow to Wikipedia's objectivity and already criticized editorial standards. You add adverts into the mix of objectivity and content questions for Wikipedia, then you won't be getting money from the ads because Wikipedia would be dismissed by critics, loose members and visitors, and just mirrored by some other foundation (GFL license).

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In Perspective

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Two poems: "Dreams of Reality" and "Judging"

The following are two free verse poems written by me earlier this month.

Dreams of Reality
We dream of what we see.
What we dream, we see.

My dreams are a perspective of life,
Shown through one (sleeping) mind unconscious.

They at times
Make no sense,
But are they supposed to?
They are dreams
And dreams are nearer to reality than nothing.
Maybe reality is just a dream anyway...

Who rates, rationalizes,
Decides whether things are right are wrong?
Trying to influence our actions and thoughts.

Is there some morel compass?
Some having one more powerful
Than others'?
Be them true or false in each individual's perceptions,
Who are these self-justified moral figures?
Who are they, you, me
To judge others' actions?
Are we justified
To even judge our own?

(As a reminder, all works on this blog are covered by a Creative Commons license for copying only by attribution, no altering, and only noncommercial uses. It is my personal stance that asking explicit permission to me is sufficient for use of any work I post, only if attribution is still granted to me.)

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In Perspective

'The Show' faces off with Rocketboom

"Rocketboom" gets 10-fold more downloads than "The Show with Ze Frank". Both are popular video podcasts (aka video blog, vlog, vodcast). Rocketboom's downloads/view numbers went up after it got some press over the leaving of its presenter, Amanda Cogdon.

In previous episodes, especially recently, Ze Frank has lightly attacked Rocketboom (if subtly). In an episode explaining his guide to video podcasting ("the ins and outs of video blogging"), Ze put his view on inflating (i.e. falsely making higher) your reported view/download numbers for any Web content in this way: "If you want to be popular, just go ahead and say you are. I call it Rocketbooming" ('[no relation to Rocketboom the popular video podcast]'). Ze Frank lends his opinion on what he calls "rocketbooming", falsely inflating numbers. This post comes in light of Ze coining the term recently in an episode of "The Show with Ze Frank", his popular video podcast. During the episode, Ze also showed his distain for Alexa's often questionable ratings (i.e. ranking and measuring of Web hits) for websites. In addition, there has been increased friction between Ze and the Rocketboom (whom the term is directed at) team.

Ze concluded his recent post on "rocketbooming" and the flaws in the site ranking and view measuring services with this:

Rocketboom might very well have more eyeballs than Ask A Ninja, Amanda Across America, or any of the currently popular video shows. But it's important to question not only what those numbers are and where they're coming from, but also whether the eyeballs these shows claim to have are even open.

Ze Frank's "The Show" is so much better on all levels than Rocketboom is or ever was. The Show is witty, informative, and fun; Rocketboom just seems to be an over-hyped video podcast about random things, which, while it may often be interesting, Ze Frank still kicks Andrew Baron and Joanne Colan's asses. The Show deals with offbeat things (as does Rocketboom), but also covers other current event-related issues and presents useful, or at least interesting, facts and commentary. Rocketboom often focuses on one thing (like an expo), or covers many tiny things with little, if any, perspective.

Too bad "the show" is — according to Ze — going to be stopped next spring! I watch both shows on my iPod every weeknight, but watch Rocketboom first (as to save the best, i.e. The Show, for last). I will make a list of some of my favourite podcasts and their ratings (in my opinion) soon; I get all my podcasts off of iTunes and put onto my iPod G5 ('iPod with video').

* The Show on Ze Frank's website
* Rocketboom

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In Perspective

Friday, 27 October 2006

Iraq violence and US elections; Rush Limbaugh's dumbness

Does the Pentagon honestly think people that are uneducated enough to commit suicide without thinking of the implications know that there are elections about to happen in the US or that their violence could do a thing to affect the elections? I guess so. This is the kind of naive, "war on terror", fear-mongoring rhetoric that can (well, should) only be expected from the White House and ultra-conservative pundits.

From the afore-linked article:

The Pentagon's chief spokesman has attributed the rising violence in Iraq to attempts by Al-Qaeda to influence the US elections and stir up opposition to President George W. Bush.

Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, stopped short of saying that Al-Qaeda wanted a Democratic victory in the November 7 elections and denied emphatically that he was implying that.
Well, at least it is not as bad as Rush Limbaugh's statement:
"...terrorists around the world, particularly those in Iraq, are voting Democrat today."
First of all, what? Since when can 'terrorists around the world' vote in US elections?

If you ever want a laugh at the stupidity of Limbaugh, check out his website; if you are not in the mood for a laugh and may be in the mood to be flustered by shear audacity that millions read and listen to (and believe), don't.

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In Perspective

National Review's guiding principles

From this Media Matters article.

Summary: National Review media writer Stephen Spruiell asserted that Keith Olbermann's "insistence on calling the president 'Mr. Bush' instead of 'President Bush' is his way of saying that Bush holds office illegitimately." Given that Spruiell purports to have determined why Olbermann refers to the president as "Mr. Bush," Media Matters for America wonders if he has determined why National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. also refers to the president in the same manner.

A lot of news orgs use 'Mr.' regardless of title. National Review needs to not be so closed minded and thinking everyone is against their ideology and the people they support — oh wait, that is against NR's narrow-minded beliefs...
Good point about Buckley (conservative/Neocon National Review's founder) and his use of "Mr. Bush" too. Well, I suppose blind contradiction of one's harshly stated opinions (i.e. what the writer of the NR article did) is also one of National Review's guiding principles.

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In Perspective

Thursday, 26 October 2006

A nuclear Iran; will academics suffer?

Punishing Iran's students and scholars for the government's nuclear research and development programme would just increase anti-US sentiment and the distaste of what many in the Middle East see as the Western 'imperialists'. Not a smart move by the UN Security Council (which Germany could, in all reason, be called a member in this matter... they have been as involved as any other UNSC nation) if this [part of the] draft resolution — which Russia seems to be against and France, joining the punishment bandwagon, for Iranian sanctions at this time — for Iranian punishment is passed.

See afore-linked websites for more information on the Iran nuke issue.

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In Perspective

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Counting down to US elections: 12 days

America will vote in the 2006 general elections in less than two weeks. Here is some assorted election-related news: (See the previous "counting down" post for some cool election links.)
Another link I would like to add to my list is BBC News' election coverage... a great feature.

Election update
Ever more voting machine troubles; John Zogby outlines some of the 2006 mid-term US elections to watch; will the Internet really do its part to help democracy?

See post on Iraq here.

Fox v. Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh ridicules actor Michael J. Fox's call for stem cell legislation in various political adverts and the actor's rallying for Democrats because of that issue (as does the family of the late "Superman", Christopher Reeve, as well as many other non-Hollywood people); Fox responds. There have also been suggestions by the American far right-wing that Fox faked his illness of Parkinson's disease. Read more about Limbaugh's ridiculousness in this post.

Political ads
GOP (and other) political advertisements (here is one): They are ads for a reason: to convince people of things from a perspecive positive to the advertisers (i.e. the RNC, Republican candidates) against their compitition (the Democrat opponents). People need to understand that before they jump to conclusions on the message of ads like Democrats raising taxes, etc. And the Dems need to make an ad in response about the deficit if they don't want to look like pussies even more.

Speaker reigned in
Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, has testified to an ethics committee on the Rep. Mark Foley matter and the apparent GOP coverup of it.

The North strikes back...
Not really related to the elections, but North Korea is back in the headlines (N. Korea situation wrap-up).

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In Perspective

North Korea, Iraq situations: an analysis (part 2)

See part 1 too.

As Iraq is getting worse for civilians, many Iraqi government officials, and foreign military, Americans may have to wait for a possibly very influential report, the Baker report (chaired by US Secretary of State James Baker), which may change the White House's strategy in Iraq.

There is hope that the Bush administration is finally seeing some of the reality of the dreadful Iraq situation and changing some of its views, as the president's political capital is almost in the red. More on civilian deaths here. Here is a previous post I had on American foreign policy.

