After a recent NATO air strike killed five rebel fighters in Libya, opposition fighters have reportedly begun painting the roofs of their vehicles bright pink as a message to NATO bombers: “we’re on your side, do not kill us.” (via Danger Room)
Here’s one odd effect a government shutdown would have: NASA would likely have to scrub the launch of space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission, currently scheduled for April 29. If Republicans and Democrats cannot agree to budget terms by midnight tonight, Washington will effectively run out of money and the government will close. If that happens, according to a NASA memo distributed today, only operations critical to protect life and assets would continue. So, operations to support the astronauts on the International Space Station would go on during a shutdown, as would any operations critical to prevent the loss or damage of NASA assets. And if a launch were in progress when the shutdown went into effect, that launch would continue. But for new shuttle launches, and other new projects: an indefinite delay.
Boing Boing reader lokayukta says, “India is going through its ‘Egypt moment,’ and for our version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, we have the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, where a 72 year old social acitivist named Anna Hazare is fasting ’til death’ to force the government to pass a comprehensive anti-corruption legislation, the Jan Lokpal Bill. The movement has already caught fire in hundreds of cities around India.”
Declan McCullagh at CNET reports that many federal Web sites will likely go offline if the government shuts down Friday night. “A 16-page memo (PDF) to federal agencies says their Web sites may stay online only in a small number of situations, including tax collection and handling ‘exempted’ activities such as payments and other functions that are paid for by previous annual budgets.”
“NBC White House reporter Savannah Guthrie told her viewers that sources had heard the president label the military action in Libya a ‘turd sandwich’ in a closed-door meeting.” (abc.net.au, via Sean Bonner)
“Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet.”Interactive map here, article here, in Die Zeit (English). A related New York Times item is here.
People who enjoy drinking and driving probably don’t have much time to download PhantomALERT from the iTunes App Store, because a group of US senators have complained to Apple about apps that alert drivers about DUI checkpoints.
The CEO of the company that makes that app claims it’s completely legal, saying that police often advertise the same checkpoint locations before they’re set up, warning drivers to be careful in certain areas, and never to drink and drive. A police officer in Oregon, according to ComputerWorld, is pretty indifferent to the whole argument. “If things like these apps increase awareness on the part of drivers to slow down and drive to the signs posted and the conditions,” he said, “that helps people stay alert and drive safely.”
(FOR BILL C-393 STALLING UPDATES SEE BOTTOM OF POST: LAST UPDATE ON FRI, MARCH 25th) A few weeks ago, I was lecturing during a global issues course (ASIC200), when it became immediately clear that on some occasions, a solitary single facepalm is simply not enough. In fact, there seemed to be many things and events in this world that would merit many many simultaneous facepalms, or as we’ve been calling it in class, a MEGAFACEPALM! Anyway, when I looked it up on the internet, there didn’t seem to be any pictures of large groups of people doing the facepalm, and so I thought, why not make our own? And so after a few clicks on my camera, and a handy “Make your own motivational poster” website, here is how it turned out: Of course, then the big question was for what occasion should we bestow this honour – this first unaltered photographic MEGAFACEPALM image? Well, I had a chat with the class the other day, and it seemed that the issue of Bill C-393 seemed like a worthy cause. Now, if you’re late to the game and need a primer on this Bill C-393, then read this boingboing post and then come back here for the MEGAFACEPALM lowdown.
[Video Link] Veena Malik is a Pakistani actress who appeared on the very popular Indian TV show Bigg Boss (the Indian version of Big Brother). In the clip above, a mullah tells her she brought shame on Pakistan with her behavior on the show, and that 100% of Pakistanis agree with him. The mullah also admits he didn’t watch the show himself, but knows all of this to be true.
Veena responds by pretty much mopping up the floor with him. She points out out how her religion backs up her actions, where he’s in violation of the same rules he’s taking her to task for. She also says if he wishes to defend Islam, there are countless targets more deserving of close inspection, but here he is instead wasting his time complaining about an actress.
It’s fantastic. The world needs to see more of this. Go Veena!
For the interest of discussion, I’ve made the above visual aid for members of Canada’s Senate, since this is the week that they have a chance to pass a Bill that “aims to make it easier for Canada to export affordable, life-saving, generic medicines to developing countries.” I wrote about this Bill C-393 earlier, stating how the right choice (passing the bill and not killing the bill) is obvious. But then it occurred to me that if the decision was so obvious, then why is there so much “push back” from the pharmaceutical industry (as well as the Harper government). It turns out the reason appears to be about Bill C-393 representing a trend that “could potentially” lead to a loss of control over the status quo. This being the status quo that provides the pharmaceutical industry with an inordinate amount of lobbying power to set prices; a business model that values huge profits above innovation; and something that they are so focused on protecting that even the smallest of losses must be avoided no matter the consequences. Which is simply reprehensible – because with this Bill, the consequences are not just about patent control: it’s about the livelihood of millions of people, where the decision to “kill” or “not kill” the Bill could literally be a matter of life or death. Please send an email to the Harper government by using this Avaaz link.