Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I awoke this morning to hear oddly juxtaposed news stories on National Public Radio (NPR).

Firstly, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems were criticized for their uncomfortable compliance with Chinese censorship laws by the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations and the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat said, "Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace", and went on, "I don't know how your corporate leadership sleeps at night".

This criticism in itself seems a little strange in the light of Mr Bush's recent visit to China to urge improvements in human rights and political freedom. Oh, let's not forget he also went over there to discuss the $200bn trade deficit with China and to secure and order for 70 Boeings ($4bn). Before his visit a priest was jailed for 3 years for printing unauthorized Bibles and 30 protestors were detained in a church. Perhaps this is something to overlook when you've 70 boeings under your arm.

So, clearly human right abuses make China a tricky to deal with. How uncomfortable.

Later the news refocused on US Human Rights abuses as the UN published a report calling for Guantanamo Bay to be closed. Holding people without trial, and treatment amounting to torture were cited. Kofi Annan later supported calls to close Guantanamo.

The Whitehouse later rejected this report. A Pentagon spokesman said earlier in the week that prisoners were treated humanely. This reassurance, the same week that new pictures of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib hit the headlines.

There has certainly been an interesting juxtaposition of news this week. In terms of US security, I'm sure a cheap way of improving the current situation would be to shut Guantanamo Bay, or at least formally charge detainees. Perhaps that would also cut some slack for the US troops in the middle east.


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