2013-11-28

Armin Rosen on South Sudan

Via Michael J. Totten, Armin Rosen has an excellent piece on South Sudan from a year and a half ago.
The oldest building in Juba is its Mother Church, which was built by Anglican missionaries in the 1920s and sits at a confluence of shaded dirt roads, behind an expensive hotel that opened less than a year ago. It’s a red brick, open-air building with a roof made out of tin siding; the pews are also brick, and the floor is a lustrous concrete. It is cool and breezy, and on a boiling day—which is most days—the winds whipping through its partly-open ceiling evoke a sense of spiritual expansiveness, of being in a place quite a bit larger than mere physicality would suggest.

When we were here during the war, the pastor told me, all the South Sudanese that lived here were not allowed to go outside more than 15 kilometers. And if you want to go out you need to get a permit. For you just to get to your farm, you must get a permit to travel, and you must get no objection from internal security, public security or military intelligence. When you get no objections on your documents, you can go out. Sometimes you’re given a no objection document, but all of a sudden you find yourself kept in. You were treated as a foreigner in your own home.

And then the war itself—those years when the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, the country’s eventual liberators, laid siege to the last major city it had been unable to capture, a northern garrison where the only cars were military vehicles, and the only permanent structures were government offices and mosques that hardly anyone uses anymore, even though they’re the largest and really most impressive buildings in the city—everything is centered on the war, he continued. Everything is actually portraying the image of war. ...
Go read it all.

2013-11-20

World Today: 2013-11-20

Australia's foreign minister will be in Washington for talks on Asian / Pacific relations. And: 'It is likely Australian officials will ask their US counterparts if they can expect more damaging leaks from the NSA, said Ely Ratner, the author of a report from the Centre for a New American Security on how the US can sustainably increase its military presence in Australia and the region.'

Europe joins the drone club. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke in Brussels about Europe's drone-capable nations, presently including France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.

Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rei says Egypt to get Russian arms. The deal will give Egypt parity with Israel; Russia is said to have offered "flexibility" in payment terms.

Liberman: Israel needs allies, not painful concessions. He spoke of lessons learned from the Gaza disengagement, and said Israel needs to look beyond the US for alliances.

ABC News poll: Youth reject Obama, Obamacare. Meanwhile, linguist John McWhorter at CNN observes that 'on Obamacare, we face the awkward fact that the right wing has not been completely vanquished in its quest to vilify the program with a name.' Obama, Obamacare - which one is a greater liability to the other? It's a puzzler.

2013-11-19

Because.

English has a new proposition. This following the accession of selfie to the hallowed ranks of "Word of the Year".

Nigeria / Israel ties are getting closer with the new BASA (Bilateral Air Services Agreement) paving the way for direct flights between Israel and Nigeria.

True the Vote gets tax-exempt status, finally.

2013-11-10

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R - SC4) on Benghazi

Trey Gowdy to the press:

"Can you tell me why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the night that he was killed? Do you know? Does it bother you whether or not you know why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi?"

2013-11-09

Obama's Bubble

This might be a good time to refresh our memories on this story. Back in
the golden days of 2007, candidate Barack Obama dazzled a techie
audience with his answer to a technology question:

'Asked by Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt what the most efficient
way to sort a million 32-bit integers is, Obama said the wrong way would
be the "bubble sort method," which is a basic but inefficient method for
sorting numbers. "You answered the question correctly," Schmidt said.'

Anybody who's ever taken even a basic programming class knows that the
"bubble sort" algorithm - which sorts a list of numbers by comparing
each successive term to its neighboring terms - is the easiest to
understand and to code, but the least efficient way of sorting a long
list. I'm no computer geek, but even I could have told you that much.

But Obama had the gift for saying the right words at the right time to
the right people. In the minds of the geeks at Google, he was "one of them".

And now? Is Obama still "Google-like" now?

Local Update

So I went out for a walk on Dolores, turned up 17th Street, and found
myself swimming upstream against a stampede of young, mostly
professional-looking men and women, some wearing colored armbands. Some
were carrying maps apparently printed for the occasion.

One cheery, heavyset, tattooed young women stopped me and asked for
directions, and for help in re-tying her armband. She pulled me over
into an alley; apparently she didn't want to be caught cheating. The
situation struck me as comical, and I imagined a police cruiser slowing
down for a look at what must have appeared to be a couple of junkies
getting a fix.

A few minutes later I ran into a couple of young guys, both equipped
with armbands and maps but apparently in less of a hurry than the rest.
(I gathered that it was a race of some sort, and wondered if it was a
scavenger hunt of the sort they have in Portland.) I stopped them and
asked them about it - was it some sort of game? From what I was able to
get from them, it was an annual event that had been started a few years
ago, and had something to do with zombies.

I gleaned the name "Journey to the End of Night" from the maps, and it
turns out the thing is "a free street game of epic proportion run by
volunteer masterminds in cities around the world. It is a race/chase
through city streets at night." [http://ichaseyou.com/]

OK, so there it is. Well, you never know what you're going to run into
when you step outside.