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Comment: Re:Russia: Doing Democracy Without a Condom (Score 1) 232

by wpi97 (#41436299) Attached to: Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court
Thank you for agreeing with my main point.

However, it was an anti-Putin slogan, or, rather, a prayer of sorts. The exact wording was "Mother of god, drive Putin away". Prosecuting this as a religious hate crime is ridiculous. At the very worst, this is disturbing the peace. At best, this is a legitimate political protest, given how corrupt the government and the church are in Russia.

During the trial the judge was quoting centuries-old rulings by church councils about proper conduct in a church. Cathedral security guards were called as witnesses to testify how insulted their religious sensibilities were. It was like reading reports from a medieval trial of a heretic by the Inquisition.

By the way, there was a case of somebody chanting political slogans in a cathedral in the UK. The man was tried in court and fined 16 pounds, IIRC, according to some blasphemy law from the 1600's. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to spend looking for that article.

Comment: Re:Russia: Doing Democracy Without a Condom (Score 5, Informative) 232

by wpi97 (#41417943) Attached to: Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court
Who did? Pussy Riot? The most they could have been charged with by anyone with a brain is disturbing the peace, which according to the Russian law is punishable by a 15-day detention. Instead they were charged with a religion-based hate crime, and given a very real 2-year prison sentence (my mistake, they got 2 years, the prosecutors were asking for 3). If you read the reports from their trial or from the trial of Khodorkovsky, you will be amazed at how ridiculous the chargers and the arguments of the prosecution are. Kafka could not have made it up. And Magnitsky's case in an a class by itself. I person was held without trial and killed in prison. The US congress is considering sanctions against Russian officials because of this case. There are countless examples of abuse of power by police and other officials happening in Russia every day. There have been cases when people have been run over by a government official or an official's family member, and it was the victims who were charged and prosecuted. If you care enough, read something besides /.

Comment: Re:Russia: Doing Democracy Without a Condom (Score 5, Informative) 232

by wpi97 (#41417429) Attached to: Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court
You and many other posters here are amazingly naive. With all its shortcomings, the US justice system is perfect compared to the Russian one. The members of the "Pussy Riot" group have just been sentenced to 3 years in prison for chanting an anti-Putin slogan in the main cathedral in Moscow. Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been convicted twice for completely ridiculous charges, and has been in prison for 9 years. Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for a British firm operating in Moscow, uncovered massive tax fraud by Russian officials. He was the arrested for... wait for it... tax fraud, held without trial for almost a year, and conveniently died just days before the 1-year limit for which he could be held without trial was due to expire. It is highly unlikely that he has died from natural causes. These are just the recent high-profile cases that are known internationally. Beyond those there is incredible corruption at all levels, and complete disregard of the rule of law by the police and other officials.

Comment: Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (Score 1) 271

by wpi97 (#40279653) Attached to: CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border
"Try driving in the US if you're black or hispanic. You will be treated quite differently than if you're white."

I have a friend who is black. He was a schoolkid when busing was introduced to integrate schools. He told me all about how he felt when he saw the protests against busing, where people held signs "N...s go home!". He never said anything about ever being harassed by traffic police, though.

I also remember what happened a couple of years back when an African-American Harvard professor was arrested by Cambridge police. As I recall, the president of the United States got involved, who, in case you have forgotten, is also African-American.

"If you disagree with this statement, then you're white." If you think that is a valid argument, you should not be reading slashdot.

"Also, don't talk about the day to day conditions of somewhere you've never been." I said I have never been to Moscow. However, I was born and raised in the USSR, so I do know a bit about the region. I also happen to know somebody who was stopped by police in St. Petersburg to "check his papers", taken to the station, and released after paying a bribe of $50. This was about 6 or 7 years ago. Oh, and I also know how to read, which means that I can learn about the day to day conditions of places where I have never been.

Comment: Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (Score 1) 271

by wpi97 (#40272189) Attached to: CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border
I have actually never been to Moscow. :) But I will give you a different prospective. I have lived in the US for over 20 years, and I have never been shaken down by the police. Nobody I know has ever been shaken down by the police. I never needed to get a fake license, and I never needed to figure out tricks to get the police to not extort bribes. The situation did not have to improve.

And speaking of migrant workers, there is actually a fierce debate here of whether the police even has the right to verify the immigration status of people they arrest. Think about it. In some states, the police may arrest a person for committing a crime, but they are not allowed to even ask if he has entered the country legally.

I am sure you know all the ways of dealing with the police in Russia or Ukraine. And maybe the police in Moscow behave better than they used to. But the point I am trying to make, is that this is not normal. You should not have to figure out ways to get the police to not extort money from you.

Comment: Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (Score 1) 271

by wpi97 (#40272103) Attached to: CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border

The difference is the US would probably be WORSE than Russia. We already execute people, take away the right to vote of the imprisoned (and even after make it difficult to regain those 'rights'), and execute/detain without trial people we don't like under various circumstances ('terrorists').

To say the US isn't doing what Russia is doing is non-sense. These excuses don't fly with me.

You are so naive, it's sad. In the US there is rule of law. There is separation of powers and independent judiciary. The fact that protesters arrested at the 2004 convention had their charges dropped proves that. Protesters in Russia get arrested, beaten, and then they get convicted. Michail Khodorkovsky, an industrialist who dared oppose Putin, has been convicted of a ridiculous charge of stealing oil from his own oil company, and he has been in prison for almost a decade. In fact, he has been tried twice and convicted twice, despite the fact that his defense attorneys completely destroyed the prosecution's case both times.

