I've been teaching for three weeks in the world's largest English language camp: Tsinghua University's 2006 English Summer Camp. Tsinghua is probably the Harvard, Yale or MIT of China. Several people have claimed various other schools at times, but those are the most common comparison. The students are smart, hungry, movitated, funny, and are willing to compete on any level at anything.
Basically, I work with a group of about 60 students from computer and electrical engineering. One of the best suprises was how much these tech students love to sing. In the course of the first few days they learned to sing Rocky Top, obscure American pop songs, Louie Louie, and Brown Eyed Girl. Oh yes, and Country Roads, the semi-national anthem of our class. They can now tell you the geographical errors in the song without prompting.
One small group of my guys formed a band called FTP while another formed a group called All for Lucy. Picture attached of FTP and their coach.
There's not much free time- but when it's available I take it. This results in long afternoons getting tea making lessons and such. And walking around in this very pumping city. It's booming, booming booming and the Olympics are just around the corner to make it boom some more. Everyone is excited about the Olympics. The students, the teachers, the guy selling some mystery meat in the streets,the oustanding street musicians, the shop keepers. They are expecting big things as a result.
It's all too much to take in. You can't visit a city like this for three weeks and even make a half dent in it. But I tried, this included also seeing live music. And this where I noticed that Beijing is on the way up quickly. Their live rock bands kick butt. That, and a great beer are the two secret signs of a culture that is ready for the new world. They are still working on the beer, but I think the Beijing Olympic Beer might be a winner.
Great rock bands in Beijing? I think we know who won the Cold War.
Enough. I've read and re-read all the material on the Barrett case and then discussed, thought some more, and discussed again. In the end, we're going to act locally because our unease coming out of this just won't ease. As the father of an inbound freshman who completed SOAR and is a month away from moving into the dorm, we're pulling the plug on UW here, and actively calling back some of the schools we turned down. Yes, it is because of this Barrett class, not this one nut alone, but of the even scarier indifference and lack of systemic accountability involved throughout this process. It really is a truth teller as to what is in store for us the next 4 years, and so, we are opting out. My wife and I are both highly educated and of a fairly liberal bent ourselves, but clearly this 9/11 incident has legs and is indicative of a deeper core cancer at this institution.
There's more, and you should read it all, especially if you're an administrator at the University of Wisconsin.
BUSH'S STEM CELL VETO: As I noted below, this appears to be mostly political theater on both sides. I think Bush was wrong to veto the bill, though, and I also think that he's going to get extra heat because this was his first veto. If he had been vetoing bills all along, this wouldn't be such a big deal. And it's not as if there weren't plenty of other bills he could have vetoed. . . .
U.S. intelligence agencies have invested millions of dollars since 9/11 on computer programs that search through financial, communications, travel and other personal records of people in the USA and around the world for connections to terrorism, according to public records and security experts.
Interestingly, it sounds as if a lot of the data is purchased from commercial databases. It would be useful to have a debate on what sort of data mining is appropriate, on the level of general principles, as opposed to the sort of episodic alarmism we get about particular programs.
In probably unrelated war-on-terror news, there seem to be more prosecutions of terror suspects in the United States:
Two men already accused of discussing terror targets with Islamic extremists were indicted Wednesday on charges of undergoing paramilitary training in northwest Georgia and plotting a "violent jihad" against civilian and government targets, including an air base in suburban Atlanta.
The new indictment accuses Syed Ahmed, a 21-year-old Georgia Tech student who was arrested in March, and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 19, of traveling to Washington to film possible targets, including the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of the World Bank, and sharing the recordings with another alleged terrorist based in Great Britain.
Both men are U.S. citizens who grew up in Atlanta area. They previously were accused of traveling to Canada last year to meet with Islamic extremists to discuss "strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike," including military bases and oil refineries, according to prosecutors.
A British man was indicted Wednesday on charges he helped run terrorism fundraising Web sites, set up terrorists with temporary housing in England and possessed a classified U.S. Navy document revealing troop movements.
Syed Talha Ahsan was arrested at his home in London, England, on a federal indictment in Connecticut charging him with conspiracy to support terrorists and conspiracy to kill or injure people abroad.