I think a great exit strategy has been outlined by George McGovern and William Polk in their new book, Out of Iraq. I read an excerpt in a Harper's Magazine article; here is a post by a blogger named "paradox" (cross-published with the Daily Kos) on the article. As another Kos post states:

As George McGovern and William R. Polk cogently argue in the October issue of Harper's (subscription only), a withdrawal of troops (to be completed at the end of 2007) would not only save American lives but tens of billions of dollars.

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In Perspective

Commentary about things in the news (25 October 2006)

Regulation and rights
The people who don't want to regulate things like genetically and potentially dangerous modified food are the same people who want to invade our personal privacy and civil liberites under the guise of the Patriot Act and other invasive laws (as well as 'moral' regulation) impeding on the Internet and other tools of speech and expression. See some of my own consumer safety commentary.

Practice what you preach
If people say if peaceful, normal Muslims often remain quiet in condoning the violent Islamic fundamentalists (a small minority of Muslims) they are nearly as bad, I pose this:
The silence of civil liberty- and human rights-loving Americans is nearly as bad as the taking away of such rights by the government (e.g. indefinate detention without charge, warrantless wiretapping).

Also, some of these Islamophobics also should not generalize about followers of Islam. That is to say, not all Jews are spiteful of Muslims or fight for the land of other's that they occupy (not Israel itself, but the territories it invades/controls); not all Christians are as nuts as Pat Robertson and his gang, or think that President Bush is in contact with the divine. In fact, a small minority of Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in what their fundamentalist fellows do.

Sure, blame it on the newspapers...
And now, as if there weren't enough people attacking them, Madonna condones the international news media on the covering of her adoption of a boy from Malawi (FYI, that's in Africa).

She does realize she is attracting great attention from the media by making these kinds of statements, right?

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In Perspective

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Anything is possible...

You know the saying 'anything is possible'?

Gotta love the spin doctor rhetoric and point-dodging that this administration has exacted! "Mission accomplished" has turned into mission 'still possible'.

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In Perspective

Music players a scapegoat for deafness by stupidity?

Here is yet another article on iPods and hearing loss. Listening to too many loud rock concerts, having the TV on too loud, or listening to a number of music devices including the iPod can all have negative affects on hearing. I wonder why it always has to be iPods being targeted... it can be almost any sound device with the capacity to cause ear damage! Especially those with headphones (duh). Suing Apple for hearing loss is worse than suing McDonald's for weight gain. To stick with that example, McDonald's has — any reasonable person can admit — unhealthy food and markets much of it as being healthy, false advertising and misleading; Apple does not market people listing to iPods all day on high volumes nor does it promote listing to audio too loud. Apple has made statements about listening too loud (even if in the fine print) and has released a volume limit iPod software update earlier this year. McDonald's, on the other hand, would hurt themselves by advertising their potential or actual customers about the nature of their food — even the FDA and other governmental administrations cannot do that (largely from the food industry's mass lobbying effects on politicians). Lastly, unlike with food people know how loud their music is (I mean, they are hearing it!), whereas if I eat a burger, I may be one of the many who have know knowledge and have a hard time accessing and acquiring such knowledge on what I am eating, what it contains, and how it may affect me. No sane person could say that the didn't know that listing to music insanely bad is not their choice and a factor under their control for they are experiencing its negative affects; but some can say that they did not know eating that extra order of super-sized French frys was bad for them. Without prior knowledge, they may not know those fry's negative effects until they are already in a not-so-good physical state. There is a difference between consumer safety for those who are ignorant (fast food example) and those who are just dumb ('you mean listing to my iPod on max volume is bad for me?'). It's consumer safety versus consumer stupidity. Gun control and health/advert requirements (i.e. no totally misleading food porno) for food vendors I understand and support (especially the former), but iPod control? Come on... that's like blaming your stove for burning you when you touch the flame (voluntarily) — you sense it and know it is bad from what you feel.

Good article though.

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In Perspective

Monday, 23 October 2006

Fox News and Rush Limbaugh's further insanity

Fox News: picking on everyone but themselves and their puppet masters;
Rush Limbaugh: attacking feasibility of rule by more than one party.

