The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: International (page 2 of 3)

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 Salesforce.com’s AppExchange – How to build your own hosted application to sell to Salesforce.com 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?!? 🙂

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.

Just as long as they aren’t ninjas…

Should we treat terrorists as pirates?

What is needed now is a framework for an international crime of terrorism. The framework should be incorporated into the U.N. Convention on Terrorism and should call for including the crime in domestic criminal law and perhaps the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. This framework must recognize the unique threat that terrorists pose to nation-states, yet not grant them the legitimacy accorded to belligerent states. It must provide the foundation for a law that criminalizes not only terrorist acts but membership in a terrorist organization. It must define methods of punishment.

Coming up with such a framework would perhaps seem impossible, except that one already exists. Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.

Doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but I wonder what would actually change? Piracy was used as a strategic tool by states, which then united against pirates when their activities came to be viewed as threatening common order and commerce in an intolerably uncontrollable fashion. That seems to me to be similar to the journey the world is taking right now in regards to terrorism. One dissimilarity is that pirates committed many of their crimes in a commonly held geographic area. However, the idea of “lawless places” where pirates dwell and can be hunted down legally seems to be a common thread in our current actions.

Link courtesy of Bruce Schneier

This Week in the DPRK

North Korea has a way with press releases, and the NK News site makes sure we all get to share. Some recent samples:

I have a personal favorite from this collection, though:

U.S., Provoker of “Panmunjom Incident”

At the end of such provocations, they mobilized 14 hooligans at around 10:45 on August 18 to cut a tree standing in the Panmunjom Joint Security Area without any agreement with the other side. When the security personnel of the DPRK demanded stoppage of the rude act, the hooligans pounced upon and made a collective assault on them, wielding lethal tools.

War in Iran?

Well, congratulations, Bush Administration. You’ve officially made it to the point where the first question in a press conference, from veteran reporter Helen Thomas, was “Is the U.S. going to attack Iran?” Continue reading

North Korean Press Releases

It was a good day for politics and furniture in the Democratic People’s Republic:

Courtesy of NK News

CIA Director respects sovereign states

Let’s say you’re CIA Director Porter Goss, and you give an interview claiming that you have an “excellent idea” where Osama bin Laden is hiding. However, you then claim that America’s sense of “fair play” concerning state sovereignty is an issue when it comes to actually capturing him.

So, how does that work, exactly? Saddam Hussein was such a great threat to the U.S. from 2001 on that we invaded Iraq and are still occupying the country with a sizable portion of our military, but the person who actually ordered the last major attack on our country is safe because of our respect for the nation-state system?

(And, if we have such respect for that system, why does the CIA exist? Are we laying off the spies?)

Well, at least the interview gave me a pretty good idea of the location of Osama bin Laden’s sanctuary. It would have to be in a country where, no matter what, we wouldn’t actively pursue a international terrorist due to our sense of realpolitik and fear of disruption. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, bin Laden is apparently hiding in the Cold War-era Soviet Union.

John Bolton: Failing his way up?

Yep, this may be our next Ambassador to the United Nations. If the lack of preparation or basic interest in diplomacy indicated in this article is true, then why is John Bolton even still employed, much less getting promoted?

Link courtesy of Obsidian Wings

Update: That darned Democrat Voinovich on Bolton. 😉

“…they know that he was something great.”

Capt. Mbaye Diagne, Senegal, United Nations: He gave his life that others might live.

Link courtesy of Obsidian Wings

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