Ahsan is accused in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist who was indicted in Connecticut in October 2004.
Both are accused of running several Web sites including Azzam.com, which investigators say was used to recruit members for the al Qaeda network, Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime and Chechen rebels.
Rep. Jerry Lewis profited handsomely on an investment in a fledgling bank headed by a close friend who invited him to get in on the company's initial stock offering.
The California Republican was given the opportunity to buy into Security Bank of California in early 2005, shortly after becoming chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Lewis' initial $22,000 investment now is worth nearly $60,000.
Besides his friendship with bank Chairman James Robinson, Lewis has other connections to the bank. Several of its board members have contributed to his campaigns and are linked to businesses that shared in the bonanza of federal dollars Lewis steered back home.
Lewis' finances are under scrutiny as part of a broad federal investigation into connections between Washington lobbyists, their clients and the awarding of government contracts. No charges have been filed, and Lewis has denied any wrongdoing.
For the past three years the Government of Sudan has supported its proxy, the Janjaweed Arab militia, to perform a brutal genocidal operation closely backed by Sudanese forces. Darfur Africans cannot farm for fear of attack. No harvests mean that more than three million are dependent on international food aid. In the absence of the African Union and with no certainty that the UN will protect them, a few million hungry people will predictably turn to the only forces showing an interest in their survival — one of several rebel factions.
The Government of Sudan has probably calculated that, by playing for time, the rebel groups will attempt to provide protection for their own people. An escalation of fighting will prevent access for aid agencies and the media, and Khartoum will have the excuse it needs for a resumption of air attacks on Darfuris.
The Janjaweed leaders have had time to reflect that they have not achieved their mission to rid Darfur of black Africans. The onslaught by the mounted militia three years ago led to thousands of villages being burnt. Their aim of destroying the Darfuris will be easier now that two million people are congregated into refugee camps because they will argue that, as the camps are recruitment grounds for rebels, they are legitimate targets.
Neutralisation of the Janjaweed is a key rebel demand — indeed the Government of Sudan has been responsible for disarming them for two years. But Khartoum’s broken promises leave a legacy of mistrust. By giving the Janjaweed free rein, the Government goads the rebels into not taking peace seriously. Furthermore, many rebels are not satisfied that the peace agreement reverses the underlying problems in Darfur.
But first, beer! We visited a microbrewery and talked with Master Brewer Al Kruzen and his apprentice brewer Joey Barbarito about the way the brewing industry has changed, how -- in a fashion discussed elsewhere -- homebrewers changed the industry and are now finding employment in its ranks, and what a brewery and pub can do for a downtown neighborhood. Plus, advice on how to get a job in microbrewing! The interviews were all recorded on location using this Edirol recorder. You can judge the quality for yourself; I think it turned out pretty well given the degree of background noise, etc.
Congress embarks this week on the weightiest of debates on morality and the march of science, deciding whether to use public money for embryonic stem cell research and, in turn, setting up President Bush's first veto.
Neither the House nor Senate has demonstrated enough support for the bill to override a veto, though the House probably will try, just to give Bush a definitive victory in the showdown.
Supporters of the research hold out faint hope that Bush, presented with new data and pressured by election-year politics, might reverse course and sign the bill.
This looks like a base-pleasing effort all around, part of the political Kabuki that I've come to expect on this sort of issue, but I have to say that I can think of quite a few bills I'd rather have seen Bush veto.
posted at 07:01 AM by Glenn Reynolds
OFF TO A CONFERENCE where I'll present a paper on libel and the blogosphere. Blogging (and response to email) will be light this week, I expect, though I'll be online from time to time.
THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS IS UP: And since I've been pretty lame about listing carnivals lately, be sure to visit BlogCarnival.com for more. And note the carnival highlights in the right sidebar, just above the blogroll.
IS NEWT GINGRICH CRITICIZING BUSH, or is he criticizing the left? Maybe both?
posted at 10:46 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RICHARD EPSTEIN criticizes Presidential signing statements. While I think there's some place for them -- and, shockingly, as Epstein notes, they predate the Bush Administration -- I think that reinterpreting laws via signing statements is wrong. Presidents should veto bills they object to, rather than signing them and trying to avoid their impact through signing statements.
