The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: International (page 1 of 3)

President Obama on the death of Osama bin Laden

Full remarks here. This is an important quote:

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not ā€“- and never will be -ā€“ at war with Islam. Iā€™ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Ron Paul’s Questions on Wikileaks

In a speech on the House floor, Republican Representative Ron Paul of Texas asked nine questions in regards to the ongoing kerfuffle about Wikileaks:

Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?

Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?

Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?

Number 4: Are we getting our moneys worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?

Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?

Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?

Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

Courtesy of Mediaite.

President Bush and the Flying Shoes

To be honest, I’m kind of impressed. If it had been me, the first shoe would have hit me in the face, and the second shoe would hit me while I was wondering why someone was throwing shoes, yet he dodges them like he’s been dodging shoes all of his life.

Sorry, still no match

U.S. to fingerprint E.U. visitors:

Visitors from European nations traveling with visas or visa-free to the United States will soon have to give 10 digital fingerprints when entering the country, a senior U.S. Homeland Security official said Monday.

Let’s see, the last time I had my fingerprints taken by a digital scanner owned by the U.S. government, it took 30 minutes and continual rewetting of my fingertips because the system was having trouble matching the individual prints to a ten-print scan. Since that was in April, and the machine was fairly new and expensive, I doubt the technology used in the various points of entry has any reason to work much more consistently. I wonder how they plan on handling the extra delays?

Maybe we can work this into some kind of marketing slogan: “Europeans are lining up to get into the United States!”

Why not one more?

While I have little doubt Iran is probably arming groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m having trouble seeing these sorts of stories as being anything beyond the Bush Administration building a case for starting a war with yet another country.

Does the administration understand some simple, logical problems with this scenario?

  • Iran will react, and it probably has more capability to do so than Iraq did.
  • Iran is sitting next to two countries we’re having enough trouble occupying. What, do they figure an Iranian invasion will get people to love us?
  • Our military is overstretched and is particularly vulnerable in those two countries.
  • We can’t occupy yet another country. (I know, it would likely be bombing. How long does it stay an air war when the Iranian troops come over the border?)
  • Even if Arab countries don’t necessarily like Iran, they’re not going to support us fighting yet another Islamic country.
  • Finally, Administration, you do realize you’re going away in 1.5 years, right? This would be a bad mess to leave for the next one.

I really wish we hadn’t seen this before, but we have. I supported it with Afghanistan, and thought the administration had gone insane with Iraq. It starts with these statements, goes to the UN, and then we ignore whatever happens there and jump in. I’m wondering how long before we hear about the Al Qaeda/Iran link? Will “Al Qaeda” head to North Korea next? šŸ˜

Countries Mapped to States by GDP

This map renames the U.S. states with the name of the country that has a similar Gross Domestic Product.

Nice, we’re Sweden. šŸ™‚

Link courtesy of The Doc Searls Weblog.

Imperial History of the Middle East

5,000 years of history mapped in 90 seconds.

Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Little Time.

Random stuff from the past

When I run across interesting things to link from my blog, I usually send them to my Gmail account with the best intentions of blogging about them “when I get some time.” Well, that doesn’t happen as often as it should, so I’ll clear out a few items now:

5 Lamest Charlie Brown Cartoons – 10 Zen Monkeys covers the five worst Peanuts animated specials. I can’t agree with the inclusion of Snoopy, Come Home, though. Link courtesy of TV Squad.

The Last Panel – A dedicated fan adds the all-important last panel to some For Better or For Worse comic strips. They finally become funny. Link courtesy of The Comics Curmudgeon.

Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala – Wikipedia creates reality. A take-off on the Encyclopedia Brown books I devoured as a kid. Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Little Time.

Ancient Crash, Epic Wave – Did a comet hit the Earth 4,800 years ago?

PHP Eats Rails for Breakfast – Is tracking new lines of code the best way to compare the relative popularity of two languages? That assumes languages evolve to the same level of code complexity when addressing common problems. Might not be a bad assumption, but it would be nice to see some analysis of it. Link courtesy of O’Reilly Ruby blog.

Empires with Expiration Dates – Niall Ferguson examines the short shelf lives of modern empires. Empires are defined as largely political and military entities, with direct power. The question I have is whether global capitalism encourages indirect power, namely economic and cultural. Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

Myths of British ancestry – Who were the Celts…and does it matter? Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

synerG Web Site Design Competition – Deadline December 31, 2006.

An Introduction to’s AppExchange – How to build your own hosted application to sell to users.

Election Day 2006 – Whose Side is your Favorite Superhero on? – Dave’s Long Box predicts how superheroes would vote. The Hulk’s a Libertarian…he just wants to be left alone.

Twitter – There’s no way I’m using this, but I can see it being pretty interesting for a lot of folks. Kitta, for one.

Donald Rumsfeld is gone…

…there’s a Democratic majority in the House and Senate…

Who could have predicted such a thing?!? šŸ™‚

Seriously, when I — who grew up Republican and liked Reagan in the Eighties — think the best news I’ve heard all week is that the Democrats won and Rumsfeld is out…well, you know you probably aren’t energizing the base to come out and vote for your party.

I don’t expect too much of my government, I don’t think, but here’s what I hope happens the next two years that didn’t happen in the last six:

  • Our government doesn’t lie to us about the big things.
  • Bills are publicized and debated.
  • We admit to failed policies and past mistakes.
  • We try to fix those mistakes cautiously, trying not to screw things up any more than we have to.
  • We at least make a showing of not selling every vote.
  • And who knows…maybe we actually think about civil liberties.

Would that be too much?

This Week in North Korea

A selection of DPRK press releases, brought to us by NK News.

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