US bans students from “blacklisted” countries from getting a free education

dumb – does not accomplish much of anything except make US look bad.

Hummus For Thought

I’m following a Coursera course entitled “Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World” and just received a rather odd email. All students from Syria, Sudan, Iran and Cuba will no longer be able to access Coursera. As some of you may know, Coursera is an online website that offers free courses from many of the world’s top universities.

Here’s the email, which can also be viewed on the Course’s main page.


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Dear AllI write this email under protest and with a considerable degree of anger and sadness. Few things illustrate the bone-headedness, short-sightedness, and sheer chauvinism of the political structure of the United States better than the extent to which…

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Interview with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Von der Leyen: The main focus will be on Mali. Already, the Bundeswehr is training African soldiers in Mali and is assisting in the establishment of an army. Currently, the maximum number allowed by the mandate is 180 troops, 99 soldiers are there. We can strengthen this engagement and our allies, the French first and foremost, expect as much. I can imagine increasing the mandate to 250. In addition, European Union foreign ministers last week cleared the way for a Central Africa mission. Now we have to ensure transparency regarding this mission. The chancellor, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and I completely agree that it should not become a German combat operation. But the Bundeswehr, with its MedEvac Airbus for example, possesses the special capability of rapidly treating and evacuating the wounded. Should no other ally be able to make this capability available, we should offer to do so. A precondition for such a mission, however, is that the Bangui airport be secured. It is also clear that an expansion of the Mali mission and the aid for Central Africa would each require a parliamentary mandate. Ultimate control of the Bundeswehr lies with parliament.

via Interview with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Interview with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen – SPIEGEL ONLINE

“I guess, I will just never feel comfortable about Germany thinking it needs to look after its interests with its army in Africa.”

Von der Leyen: The main focus will be on Mali. Already, the Bundeswehr is training African soldiers in Mali and is assisting in the establishment of an army. Currently, the maximum number allowed by the mandate is 180 troops, 99 soldiers are there. We can strengthen this engagement and our allies, the French first and foremost, expect as much. I can imagine increasing the mandate to 250. In addition, European Union foreign ministers last week cleared the way for a Central Africa mission. Now we have to ensure transparency regarding this mission. The chancellor, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and I completely agree that it should not become a German combat operation. But the Bundeswehr, with its MedEvac Airbus for example, possesses the special capability of rapidly treating and evacuating the wounded. Should no other ally be able to make this capability available, we should offer to do so. A precondition for such a mission, however, is that the Bangui airport be secured. It is also clear that an expansion of the Mali mission and the aid for Central Africa would each require a parliamentary mandate. Ultimate control of the Bundeswehr lies with parliament.

via Interview with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Avian Flu Diary: Korea: Migratory Birds Likely Source Of H5N8 Outbreak – Government spin?

A committee of experts announced Tuesday that it assumes migratory birds were responsible for this year’s outbreak of avian influenza.

The dynamics-investigation committee of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (QIA) said the H5N8 strain of bird flu was likely introduced to Korea by migratory birds because the viral subtype had not been found in Korea before.

“The highly pathogenic avian influenza that broke out in Korea in the past was the H5N1 strain, nor the H5N8,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement based on the committee’s findings.

via Avian Flu Diary: Korea: Migratory Birds Likely Source Of H5N8 Outbreak.

(Whose interests are served by such a report in Korea by a Korean research group. The drum beat coming out of Korea since this outbreak began has been to blame it on migratory birds without a word as to how they may have been infected. Poultry farms in Korea want to be sure they get no blame and are not put on a don’t import from list. What conditions facilitate the breeding and mutation of the virus? Large farms and live poultry markets with less than favorable sanitation.)

Alicia Silverstone Supports Peace Silk – Look to the Stars

Alicia Silverstone Supports Peace Silk

\”According to PETA, 3,000 silkworms are killed to make every pound of silk,\” says actress Alicia Silverstone.

This is because the silkworms are gassed, steamed or boiled before they emerge from their cocoons as moths. Preventing the moths from cutting through the cocoons allows manufacturers to harvest long, single strands of silk.

Silverstone supports peace silk, the process by which the silkworm is allowed to live out its full life cycle.

“Peace silk is woven by hand by fair trade producers in India,” says Silverstone. “This cruelty-free silk is sourced from the cocoons of the wild Eri moth. The process does not involve touching or harming the moths, nor does it require keeping them in captivity. Rather, their cocoons are collected from the forest after the moths emerge and fly away.”

via Alicia Silverstone Supports Peace Silk – Look to the Stars.

Israeli forces stop Palestinian premier’s convoy for third time | Maan News Agency

On January 14, Israeli police officers stopped Hamdallah\’s convoy twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

The first time was near the Ramallah area village of Turmusayya.

A heated argument broke out between Hamdallah and Israeli officers at that time, and as a result the prime minister swore at an Israeli officer calling him \”a dog standing in occupied territory.\”

Hamdallah did not leave until an officer apologized to him.

In response, Israeli police said Hamdallah\’s convoy was stopped because it was driving \”recklessly and endangering other road users.\”

Twelve hours later, the convoy was stopped again on its way back to Nablus.

via Israeli forces stop Palestinian premier’s convoy for third time | Maan News Agency.

Current H7N9 wave rivals last spring’s case total | CIDRAP

China\’s steady rise in H7N9 avian flu cases continued over the past 3 days, with 14 new cases from five provinces, as the latest test results in poultry showed a conflicting picture of the virus on farms, including positive samples found today in birds sent to Hong Kong.

The fresh round of infections—coming at a pace matching last year\’s peak—could soon eclipse last spring\’s outbreak totals and come as poultry trade and consumption are high in the lead-up to Lunar New Year celebrations later this week.

via Current H7N9 wave rivals last spring’s case total | CIDRAP.