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Comment Re:Scapegoat (Score 1) 195

Of course, I think the review should go through. Of course, I realize there is little chance this will exculpate Bales. I said as much. I was commenting on the politics of the situation. As evidenced by numerous posts in this very thread, it's very easy to read about this drug's role and immediately jump to conclusions about a conspiracy to allow these murders to go unpunished. If such a jump is so easy on slashdot, imagine what what conspiracies might spread in a more febrile environment like Afghanistan and how those conspiracies would further weaken Afghan belief in.

Still, it isn't an argument against doing the review and getting this drug away from soldiers. I merely mean to say that this is a rapidly deteriorating situation that threatens a complete breakdown of an already fragile trust between Kabul and the West.

Comment The Administration's Sweating Profusely (Score 5, Insightful) 195

Obviously it's pure speculation, but I have a hard time believing this would mitigate any punishment Bales receives. It would be a nightmare of the most extreme order for the military should Bales be exculpated, even in the most limited sense. The Afghans have been screaming for him to be tried under Afghan law. It would be hard enough to punishment short of the death penalty to the Afghan public, much less an outcome that ends with him in psychiatric care first. This is just one more massive headache in a case that can't be over for the Pentagon fast enough.

In the mean time, expect relations to continue to deteriorate between Afghan security forces and ISAF troops. There is real danger of this review fueling conspiracy theories and sparking further knife-in-the-back attacks on ISAF troops like we've already seen.

It increasingly seems that no one is winning from this war. Afghan civilians have had any sense that westerners provide safety shattered. Westerners trust their Afghan counterparts even less. And yet most of Afghan development depends on the industry that supports the international presence there, which a hasty pull-out would destroy. What's the least bad option here?

Comment Re:all this crap about israel (Score 1) 240

"Just because they will play ball with the chosen people..."

You don't really get the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict do you? "Playing ball" means not invading with an intent to destroy. I see tamping down revanchist regimes as a good idea. I don't know about you.

If you are of the persuasion that the US funding is the reason strongmen still rule many Arab states at the expense of peaceful democracies, I've got a few facts for you. Qaddafi's regime was under sanctions from the US for years. His son was killed by an American missile strike. During the Bush administration, in both Gaza and Lebanon, the White House pressed for inclusive elections, and Israel went along. Hamas and Hezbollah came to power. The shortcomings of both those parties being in power should be obvious. The reason the Egyptian military took no action against protesters, leaving Mubarrak to feebly attempt to crush them with private goons, is that firing on protesters would endanger the healthy military-to-military relationship with the US.The US has made its mistakes in the region sure, but it's either ignorant or dishonest to say that US policy is more often than not set forth in good faith.

You fault Israelis and pro-Israel people for being defensive, but the fact of the matter is that Israel is simultaneously under more pressure from external threats and more scrutiny from the international community. Combine that with the facts of the Shoah, that there is still quite a lot of real anti-Semitism floating around, and that most people have such a shallow understanding of the conflict to think that all the suffering has been one sided and you might begin to understand why there's such a defensiveness when it comes to the state of Israel. You can keep living in your feverish dream world where American religious zealots brutally repress Arabs and the Jews shape things with the all powerful anti-Semite card, but the real world is a lot more complicated.
Science

Submission + - The Shifting Tides of International Science (economist.com)

explosivejared writes: "The Economist has a story on the increasing scientific productivity countries like China, India, and Brazil relative to the field's old guards in America, Europe, and Japan. Scientific productivity in this sense includes percent of GDP spent on R&D and the overall numbers of researchers, scholarly articles, and patents that a country produces. The article sees this as a natural side effect of the buoying economic prospects of these countries. Perhaps the most positive piece of the story is the fact that a full 35% of scholarly scientific articles in leading journals are now the product of international collaboration. From the article: "[M]ore than 35% of articles in leading journals are now the product of international collaboration. That is up from 25% 15 years ago—something the old regime and the new alike can celebrate.""

Comment No Connection with Tehran (Score 4, Insightful) 63

It seems that there is no real connection between this group and Tehran. It's important to remember that when there is real discussion going on about conflict with Iran. That being said, this group does seem to be motivated by some sort of Iranian nationalism. It's just a further reminder of how small groups and individuals can inflame international imbroglios, leaving state actors in a bind. Think the Netanyahu and Obama administrations' paralysis over how to handle the settlers in the West Bank.

Comment Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (Score 1) 313

I've not read the entire case, but it definitely lays down precedent that something like this would be a search. Via the Wikipedia entry, "Justice Scalia also discussed how future technology can invade on one's right of privacy and therefore authored the opinion so that it protected against more sophisticated surveillance equipment." That leads me to believe that even though there's a different electromagnetic wave involved, the court would likely see it as a "search," thus necessitating a warrant.

