Pros and Kons
In recent days Japan’s disaster recovery has received much comparison to previous efforts after disaster. This has prompted speculation about why Japan’s disaster has not created the same rush of support in the same way as Haiti, the Indian Ocean tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina. Yet agencies have been active in soliciting donations; such evaluations by total dollars do not do justice to what has been a strong outpouring of support. At Harvard, this week has seen concerted efforts of fundraising and events that conclude tomorrow with the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association Benefit Concert. Our community, and many others across the country and globe, has demonstrated admirable unity and compassion in identifying with the Japanese people and seeking to help them.
Yesterday, WikiLeaks announced it was under cyber attack. The Distributed Denial-of-Service has been popular in recent months; most notably, government websites in the United States and South Korea came under this type of attack in the summer of 2009. U.S. cyber experts learned from that DDoS assault, and they may have put it to their own use yesterday (debating the ethics of such an attack is a worthwhile endeavor for another time). It would certainly not be surprising, as the nation seems uniquely under pressure from Assange and his team.
The “air freight bomb plot” of last week shows that such fears—although highly unfortunate—may still be justified, as on-plane hijackers have been the biggest perceived threat recently . National Public Radio touched off a controversy by firing Juan Williams for saying that he felt nervous when he sees people who are noticeably Muslim on a flight. Williams is certainly not the only American to feel that way. But it turns out that Al-Qaeda and other organizations may be moving to a different tactic, packaging explosives and shipping them on flights. Logistics giants such as FedEx and UPS have become masters of sending packages quickly around the world, but that connectivity might have created new difficulties for counter-terrorism.
The Beirut International Film Festival canceled, or at least delayed, the screening of a docudrama—“Green Days”—that provides a close-up look at the protests and government brutality that accompanied Iran’s 2009 presidential election. In other words, the same election that proved a dubious confirmation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s power. Hana Makhmalbaf’s “Green Days” already aired at well-known film festivals in Toronto, Copenhagen, and Venice, where the film won “The Bravery Prize.” The reason the film has won this prize and others stems from its willingness to stand up to the Iranian government, even including amateur film of the public demonstrations during the elections.