Let's hope the naughty socialist Democrats won't win Congress, Fox News says. This comes after Sean Hannity said for Democrat voters to 'stay home for the sake of the nation'. And these are the guys claiming to support democracy? One party rule is not democracy, needless to say. Rush Limbaugh has also stated that 'terrorists vote Democrat' or the like... nothing new there either — just rhetoric by a guy hiked up on Viagra who either does not use his brain, lacks the ability to think about abstract ideals (politics, religion), or is payed large amounts of money by super-conservative partisan topguns. Most likely all of the above. Much of this ever-incrasing mindless and polarizing, dirty rhetoric is coming when Republicans are freaking out more about the Iraq war. Of course, they can always blame the media coverage of Foley, Iraq, Katrina, and many other negative-looking things the GOP has gotten itself wrapped up into on the 'liberal' (but not so) news media and the bloggers like me. We're just doing our jobs; doing what is meant do be done in a so called democracy!

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In Perspective

Coincidences, some reading material, Obama, ...

No coincidence, of course, that the Huffington Post has an 'exclusive' with anti-religion scientist Richard Dawkins right next to alternative medicine writer Deepak Chopra an article slanted pro-religion...
Just thought I'd point that out, not to surprising or unprecedented... just coincidental.

For those who want current event reading material, there is a good NYT article here on N. Korean nationalism (including its history) and the always-interesting-to-me Slate political Zeitgeist Checklist, which contains links if you really want to read more of 'what Washington is talking about'.

For those interested in Apple or business and technology news, this article on Apple head honcho Steve Job's meticulous influence on the iPod may be your thing. Economics or sociological statistics your thing? This Time magazine feature called "America by the numbers" might spark your interest (if you are really that interested, look at the tons of polls and polling data here).

Making major headlines and buzz in the blogosphere: the potential run for US president by Sen. Obama (D-IL). Is the Obama [news/political] craze of a couple years ago coming back?

And there might yet be some progress in American policy regarding Iraq.

I should be getting the State of Denial book tomorrow [afternoon] or the next day. I will try to pump out one or two more North Korea and/or Iraq analyses in the mean time. Speaking of anyalsis and, touching on this blog's core (perspective), this CJR Daily article is interesting; an overview the media coverage of the North Korean situation.

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In Perspective

Sunday, 22 October 2006

North Korea, Iraq situations: an analysis (part 1)

North Korea problem, conflict in Iraq: an analysis.
Part 1 of ?

With the Rep. Mark Foley scandal in the US and the North Korea nuclear issue internationally (as well as Madonna's adoption... don't get me started on that one), the struggle in Iraq has been greatly overshadowed in recent weeks. No worries! The record violence — still growing in veracity and frequency — has yet to subside. In addition, Iraq has been given a boost in the news headlines thanks to policy changes (or lack of changes) and statements coming from the White House and, on a smaller (in number of changes/statements and significance) note, Downing Street. A whole spew of talk coming from generals, politicians, spin doctors, advisors, and journalists themselves has been released onto the river of news stories (current events, if you will).

In this series of posts on both the problem of North Korean nukes and of Iraq in general, I will do my best to analyze the situations in North Korea and Iraq, focussing mostly on the latter since I have already given much attention to the former. The strife in Iraq, unlike the situation N. Korea, is more deadly, regionally destabilizing, problematic for Iraq and the parties involved or bordering the nation, a calling point for cultural (i.e. Islamic) extremists and terrorist organizations, and an international problem; North Korea is largely an international and regional problem. Both the situation in North Korea and in Iraq have major ties in three ways: international relations, US foreign policy, and the 'axis of evil' link — including [regional strife inciting] international destabilization.

Since, as I mentioned earlier, I have focused so much on the North Korean issue I intend to have this series of pieces largely be on Iraq. They will deal largely with the current state of both situations, but also give background to why the current state of affairs exists.

Parts 2 and 3 will be coming in the next several days.
Check Google News for the latest news and subscribe to In Perspective's enhanced (Feedburner) RSS feed here.

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In Perspective

Profiling NK leader Kim Jong-il...

So you want to know more about Kim Jong-il?

Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il.
From Wikipedia

Hankering to learn more about reclusive and nuke-holding North Korea's short and odd haired dictator? Well, you're in luck! Not only is there the usual stuff, Wikipedia and BBC News as well as GlobalSecurity.org but also this US News and World Report article giving us 10 fun facts about Kim.

