Friday, June 1, 2012

Venezuela Bans Private Gun Ownership

Venezuela has announced a new law that makes owning a gun illegal if you are a private citizen.

Under the new law only the military, police, and licensed security will be allowed to have firearms.

An amnesty period, of unknown length, is in currently in place for all citizens to turn in any firearms that they might own.

Once the period is up, anyone found possessing a gun will be jailed for the offense.

Legislators say that they voted for the law in order to cut down on the murder rate in Venezuela. Over 18,000 murders were committed during 2011.

But President Hugo Chavez's government is completely honest about what their goal is, stating that eventually they will disarm all civilians.

Opponents state that it is further attempt by Chavez to continue his dictatorship. They also point out that violence has continuously grown worse under his reign.

IDF Service for All Israelis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face a struggle as he seeks to expand who is called to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Members of the IDF have led calls for reforms that they be joined by all Israelis in defending the country.

Officially all able bodied men and women age 17-49 must serve three (men) or two (women) years of active service, and then up to a month each year in the reserves. However in reality two groups have been given exemptions.

Haredi Jews are very orthodox, and do not take part in the military service. Their argument is that their full time study of sacred Jewish texts adds to Israel's defense.

They likely will be the greater challenge, as some of their number have already pledged to protest, and go to jail rather than serve. Their promised mass demonstrations will hurt the Prime Minister abroad.

The larger group makes up more than twenty percent of Israel's population, Israeli Arabs. They were given the exemption by former Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, who stated it was unfair morally for Arabs to be forced to fight against their fellow Arabs. Many, especially Beduins, though do volunteer already. With their addition, come security concerns, mostly due to the large numbers of previously unknown individuals that they will add.

Due to the Arabs lack of automatic service, many have come to view them as second class citizens. However, international ideas that all Arab Israelis would rather be part of Palestine have been repeatedly shown as false. Time and time again Arab Israelis have fought not just for Israel, but against the idea of their being separated from their beloved country.

In the long term Israel can only grow more unified by the inclusion of all into the IDF. Already viewed as having the best trained military in the world, the increased diversity and greater numbers will only make it stronger.

International Cooperation in The Drug War

Since the beginning of 2012 US drug enforcement agencies have been partnering with their counterparts throughout most of the Americas to stifle drug trafficking.

Already the affects have been seen, as any all flights by drug traffickers have been targeted, and arrests have been made as soon as planes have landed.

Thanks to the fading out of the US in Middle East conflicts, money has been able to flow in other directions, and so the drug war has seen a vast increase in US active involvement.

In one raid, the US worked with Guatemalan and Honduran forces in the seizure of a large amount of cocaine.

The US is continuing to press other governments to further their involvement, pooing intelligence so that the crackdown can become even more effective.

Governments that help have gained extra funding, specifically for schools and police training, from the US.

However, some members of Latin American governments are expressing their displeasure with the arrangements. They disapprove of what they see as growing US control of their own resources.

Concerns also have been raised, about an increase in violence in countries that are fighting the drug trade. But most recognize this as a stepping stone in a war.

Countries that have been fighting the trade for years are seeing declines in the violence as drug runners consider those places just too dangerous to try. Some see this as a sign that the war is truly being won.

Hewlett Fire Could Affect Ft. Collins Water Supply

A survey completed by The Forest Service's Burn Area Emergency Response, or BAER, Team has determined that the Hewlett Fire will affect the Poudre River.

The fire, which burned more than 7,000 acres to the north west of Fort Collins, Colorado.

According to the survey, increased erosion on the burned areas will add sediment to the river, that could add a smoky taste.

Extra purification procedures should be able to handle the lower quality of the water. The city also has the option of adding water from the Horsetooth Reservoir.

It will take around five years for enough growth to take place for the area to be stabilized from erosion.

The Forest Service is also looking into removing expected weeds and burnt trees from the area, especially along hiking trails. Aerial seeding and mulching are also options being considered to speed the recovery of the forest.

Google Applies for Domain Names

Google announced that they have applied for various domain names.
In 2008, ICANN announced a program to expand the number of generic TLDs (think .com, .org, .edu), developed through its bottom-up, multi-stakeholder process, in which we participate. Given this expansion process, we decided to submit applications for new TLDs, which generally fall into four categories:
  • Our trademarks, like .google
  • Domains related to our core business, like .docs
  • Domains that will improve user experience, such as .youtube, which can increase the ease with which YouTube channels and genres can be identified
  • Domains we think have interesting and creative potential, such as .lol

Domain names are run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an independent agency which controls and runs them. They stopped taking applications for new domain names, after Google's announcement.

At this point there are less than two dozen domains available, .com being used by about fifty percent of web sites. Any and all new ones will be listed June 13.

Some regulators, from various governments, have requested that ICANN not allow any more domains, at all. However, internet freedom groups support the expansion, praising that it will allow for more diversity.