If London's burning, I had nothing to do with it. Yes, I'm back in the U.S.A. after my two-week vacation in the U.K. Barbara and I had a great time! Don't know when I'll go back, but I'm sure I will. Oh, and it did actually snow in England while we were there...
It's comforting to see that Western civilization isn't declining quite as quickly on the other side of the Atlantic. (Well, there's France, but...) The streets were clean, the people were polite, the trains run on time... And WOW, there are a lot of blondes running around London! Heh-heh... Two of my opposing interests, history and technology, live side by side in this city. New York may be more cutting-edge, but there is no place in the United States with such a long unbroken history.
On to my pet topic: Chechnya. If anyone were actually making a point of reading Vitriol every month, he or she would probably be quite sick and tired of hearing me rant on the subject; fortunately, that doesn't seem to be a problem. ;) But I am disgusted with the Russian government's mentality regarding Chechnya, not to mention the denial in which it's living. This ragged band of Islamic rebels is once again making a mockery of the 'mighty' Russian military. How many times can you claim to be on the verge of crushing the resistance and then suffer heavy casualties in surprise attacks by mujahideen who have been all but wiped out according to your propaganda? Putin still doesn't get it. He's not going to win this war, any more than the Russians won the last Chechen war. Even if he were to send the entire Russian military machine into Chechnya, even if he drafted every available man, he wouldn't necessarily be assured of victory. The Russian people are no longer convinced that they should be in Chechnya; the Chechen fighters, on the other hand, are unswerving in their belief that they are justified in pushing out Ivan. And I tend to agree.
I'm surprised the Muslim governments of the world don't seem to be terribly supportive of the jihad in Chechnya. I don't know if that's out of fear of Russia, or sectarian differences, or... The Taliban has voiced support for the Chechens, but most others have kept quiet on the subject. Why? I'm certainly not advocating a full-scale jihad by the entire Muslim world on the entire non-Muslim world. As an atheist, I'd be screwed no matter which religion decided to start a crusade. ;) But the Russians themselves instigated this latest war. The Moscow bombings have never been conclusively pinned on the Chechens, nor was the action in Dagestan a justification for the Russian invasion. I'd have expected more of the faithful to stand by their brothers and sisters...
Northern Ireland seems to be trying to pick up the pieces and maybe put them back together again, in a way that could work this time: good. Syria and Israel seem to be sticking stubbornly to their positions: not good. China and Taiwan are, I think, simmering down in the wake of Chen's win. And that was a real surprise. Did Beijing really think that warning the Taiwanese not to vote for the man was going to help the Communists' image? Mozambique is still in trouble. The war crimes trials in the former Yugoslav republics show that not everyone has learned the same lesson from World War II. Appalling... And no one has thought to send Zhirinovsky and Buchanan to Austria, perhaps to begin plans to run for office in the next national elections. One more Russian reference: guys, stop holding up the International Space Station, huh?
Surprisingly, Extreme Close-Up is not on Cyber Patrol's list of restricted Web sites. Probably just an oversight on someone's part. But when I saw some of the sites that are being restricted, I became a bit angry. I agree that parents who are unable to sit with their children as they surf the Web should have the option of restricting access to certain types of sites, but if someone's going to sell software that provides this service, it should be more accurate than this! This battle is about free speech, not about copyrights and intellectual property as Mattel is claiming.
I'm now going to ask you for help. Not for me, but for two friends of mine. Boge Boceski, whos wife Liljana I work with, went to visit his parents in Macedonia on January 17 of this year, a trip he's made in the past without incident. However, as he was returning to the United States in mid-February, he was detained in Austria due to documentation problems, and thanks to red tape, he has not been able to come home since. Lil has contacted Congressmen, INS, the embassy in Skopje, all to no avail. The INS office in Vermont told her that an Application for Permanent Residence can take anywhere from 400 - 460 days to process! Boge has been a U.S. resident and taxpayer for thirteen years and was never advised that there might be a problem with his residential status. It has never come up in his previous travels.
Their two young children can't comprehend what has happened to their father; they only know that they miss him and want him to come home. Meanwhile, Lil has to provide for her family on her salary alone, and she won't be able to do so forever. Elements of the U.S. government seem determined to keep a young Cuban boy in this country against the wishes of his father, yet everyone is ignoring the plight of a man who wants to come back home to America and whose entire family wants him here, too.
It won't take you more than a few minutes to write an E- or snail-mail letter and ask that this matter be cleared up for the sake of this family. Please do this. I've provided some relevant addresses below:
And, on that note, I will stop my ranting and raving for the month. TTFN - A