International Affairs

International Affairs

Volunteers do tech to help out Haiti

765937975_trVwk-S Hey, really cool stuff is happening across the US, where technology people worked together to people useful tech for the people of Haiti.

Check out the story on

UPDATE: CNN now has the story.

Over two hundred volunteers are getting together to build useful systems to help out, working with the Sunlight Foundation and CrisisCamp.

“In the hours after the earthquake in Haiti, two primary observations within the tech community became clear," said Katie Stanton from the Department of State. "First, there are many well-intentioned projects in development by people all over the world - this information and these applications need to be consolidated so we can share it with those on the ground. The second is there is no central location for a need and have list  — essentially a Craigslist for Haiti.”

This is a work in progress, a really good example of people working together, over the 'Net, to help others out.

Disclaimer: I'm on the board of Sunlight.


How many divisions does Google have?

A Sunday New York Times headline asks: Can Google Beat China? The answer might be seen in a paraphrase of Joe Stalin’s historic quip: How many divisions does Google have?

Last week, before the Google kerfuffle, the Times complained: “As China has flooded the world with exports, it has edged out suppliers from other developing countries. This was bad enough when the world economy was growing briskly.” Now China’s strategy is doing considerably more harm, they say.


Time to play hardball with China

Google did the right thing yesterday when it said enough is enough to the Chinese government.

Chinese military assets launched a coordinated cyber-attack on Google and about 30 other multinational, mostly American companies over the last couple of weeks, probing into their databases and their computer systems.

There were reports that the Chinese were looking for information on human-rights activists, but in actuality, they were looking to steal intellectual property from American companies.


Haiti vis-à-vis healthcare reform and the bankers

The president's image purveyors were quick to remind us yesterday that he spent a very many hours bouncing between endless White House meetings. His chief executive concentration was constantly switched back and forth from the huge obstacles still confronting the final push for healthcare legislation and, of course, the unimaginable disaster in Haiti.

Surely, as he shuffled from one room to the other, he could not ignore the context, the relative magnitude of each. Maybe we should all take a moment to think about that.


Ron Christie and amateur hour

We have just finished eight years of amateur hours, so my brother Ron Christie knows whereof he speaks, in a sense.

For example: we should have killed bin Laden at Tora Bora, but didn't, because neocon amateurs had another, mistaken, war to fight. We had won the Afghan war, but neocon amateurs gave that away, too, for which we pay the price very dearly today.


The value of life

An intriguing moral drama is playing out in Israel. A young Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, was captured and has been held in seclusion by Hamas for years. Hamas proposes that they exchange the release of Schalit for the release by Israel of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Such a proposed trade would be ludicrous in most civilized places in the world, but Israel has agreed to comparable exchanges in the past.

Those who approved such prior exchanges, and advocate it again now, plead on the basis of humanity. Schalit’s mother argues that her son is the son of Israel and asks, how her country can “lay all the problems of the Middle East on our son’s narrow shoulders.” Placing a unique value on one of Israel’s children is what prompted prior disproportionate exchanges, and reflects admirably on Israel’s policy of humanity.


Is America the new Tibet? What happened in Copenhagen …

Those who look for meaning in swirling things in the sky will find them, especially on Winter Solstice. But the older rabbis tell us to look beneath the surface to find essentials, and what happened beneath the surface at Copenhagen is worth reporting. It was a modest nightmare, like one of those unsettling dreams like you are walking on the edge of a cliff, or strolling in public to suddenly realize you are naked, or that you go to your office and someone has taken your chair away. That’s what happened to America in Copenhagen. The new world order came together and they forgot to set a chair for Obama.


Time to take Iran’s nuclear program out

I don’t understand the world’s leadership these days when it comes to Iran and its growing nuclear capabilities.

Check that — I understand Russia and China — they want whatever the West does not want. But setting those totalitarian regimes aside for the moment, is anyone other than perhaps Israel willing to stand up and offer more than diplomatically neutered threats to the Iranians, that if they don’t fix their nuclear program, we will, the military way?


Sports and nation-building

If the snowstorm grounds your travel this weekend, or you just need a break from the healthcare debate, go see "Invictus," the new film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon about the 1995 South African rugby team. What’s remarkable about "Invictus" is that it isn't a sports film as much as it’s a nation-building film. The term nation-building recalls America’s failures in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish nationhood from another continent, but this film reminds us that new political orders can emerge with brave national (internal) leadership, even in the darkest and most oppressive corners of the world.


Fidel hearts Barack

According to The Associated Press (and I am not making this up), Cuba’s dictator loves Barack Obama.

“Fidel Castro appears to have a fascination with the American leader that would make Obama Girl jealous, writing obsessively not only about his politics, but of his youth and vigor. And unlike with past American heads-of-state — he slammed President George W. Bush as a genocidal drunk — Castro seems to genuinely like the fresh face in Washington.”