There are no independent courts in Russia. Those who oppose the ruling clique, or those who are unfortunate enough to get run over by an official's car get convicted. There is no independent legislature in Russia. The parliament rubber stamps any law that Putin wants passed. They have just passed a law effectively forbidding any public assembly not sanctioned by the authorities. Boris Gryzlov, who became the chairman of the Russian parliament in 2003, famously said that the parliament is not a place for political battles.

For some reason people seem to think that the rest of the world is more or less the same as the town they live it. The fact is that other places can be very different. Russia is not in the same category as the US. The level of corruption in the two countries cannot even be compared.

Comment: Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (Score 4, Informative) 271

by wpi97 (#40244175) Attached to: CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border
The "Occupiers" were able to protest for many days or even months in many US cities. Some were arrested for disturbing the peace or for refusing to leave after *very* long time. According to Wikipedia, the protest in Boston lasted for over 70 days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Boston During that time 186 people have been arrested, with NO injuries.

There is no comparison to Russia, where people have been arrested and beaten in the streets with no justification at all. Some opposition leaders have been arrested right after leaving their houses, before they even got to a protests.

On a related note, in Russia people are protesting massive election fraud by the ruling party and massive corruption in all levels of government. I am still trying to figure out what exactly the "Occupiers" in the US are protesting against.

IMHO, there is no comparison between the occupy movement in the US and the protests in Russia.

Comment: Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (Score 4, Interesting) 271

by wpi97 (#40243559) Attached to: CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border
I suppose you have never heard the song by Timur Shaov about crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine...

Going back to the facts, any time you try to enter a foreign country there is a chance that you may be interrogated, or even refused entry for any reason. This does not make a regime "brutal" in any way.

On the other hand, in Russia you need a "registration" to be allowed to stay in Moscow, even if you are a Russian citizen. And police can stop you on the street and arrest you or extort money from you if you do not have the registration. You might want to ask the migrant workers from Central Asia about that. I have never heard of any sort of registration being required for staying in Washington DC or New York City.

By the way, do you own a car in Russia? How many times did you have to pay a bribe to the police?

Comment: Re:Is Iran really such a threat? (Score 1) 532

by wpi97 (#40129211) Attached to: Iran Reverse Engineers Cobra Attack Helicopter
I don't make up any stories. I am basing what I say on what I have read.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basij#Origins
http://www.iranmilitaryforum.net/the-sacred-defence/using-children-to-run-across-a-minefield-to-clear-the-way-for-the-ground-troops/
http://www.worldology.com/Iraq/iran_iraq_war.htm

If what I have read is not true, it would be fascinating to hear what you have seen, since you were there.

In any case, at 15 you were a boy. Maybe a boy with a gun, but still a boy. There is a reason why 15-year-olds are not considered adults in most of the countries in the world. They lack maturity to make informed decisions, and can be easily manipulated. Would you send your own child to fight at 15 if there was any way to avoid it? When an enemy approaches your city you do everything you can to evacuate women and children to safety. You don't send them on a suicide mission to clear mine fields.

As far as the chemical weapons, Iraq got theirs from the West. Just because you have Chemistry professors and a chemical industry, doesn't mean you have the capability to produce enough chemical weapons quickly enough. I am guessing being an oil-producing country Iraq had a chemical industry too. Yet it got its chemical weapons from the outside.

Conversely, if your country is invaded and you can make chemical weapons, then why in the world would you choose to not use them and send thousands of your own people to die instead? What is more humane: killing the invaders or sacrificing your own people?

This brings me back to my original point: Iranian leaders will have no qualms sacrificing thousands or even millions of Muslims, especially Sunnis.

Comment: Re:Is Iran really such a threat? (Score 1) 532

by wpi97 (#40125845) Attached to: Iran Reverse Engineers Cobra Attack Helicopter
First, I am not justifying Iraqi atrocities by any way. However, I am amazed how people who send unarmed men into battle and who send boys to clear mine fields have the chutzpah to pontificate on what is humane and what isn't. I also think that the only reason Iran did not use chemical weapons in that war is because it didn't have them.

Comment: Re:Is Iran really such a threat? (Score 1) 532

by wpi97 (#40125315) Attached to: Iran Reverse Engineers Cobra Attack Helicopter
During the Iran-Iraq war, Iranian leadership used a tactic called the "human wave". They sent huge numbers of unarmed men to attack Iraqi troops. The Iranians kept coming (and dying) until the Iraqis ran out of ammo. After that the Iranians would overrun the Iraqi positions. This is just to illustrate how much the Iranian leaders care about not getting their own people killed. Add to that the fact that the vast majority of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs are Sunnis, whereas the Iranians are Shiites. There is a lot of bad blood between the Sunnis and the Shiites, and each does not really consider the other to be true Muslims. As far as your last point, it appears that anything Israel does, short of committing a collective suicide, fosters anti-semitism.

Comment: Re:It's not just specialization, there is also fea (Score 1) 269

by wpi97 (#40117149) Attached to: Where's HAL 9000?
I agree that syntax alone is insufficient for semantics. But I also believe that semantics can be implemented computationally. I think of semantics as the connections among concepts, and also connections between concepts and sensory data.

The bits of paper, the room, the rule-book, and tortured subject in the room are completely irrelevant to the CRA.

I have understood the CRA as a refutation of the Turing test. I. e. CRA tries to show that even if a machine passes the Turing test, it need not be intelligent. That is what I disagree with.

Comment: Re:It's not just specialization, there is also fea (Score 1) 269

by wpi97 (#40112905) Attached to: Where's HAL 9000?
The CRA makes a very big assumption. It assumes that it is possible to write down a set of rules for putting together Chinese characters that would allow a person to compose a sensible reply to a question in Chinese, without understanding the language. I do not believe that it is possible to put together these rules without relating the characters to real-world concepts, i. e. without making the person understand them.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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