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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The little differences 

A BBC story today illustrates one of the many differences that exist between Europe and America, despite their common roots.

The most infamous idiot in France, Jean-Marie Le Pen, said:

"In France at least, the German occupation was not especially inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses - inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km."
That's plain stupid. However, here in America, it's not a crime to say something stupid.

In Europe, it apparently is.
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Darfur 

While I'm on the subject of human tragedy, PBS Frontline had an outstanding segment about Darfur by reporter Amy Costello on tonight's broadcast. There's an equally informative web page for the program, with video to come next Monday. I highly, highly recommend watching it if you're interested in the situation in Darfur. There are a few particular enlightening moments, including an admission of government control of the Janjaweed. I also didn't realize that Egypt had contributed to the African Union peacekeeping force. I'm somewhat surprised that an Arab neighbor of Sudan would do so, but right there on Frontline was an Egyptian soldier acting as an interpreter, wearing a green AU armband and beret.

But in the big picture, the AU effort notwithstanding, why the world isn't doing more to help is something I'll never understand.
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Admin notes 

Wow... So I've been busy and haven't posted in a while. You know how the holidays are. On the heels of the New Year came a bit of a medical emergency for my father. A heart attack, followed by quadruple bypass surgery. It was successful and he's doing great, coming home tomorrow. But that has, obviously, eaten up a lot of my time.

And now something else will be eating up my time. I'm about to be ordered to a couple months of active duty to assist U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) with the military's earthquake/tsunami relief effort. I won't be in the action, but rather in Pearl Harbor helping with the coordination and planning of the whole thing. I've been paying close attention to the great tragedy in south Asia, and when I received a call for volunteers in my inbox, I had to reply. I have the skills PACOM is looking for, so it was a no-brainer. Hopefully I'll be able to do my small part to help out.

It will be nice to be in Hawaii in the winter, of course, but I actually had a bunch of winter plans here in Maine like skiing, hiking, camping... so I'll miss that. Oh well, there's always next winter. The people of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, etc. can't wait for help. And while my presence isn't likely to impact them on an individual level, it will at least reduce the burden on the overworked active duty staff at PACOM. And if someone has more time to devote to relief planning, and more time to rest and stay focused, then maybe the end product will be more effective. I just want to do my part, that's all.

I'll post more here as I am able.
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