Category Archives: International

Want Everyone to have Access to Braodband? Follow the Fins…

As of July 1st, every person in Finland will have the right to broadband access as decreed by the government. Yep…very person.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that the U.S. has officially fallen further behind the rest of the world in the realm of Internet technology but it also means something more. It means jobs for telecomminication workers who will be compelled to extend service to all households (in Finland). It also means empowering all ciitizens by providing the information that can transform lives and enrich cultures (in Finland). All fo this seems to be lost on the U.S. (…but not in Finland).

As for president Obama and his promise of broadband expansion in this country? Well, that seems like little more than a pipe dream at best. In fact, telecommunication providers in the U.S. are declining to accept government funding for just such a project. They claim accepting the funds would wrap them in government red tape and subject them to following government project rules.

Perish the thought.

One has to wonder if the real reason is simply that most corporate conservatives are just plain old anti-anything-Obama, even more than they are wildly (as a result of shear greed and ignorance) anti-regulation on any level.

Meanwhile, every Finn will have the right to access to a 1Mbps (megabit per second) broadband connection by 2015.

Conclusion? The rest of the world gets it and we don’t.

The premise is simple. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment purposes, they are an essential part of every citizen’s life. Would any government deny their citizens of basic communication and telephone service? Probably not I’m guessing.

Why should the Internet be any different?

Read the full story on the BBC here…

A poll conducted for the BBC World Service earlier this year found that nearly four in five people around the world believed that access to the internet is a fundamental right.

I happen to agree.

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Filed under Economy, International, Law, Media, Politics, Technology

Before You Make Any Long-Term Plans…You Better Read This….


Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this handout photograph taken on April 21, 2010 and obtained on April 22, 2010.

(This article was re-printed from PetroleumWorld.com.) 

By Christian A. DeHaemer

The Dwarves dug too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum… shadow and flame.

 — Saruman, The Lord of the Rings

There is something primordial about BP’s quest for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an Icarus-like story of super-ambition; of reaching too far, delving too deep. I don’t know if you’ve stopped to contemplate what BP was trying to do…The well itself started 5,000 feet below the surface. That’s the depth of the Grand Canyon from the rim. And then the company attempted to drill more than 30,000 feet below that — Mt. Everest would give 972 feet to spare. Furthermore, the company sought oil in a dangerous area of the seabed. It was unstable and many think BP sought it out because seismic data showed huge pools of methane gas — the very gas that blew the top off Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 people. More than a year ago, geologists criticized Transocean for putting their exploratory rig directly over a massive underground reservoir of methane. According to the New York Times , BP’s internal “documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of ‘well control.’ And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.” The problem is that this methane, located deep in the bowels of the earth, is under tremendous pressure… Some speculate as much as 100,000 psi — far too much for current technology to contain. The shutoff vales and safety measures were built for only 1,000 psi. It was an accident waiting to happen… And there are many that say it could get worse — much worse. Geologists are pointing to other fissures and cracks that are appearing on the ocean floor around the damaged wellhead. Continue reading

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Filed under Crime, Energy, Environmental Policy, Global Warming, Health and Wellness, International, Law, Politics, Scandals

Iceland Passes Sweeping Legislation to Protect Journalistic Integrity

The Icelandic parliament has voted to create the strongest media freedom laws in the world aimed at protecting journalists and preserving news integrity.

Known as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, the new law requires changes to Icelandic law to strengthen journalistic source protection, freedom of speech, and government transparency. It isn’t clear at this early stage if this new law will result in the desired effect but its potential is obvious, especially for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Experts and critics are already referring to it as a server safe law, meaning it would probably prevent servers from being forcibly shut down, if the powers that be deem them a nuisance..

There might be other benefits too.

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Filed under CapitolStreet News, Congress, International, Law, Media, Politics

John McCain’s New York Times Op-Ed That Never Was

Conservatives are up in arms over the New York Times’ decision to pull an op-ed piece that John McCain wrote in response to Barack Obama’s op-ed regarding, Iraq.

Here is the text:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80 percent to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City — actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war — only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

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Filed under Democratic Party, Election 2008, Foreign Policy, International, Media, Politics, Republican Party

Mid Day Discussion – David and Goliath, Iran is Defiant

Iran has launched several “test missiles” and shelled Northern Iraq in response to recent sabre rattling by the U.S. and Israel. Iran has also indicated that their “finger is on the trigger” if they are attacked by Israel or the U.S. Do you think the U.S. and/or Israel will be involved with Iran in warfare by the end of this year? 

Link to CNN story here

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Filed under Foreign Policy, George Bush, International, Mid-Day Discussion Thread, Politics, War in Iraq

Your Morning Cereal – AIG Donates $1 Million to China Earthquake Relief Effort

 

 

 

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) announced a $1 million donation with the goal of supporting relief and rebuilding efforts following the recent devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck China’s Sichuan Province. AIG also announced that it would match all employee contributions to the AIG Disaster Relief Fund.

 

AIG President and CEO Martin J. Sullivan, stated, “AIG is deeply committed to providing financial assistance to our friends in China who have been greatly affected by this devastating natural catastrophe. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chinese people during this extremely difficult time,” and added, “Our contributions will hopefully help residents of Sichuan Province to begin the process of healing and rebuilding. Through our extensive experience and partnerships in the region, AIG is ready to provide necessary support.”

No doubt, this contribution will help disaster relief personel and supplies hit the ground in a more timely fashion, so those victims of this intense tragedy can begin the long, slow process of rebuilding their communities.

Read the whole story here

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Filed under International, Morning Cereal