Category Archives: Politics: International
The US approach to Cuba stopped making sense decades ago. Opening exchanges with Poland helped dislodge the Communist regime; the same is likely to happen to Cuba in the future. Maintaining the embargo with Cuba has done more to empower the dictatorial Castro regime than anything else we could do. So I’m all for the resumption of diplomatic relations because it furthers US interests, human rights, and the humanitarian cause of reuniting separated families. It likely will further the cause of freedom in Cuba.
But there’s another reason why this is good: the revanchist faction among Cuban-Americans is overwhelmingly Republican. It’s good politics for a President to reward his friends and ignore — or punish — his enemies. So this is good politics for Obama: serve the US national interest and hit his enemies at the same time.
I hope it’s a sign of what we can hope for in the next two years from Obama: No more Mr. Nice Guy.
(PS. I don’t entirely agree about the “waters around China” because we have a treaty obligation to protect Japan against aggression.)
TL/DR: Why is al Jazeera’s feed absent from HTC’s Blinkfeed? It’s a mystery.
After writing up my review of the HTC One (M8) the other day, I thought maybe I ought to give Blinkfeed a try.
For those of you who don’t have an HTC phone — and it’s a somewhat specialist taste if reports of declining market share are to believed — Blinkfeed is an HTC-curated/controlled news feed (now available to all Android users). It provides an elegant magazine-like interface made up of user-selected content from among the news sources provided by HTC, and also from one’s social media. Most of the major social media choices you would expect seem to be on the available list, but the provision of news sources is somewhat erratic. There is something from just about every part of the globe, but often not much; there are two wire services, and Huffington Post but no US newspapers. If the US choices are rather spotty in news, they are somewhat heavier in sports and entertainment and various other web-based frills. Many of the news feeds on offer seem rather heavy on gorgeous photos, particularly of landscapes and animals, which I think skews the content of the feed somewhat…although as my test is only a couple of days old it might also reflect that August is the silly season for many news media.
The good news is that Blinkfeed’s options include news from many regions in their home language, so I can get the French news is in French, which I like. And even though you get other languages by changing your “edition,” which isn’t totally intuitive, it’s possible to meld feeds from different languages, so I don’t have to have my US news in French just to get the French news in French.
The bad news is that Blinkfeed is a closed system: I can’t add an RSS feed of my choice, an option that would have made Blinkfeed actually useful.
But, at least, though I, there’s Al Jazeera. Given all the turmoil in the Middle East at present, I thought it would be useful part of my media diet. Except, at least for the last three days, there isn’t any Al Jazeera in my feed. And when I go to the al Jazeera button all it says is “NO CONTENT Pull down to refresh.” Swiping down just repeats the update/nothing-happens cycle.
A Google search got me nowhere. There are plenty of links in which HTC brags about all the content deals it has signed. (I’m guessing people pay HTC for the privilege of being in their sandbox, which is why it’s such an anemic little sandbox.) And even some about HTC adding al Jazeera. But there’s nothing I can find in which HTC says it has dropped al Jazeera.
So I called it in to HTC customer support. I’d had a very good experience with them the last time I called, and no good deed goes unpunished. The support guy I got was understandably skeptical at first. He had me remove everything else from my feed. He had me reboot the phone. No change. Finally he put me on hold for a long static-filled wait. When he came back he explained he’d “gone to the lab” and gotten one of their HTC One (M8) test models, and replicated my problem.
The good news: he now totally believed me.
The bad news: he didn’t have any better ideas than I did about what to do about it.
Apparently, there’s nothing on the HTC internal system about them dropping al Jazeera. No one on the floor at the help center had heard anything like that. So all he could suggest is that I call back tomorrow during regular business hours and ask to be escalated — apparently the escalation team doesn’t work late at night.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll find out if this is a case of broken RSS (or whatever) feed, or a case of political censorship. Right now it’s just a bug report.
The government of Vietnam is controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Strange, therefore, to read that Vietnam Airlines, the flag carrier, wholly owned by the government of Vietnam, has a business class featuring better seats and food, a private lounge, and a private bus to take you to the plane.
I suppose one could spin this so many different way: VietNam was never really communist it was anti-colonialsist; communism is a failed strategy, here’s the proof; socialism, ditto; fill-in-the-blank has never been tried; virus theory of capitalism; there were always classes under Communism now it’s more open; and doubtless more.
More evidence for Crane Brinton’s thesis that revolutions tend to occur in periods of rising (but frustrated) expectations.
Previously: Guy Fawkes Day Musings (November 5, 2007).