I think I found a partial explanation for his odd hair and lack of height (from the US News article):
He sleeps only four hours per day.
Hey, you have to give him some credit for that!

Back to the more pressing issues in the news. Analyses of the situations in North Korea and Iraq are coming soon (today or tomorrow); here are some previous posts on the N. Korean issue: HERE and HERE and here and here.

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In Perspective

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Ellsberg article now available in full

The October 2006 Harper's Magazine article, The Next War, I had a POST on a while back is now available (in full, as far as I can tell) on Harper's website. It is an article by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg on leaking of war plans (he leaked Vietnam plans, and is calling on others to leak possible Iran war plans); see the aforementioned post for what it is about.

Also, I have ordered the Bob Woodward book, State of Denial (Bush at War, Part III), and should be getting it in a few days. I am excited to start reading it and will be blogging about relevant finds I make in the book as I read it.

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Friday, 20 October 2006

Show some respect for democracy and the loss of the Great Writ

At least show some respect for democracy, thich you allegedly believe in, Mr. O'Reilly.
See THIS POST for background on the overthrow of habease corpus and the rights it brings in America; how the Great Writ was effectively nulled my the Military Commissions Act of 2006 thanks to both parties in Congress and President Bush. This is a serious issue, and I am not just venting political steam on it... this is serious.

At least show some respect for democracy, thich you allegedly believe in, Mr. O'Reilly. Apparently ultra-conservatives such as TV personality and super-conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly do not even think to mourn (or scorn) the loss of a law embedded in democracy, recently stricken down by Bush and others: habeas corpus (the Great Writ). You cannot even speak of democracy without that protection from unfair and inhuman (certainly un-democratic too) arrest and detention. All of this is being rhetoricized and fought in the name of the "war on terror", terrorists want to take away our democracy, right? I guess Bush and co. are doing a hell of a job at beating them to the punch!

Apparently Bill O'Reilly does not care at all about the democracy he allegedly loves. He has trashed and supporting the nulling of one of the major laws/acts in governmental history (the writ of habeas corpus). Like many of his chums on Capital Hill and Fox news, O'Reilly has been again shown as a fraud.

Stop screwing what we have left of this nation's dignity, reputation, and freedom!

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Wednesday, 18 October 2006

RIP habeas corpus act in the US (c. 1679 to 2006); song in memory

See THIS POST and this one too for more on this topic.

News flash: the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was just passed. Say bye bye to the writ of habeas corpus (news search)!* The age old guarantee of a fair, free trial and imprisonment and rule of law is now history. Who knows what Orwellian vision this could bring for the US. Big Brother can listen to you without warrant then detain you without trial or with a trial rigged to find you guilty... no matter what the international community says. How does the US government expect to gain any friends — or not gain enemies — if it continues this rampage against human rights? Goddamn hypocrisy, that's what it is! To think this law has been passed in the "war on terror" — a mission by Bush and others to spread democracy and preserve it from people who want to take it away. Well, that's exactly what Bush and co. are doing... taking democracy away and glorifying torture and invading civil liberties!

A song I just wrote in memorium of habeas corpus in the United States. To be sung to the tune of "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John:

Goodbye habeas corpus,
though I never knew you at all
you had the strength to guarantee fair trials
no matter what...

You crawled out of British law
and you were entered,
by name,
into democratic history
and never had shame...

And it seems to me
you lived your life
like a candle burning strong,
never waning when the King
fought you off...
(tried to blow you out).

And I would have liked to know you
but I have never been imprisoned,
your candle of freedom burned out long before
your legend ever will...

Goodbye habeas corpus
thanks to those bigwigs in Washington
you cease to protect
the very people in need...

Goodbye habeas corpus,
though I never needed you know
there still are plenty
who dooo....

* For more see recent Slate articles on "habeas corpus", a Google search on the same thing, and a Google News search too. And, of course, see all the links above.

From NYT:

President Bush signed legislation today that created new rules for prosecuting and interrogating terror suspects, a move that Mr. Bush said would enable the Central Intelligence Agency to resume a once-secret program to question the most dangerous terrorists.

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Direct current NK nuke problem blame towards China?

This post makes references to the North Korean nuclear situation, prior blog posts on this issue can be found HERE, here, and here.

