Stuff Yaron Finds Interesting

Technology, Politics, Food, Finance, etc.

Politics, religion and everything else you aren’t supposed to be able to talk about.

Jose Padilla, the details matter

Jose Padilla is an American citizen arrested on American soil and accused by President Bush of being an enemy combatant. To that end he was thrown into prison three years ago where he has rotted ever since. In October of last year the Supreme Court ruled that Padilla's appeal against his status as an enemy combatant had been filed in the wrong court and ordered his case retried in a different court district (one that just happens to be much more conservative than the one that heard his original case). Nearly a full year later a decision has just come down from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The details of the situation make for interesting reading.

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Destroying Settler Homes in Gaza

Recently Sanjiva Weerawarana wrote in his blog how awful it was that settler homes in Gaza are being destroyed when the settlers leave. He further accuses anyone who believes the stated reason for the homes' destruction, that the Palestinians have better uses for the land, of being idiots. One wonders what Sanjiva would think of the Palestinian Authority's housing and public works minister Mohammed Shtayyeh who said "If Israel does not destroy settlers' homes, we will destroy them."

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Just a wee bit of a change

I suppose some of my readers may have noticed just a tiny change in the way my blog looks. The biggest change is actually a move from Blosxom to WordPress driven mostly by the fact that my hacked together kludge of a Blosxom website was becoming unmaintainable. I'm really impressed with WordPress, not only could I set it up in less than 5 minutes but it did just about everything I wanted right out of the box. I realize the color scheme is a bit extreme but I like it and I love the way the text flows to fill the screen size. Since my blog entries tend to be articles this is a much more natural way to present things. Now I just have to figure out how to work in the Google AdSense ads without them looking unpleasant.

Hating Jews – Boycotting Israeli Universities

So what does it take to get one's universities boycotted by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT)? Does killing 10s of thousands of civilians get you boycotted? Nope, not good enough. Perhaps that's not a direct enough comparison. How about invading a territory, killing its people and moving in huge numbers of one's own population in order to assert de-facto control? Nope, that won't do it either. Perhaps outright genocide? No, that won't cut it. So if killing civilians, ethnic cleansing and genocide don't merit boycotts, what does? Being Jewish will do it. Antisemitism seems too sterile a term for the AUT's actions. Perhaps Jew hatred more directly captures it?

I have no trouble understanding why many people would have serious problems with Israel's policies in the occupied territories. I have no trouble understanding why people would want to take action to try and stop Israel's policies there. But the difference between honest protest and Jew hatred is consistency. As demonstrated above AUT's actions are completely inconsistent which lets one know that the criteria they are using for their boycott targets is something other than human rights.

Cell Phone Health Hazards?

Two weeks ago the economist had an article more or less making fun of people who think that Cell phones might pose a health hazard. To be clear, to date there has not been any conclusive evidence that cell phones are dangerous. Instead, based on the evidence provided by the book and the article I reference below, there appears to instead be a well organized attempt by the cell phone industry (specifically the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA)) to make sure that the research done into cell phones health affects won't find anything wrong.

[Update: 10/11/2005 – A good article at Commercial Alert about Cell Phone Hazards to children.]

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Fighting the Lies – The Guardian's Editorial on Israel

The Guardian, a newspaper with a long history of hating Israel, has published an editorial which asserts that historically the Jews really never cared for Israel and anyway Jews have been treated just wonderfully throughout the world and should be happy to live without a Jewish State since all a Jewish state can apparently can do is oppress Palestinians. The really scary party is that while the author felt it necessary to trot out lies and half truths to 'prove' his first two points, the last point, that Israel's existence requires oppressing Palestinians, he didn't feel he needed to 'prove'. He felt he could just assert it since he understands, correctly, that such a belief is axiomatic in European thinking.

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Papers, Please

Taking away fundamental rights in an 'open' and 'free' society tends to be hard to do in big chunks. Pull away too many rights at one time and you risk awakening the populace. So generally things tend to happen quietly, slowly, in small pieces and always for "good reasons". It's not so much a conspiracy but the inevitable 'function creep' of all governments. The only way to stop this creeping loss of freedom is to publicly identify it and fight to have our freedoms restored.

John Gilmore, founder of the EFF amongst other accomplishments, carefully explains just how many of our freedoms of travel, association and employment have been made subject to the U.S. government's whim. I've read a lot about Mr. Gilmore's efforts to fight this most recent theft of liberty, but I still found his latest missive compelling for its stark and simple presentation of the facts. Well worth reading.