Comment Dumb to use away from points of entry (Score 3, Insightful) 313

It's definitely a dumb idea to have these things just roaming the streets, and that's without even considering the privacy concerns. It's absurdly hard to actually identify items that only rarely occur, say weapons, in samples like this. The human eye just isn't that good at it. It gets worse the more samples you take. The only place I can see for this is scanning at the border where people being smuggled in would be pretty obvious. At the border, a search like this makes sense since by law it's necessary to declare many items that you bring into a country. Otherwise, not only is it mostly a waste of time, but a dead ringer for an unreasonable search. The article was light on just how prevalent their use is outside of ports and points of entry, so it's hard to say if there's any serious danger to the average person on the street. Also, health concerns are probably overblown. If the dose is in micro Sv, that's a small fraction of the regular background dose.

Comment Re:Wow... (Score 4, Insightful) 750

I don't mean to be hectoring or to be advocating any kind of liberal guilt complex here, but living in China has restored my appreciation for the whole mess that is American democracy. Granted, It's also made me a sharper critic of its foibles. Living in a place with very little public discourse, silly or not, has really highlighted just how valuable it is to have a give and take relationship between a people and it's government.

Sure there's lots of puffed up rage, but you'll get that when you have the threat of depression stalking the land. The fact of the matter is that we are facing a political sea change, and I don't mean the false choice between "constitutional values" and "socialism". I mean we face a decision about uprooting our political class. America could have a record number of first term Senators this coming Congress. On a bigger scale, we're living in a graying world where America's immigration policy holds the key to continued American vitality. Things like these are huge generational shifts that are occurring within the country. It's hard to predict how it will all play out, but America is at a demographic crossroads and this election will play a huge role in determining the legacy of the Obama presidency and the direction America takes as it faces new and serious challenges.

Sure the election cycle is absurdly long, and most of what passes for debate is less than scholarly or professional. Still, to say that one is uninterested in the election is an immature and glib fashion statement meant to reinforce the haughty notion one is above it all. Being interested in the election doesn't necessarily mean that you're a poll junky or a "culture warrior." It just means that you're a sensible person that cares about the direction that America is taking.

Comment Team Viewer (Score 0) 454

Team viewer is a powerful remote access tool that is free for personal use. I use it to manage all of the machines on my home network. it has 256 bit encryption and uses a one time use access key of a permanent password. it is very secure and allows full control of the remote machine. You can even switch places so they can view your screen.

Comment Droid Owner (Score 3, Informative) 289

I just recently converted to android. Maybe I'm just late to the game, and we're on the tail end of this exodus now. My first impression, having been on the platform for a week, is that there has been almost no development, especially in making games, for android that is anywhere comparable to the iphone. I would posit that this "exodus" is made up. The market is still nowhere near as developed as the app store. Any discussion about a comparison of the two models is premature at best.

Comment 10/2003 Napster Rerelease Almost Qualifies (Score 1) 150

Ironically enough, it appears that the post-lawsuit relaunch of Napster almost hit the mark in October of 2003:

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_42/b3854093_mz063.htm

It has a subscription option, and you can download content, but the problem is that the subscribed content is "streaming" and not automatically downloaded to the client computer. I'll be following this story as this patent would invalidate my Miro player.

I wish just one of these frivilous "process patents," which the high courts have ruled acceptable because they modify the physical components of a computer (ie. hard drive), would go to the Supreme Court, as the recent comments from its members signal they think the patents are ridiculous as well and would probably invalidate them.

Comment Re:Linux Peace Prize? (Score 2, Interesting) 541

At least in the post-WW2 era, I think this is true. Even in the pre-WW2 era, you could argue that too much emphasis was placed on the negotiators of peace treaties (many of which were more like terms of surrender) than the other part of the definition. I do think that, in retrospect, Gorbachev did deserve it (or at least led a group of people who did so) "for the abolition or reduction of standing armies" by pushing the Soviet Union towards a peaceful end to the cold war. But... awarding it to him in 1990, when the relatively peaceful transition of Russia out of the cold war was far from a certain outcome, meant it was really just luck that they actually got one right. Not to mention that the credit really belonged jointly to Gorbachev and Reagan, but it seems like the Nobel committee has a distinct dislike for those on the political right.

Comment Re:Heaven forbid... (Score 1) 517

It might be also of some comfort to note that one of my law classes just went over a stat that said something to the effect like 95% of all cases never even make it to trial. Most cases are settled outside of the courtroom and handled pretty much by the attorneys. Only the most complicated usually make it to trial. Come to think of it, that may actually not bring any comfort at all. My point is, though, that most of the workings in the criminal justice system are out of the hands of poorly informed jurors. They only get the really tricky ones that are hotly contested and the most difficult to rule on.

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