This Slate piece is a bit one sided, quite self-serving and possibly isolationist, and puts the international blame game into play. Doesn't the author recognize that China is basically North Korea's lifeline, shutting down food supplies would hurt the people the most (which Kim Jong-il has been shown to not care about too much) as well as cause chaos politically, militarily, and from a humanitarian standpoint for Russia, China, and South Korea.

Not only is the article saying that China should effectively collapse North Korea, but it goes further:

I am, of course, playing devil's advocate here: I realize that the United States has long-standing obligations to Japan and that our half-century-plus presence on the Korean Peninsula has placed us at the center of this discussion.
What about the global powers' obligation to stability? What about North Korea's neighbours having the right to make decisions about their regional interests, along with the global discourse (which includes the US, obviously) over the North Korean problem? This article seems to have a bit of 'they need our help, let's not care about who suffers from a nation's collapse... we need to focus on the issue at hand' kind of mentality that brought down the eon-long imperialistic European hegemony and is causing much dismay for the United States in Iraq. (Although, I might add, I doubt the author intended it to give off that kind of tone and message.)

Possibly the most ludicrous part of the article is:
Or, to make things even quicker and simpler, China could deploy the same tactic that once upon a time led to the collapse of East Germany: Instead of closing the 800-mile Chinese-North Korean border to goods, the Chinese could open it to people.
The mass influx of people if North Korea were to collapse is one of the things China is hesitant about! That is one of the reasons they are not shutting off supplies and giving North Koreans an incentive to come to China (even fewer food and essential supplies) plus opening the gates wide would make the problem — and source of some of China's apprehension — so much larger.

Just as you think the article is getting a bit more worldly, this comes along:
China also is ... one of the countries most under threat from North Korean nukes. After all, it is China, not the United States, that will be at the center of the new Asian arms race if Japan and South Korea feel compelled to get the bomb. ... Although it isn't clear whether North Korean missiles can reach Hawaii, it's obvious that Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong are well within range. So, shouldn't this be China's problem, not ours?
The moment President Bush called North Korea 'evil' ("axis of evil") and many were starting to lean towards possible changes in North Korea's governance was the moment leader Kim had a huge excuse for testing. So shouldn't this be the region and international community's problem, not just China's of the United States'? No matter what China or others do, the US government is always asking for more, when will enough be enough?

The piece's author, Anne Applebaum, is a writer I admire. However, her latest piece is not well thought out and — if she did think it out — she needs to work on her logic in the delicate sphere of international politics, governmental and regional stability, and foreign relations.

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Fun Facts 2: Some good quotes...

Fun Facts 2 (see FF 1 too): The following is a collection of some of my favourite quotations, some known better than others:

"Knowledge is power." - Sir Francis Bacon

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

"There's such thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown." - Michael Scott (The Office: Season 3, Episode 4)

"Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." - John Stuart Mill

"Maybe this judge thinks smoking gun is a famous Indian chief." - Det, Lennie Briscoe (Law & Order)

"Truth is not always popular, but it is always
right." - Unknown

"Civilization degrades the many to exalt the few." - Amos Bronson Alcott

"The 'war on terrorism' is like a war on dandruff... it's metaphorical." - Gore Vidal

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." - Sir Winston Churchill

"A closed mind is a good thing to lose." - Anonymous

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself." - Walt Whitman

"A free society is a place where it's safe to be
unpopular." - Adlai Stevenson

"Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so." - John Stuart Mill

"I'm the decider." - Pres. George W. Bush

"All men by nature desire knowledge." - Aristotle

"Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form." - Karl Marx

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." - Pres. John F. Kennedy

"Nothing is impossible." - Unknown

* Many more good quotes can be found by doing a Google search.

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Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Foreign policy of death and destruction...

Further reading on Iraq body counts: HERE and HERE. Some on WAR PLAN LEAKS, and Bush ATTACKING HIS CRITICS. Lastly, more political commentary in THIS POST.

I do not think American foreign policy has to be so militant. Whenever an issue crops up, our country is too impatient to fully work out the issue diplomatically. The US government jump on the little, unverified intelligence (yet the President attacks the news media when they use verified but not sure evidence for a report... unless it is in favour of the administration) we have and set up a war plan. In fact, they plan for the leap even before a speck of good evidence if found. This has not only been the case in Iraq, but in other conflicts as well.