Here's an excerpt, which seems right to me:
President Bush dishonors traditions in his aggressive use of signing statements as one way among many to circumvent the congressional and judicial checks built into the Constitution.
My objection to signing statements does not apply just to the president. It includes efforts by members of Congress to skew statutory interpretation through the adroit use of legislative history. The risk in both situations is that the president or members of Congress essentially fudge the record to distort the meaning of laws.
Individual members of Congress don't speak for an entire branch of government. The president, however, by virtue of his distinctive constitutional position, necessarily speaks for the branch that lies under his direct control. His message is often all too clear.
One way to counter the risk is to give these statements no more weight before a court or administrative agency than the same statement made by some third party in a law review article or editorial. Assuming that courts would do so, many people might wonder why signing statements are any big deal, if courts are free to disregard them.
It's not engine failure or bad aircaft designs that kill passengers and flight crews on aircraft but "Gotta-get-there-itis". This easily preventable disease is still the biggest killer of flight crews and passengers in the world, and it's the passengers and the pressures they put on flight crews to "get there" that serve as one of the root causes to this horrible disease. . . .
I'd much rather be inconvenienced by a delay, than dead from a bad decision. For me what matters is safety above all. The emphasis for scheduling is up to me. If I'm flying on a tight schedule and the schedule doesnt work, its ok, most of the schedule is out of my control. If its within my control to change my schedule by flying with fewer stopovers or with bigger layover windows, or heaven forbid - early, I do it. If I dont have those options, well I take the chance that a simple delay could blow the whole trip. It does happen, but its not the worst thing in the world. This is the worst thing in the world. I missed this flight because I was stuck in a meeting that went long. One of my coworkers managed to catch it. He was interested in getting home for his kids first Halloween.
He didn't make it.
Airlines can be infuriating, especially when the delays aren't safety-related, or when they give you the runaround. But Frank's got a good point.
While the death of Chechen terrorist leader Shamil Basayev on July 10th has received considerable attention, it's also worth noting that perhaps as many as a dozen other people were killed with him. So far, no one in Russia has said anything officially about these people. There are, however, rumors that some of them were key players in the Chechen rebel movement. If that is so, their deaths, coupled with those of Basayev and of Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, the rebel "president," less than a month ago, may have fatally weakened the rebel movement. Basayev was also the leader of the "Islamic" faction of the Chechen rebel movement.
I hope this is right. The Chechens have gotten a raw deal from history, but Basayev deserved to die, and so did his movement.
DANG: I'm at the Mellow Mushroom finishing up a book review, and I nearly went to the Preservation Pub instead. Good thing I didn't, though if I had I could have done some cool photojournalism like Randy Neal.
So there's a story that two Al Qaeda members may have died under torture in Afghanistan. Alex says "the use of torture like this simply cannot stand". I am honestly trying to see this as a bad thing, but its hard. These guys were members of the Al Qaeda network. They weren't Joe Afghan Civilian who was the suspect of a crime, they were members of a terrorist network whose sole purpose on this planet is to kill as many of us as they can.
I hear the arguments for morality, and protests that because we're Americans we just can't do this - and while I think the logic may be sound, we spent too many days watching the powdered remains of people being removed from the WTC, incinerated bodies from the Pentagon, corpses from The Cole and the embassies in Kenya or the nightclub in Bali for me to give two seconds of thought into the fact that the last minutes of life for an Al Qaeda soldier may have been unpleasant.
Some believe that because I'm a liberal that my argument against war in Iraq and that our focus should be on Al Qaeda is just so much partisan bickering. But that's not true. The world will be a better place when every member of the Al Qaeda network is dead. Not arrested and tried under some B.S. court, but dead.
After all, that was way back in 2003! (Oliver later "clarified" this, but his archives seem to have lost the torture posts, and the link in the Wayback Machine version is taking me to Amazon for some reason; maybe you'll have better luck. But hey, I'm providing more context and fairness than some people . . . .)