I do not feel that civilians should die and suffer because our nation feels the need to but in on issues that, with time, would probably work themselves out. We also tend to ignore the people who criticize and differ from our opinions, labeling them as cowards or, if they are in our country, as unpatriotic. When military conflicts begin, we tend to not have a good roadmap and spread disinformation to the public about what is really going on, blinding most of them further.

Another issue is the hypocrisy of our foreign policy. We recognize some questionable nations, but not others (that may be less questionable), we want to let some of the worst human rights abuses fly in Saudi Arabia, yet we criticize countries like Iran, even though they have less abuses and a more democratic (although not democratic enough) government than Saudi Arabia. This is because we have a mutual, cushy friendly situation with the Saudis, so we shun other nations? I see it is alright to have our best interest in mind when representing ourselves on a national and intra-national scale, but on an international [global] scale, where we are the sole developed superpower, picking favorites regardless of others tarnishes our image and policies further. No world leading country (especially one that is arrogant enough to proclaim itself the "leader of the free world") should be so condescending and double standard ridden in their power-play foreign policy.

I believe our internal system of government needs a make-over, but our military and foreign policy are things that just need better decision-making, and better decision-makers. The government and the majority of the public show apathy to civilians killed in the countries we exploit or take over on a false premises. There is no death toll made by the US government of Iraqi civilians killed, so volunteers, reporters, NGOs, and regular people are having to try to do a civilian body count (which, even when presented to this administration, the count is shunned), which the government disputes and the military tries to stop. Whenever the media does thoughtful, often factual critiques or publishes information not troubling US security but information problematic to this President, they are bashed in a sea of rhetoric. The same people who preach democracy fight it. I just hope that we can get our policies right before the Iran and North Korea nuclear issues escalate further.

Why is America's foreign policy so messed up? Remember, what Americans do and who they vote for can influence millions outside US borders... if you are a US citizen, vote for the candidate who can make positive change this November!

* Here is a link to one of many good, non-partisan sites on US foreign policy.

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Monday, 16 October 2006

'Terrorist' lawyer sentenced for helping 'terrorist' client

You know something is a bit odd when a lawyer of an alleged terrorist gets 28 months in prison for note-passing (as a notice, I am only pointing out the merits of the defendant's in this case, I don't really have two strong of an opinion and take things case by case; in this case I think the prosecution is using propaganda and fear-mongering and going a bit over the edge with that). Oh, did I mention that the 'terrorist' defendant was blind?

The man (and, to a certain extent, his lawyer) is labeled automatically as a terrorist by this and other news reports, in which case they should no longer, like with John Mark Karr, wait for full verdicts and even though the verdict had already been given, how can you automatically label someone a "terrorist"? (see CNN article) What classifies "terrorism"? She was sentenced on a terrorism charge, different from her client's charge. The more conservative-leaning, pop culture ridden new American news media seems to hype up charges before there is substance, and are more and more failing to point out what the free press is supposed: an objective, as close to all-around view as you can get while still keeping some perspective and wit to inform (and, with the latter, captivate) the reader.

I doubt President Bush and other religious right politicians would condemn the domestic terror-mongering of anti-African American, anti-Latino, or anti-non-Evangelical Christian (i.e. white, male, hotheaded Southern Christians, but not always Southern nowadays) groups.

I forgot to mention that this lawyer, named Lynne Stewart (a female, as you can guess by the name), is a fearless civil rights lawyer who defended people like anti-war activists in the days when they were silenced — often by force (e.g. Sen. McCarthy, FBI head Hoover).

As is found in this AP article:

Stewart, 67, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, smiled as the judge announced his decision to send her to prison for less than 2 1/2 years. She had faced up to 30 years in prison.

"If you send her to prison, she's going to die. It's as simple as that," defense lawyer Elizabeth Fink had told the judge before the sentence was pronounced.

Hell, maybe I am even a 'terrorist' for defending the 'terrorist' lawyer who did the same for her "terrorist" client!
This is all starting to seem just a bit Orwellian.

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