United states of the third world

Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes or tsunamis make often a disaster. However, hurricane Katrina was very special. Everything happened as if USA was an underdeveloped country. Flash-back on this catastrophe.

According to the Louisiana evacuation plan, evacuation was mainly left up to individual citizens to find their own way out of the city, even if it was known that many residents of New Orleans lacked cars. It is also believed that many citizens, having survived previous hurricanes, did not anticipate the impending catastrophe and chose to ride out the storm. Even so, a 2000 census revealed that 27% of New Orleans households, amounting to approximately 120,000 people, were without privately-owned transportation. Additionally, at 38%, New Orleans has one of the highest poverty rates in the United States. These factors may have prevented many people from being able to evacuate on their own. Consequentially most of those stranded in the city are the poor, the elderly, and the sick. It’s a shame that US government hasn’t organized an evacuation, with military or firefighting forces! Evacuation was left up to citizens, like in ‘Survivor’ reality show. If you are rich and with a good health, you will be safe; else, America doesn’t really matter of you, you have to die!

On August 28, as Hurricane Katrina grew into a category 5 storm that had yet to make landfall, some « refuges of last resort » were established for citizens who could not leave the city, including the massive and now-famous Louisiana Superdome. On September 1, it was counted that as many as 60,000 people had gathered at the Superdome for evacuation, having remained there in increasingly difficult circumstances. Air conditioning, electricity, and running water all failed, making for very unsanitary and uncomfortable conditions. In the Superdome have been widespread reports of murders, beatings, robberies etc. The Superdome was only completely evacuated by September 6.

But, the complete anarchy wasn’t in the Superdome, it was worse outside! Shortly after the hurricane ended on August 30, some residents of New Orleans who remained in the city, including police officers, began looting stores : drug, food, convenience, clothing, jewelry stores etc. Several shootings occured between police and New Orleans residents. Thousands of national guard and federal troops were mobilized and sent to Louisiana. When I saw this on the news, national guards, refugees, gunmen, misery, looters, I found that is was looking like Iraq. In fact, when the hurricane was on Louisiana and Mississipi, most of national guards of those states were precisely in Iraq. Louisiana was looking both like Western America in cowboys times and a third world country, but… it was in USA, a modern country in the 21st century.

All over the USA, people were surprised by the power of Katrina. In the same time, the USA were drowning worldwide criticism for failing to adopt the greatest international agreement for the reduction of some greenhouse gases, the Kyoto Protocol, which has been accepted by nearly every other country. Why forget that a connection could exist between pollution and a category 5 storm? The US alone accounted for 36.1% of worldwide greenhouse emissions in 1990, so that the USA is the world’s biggest polluter. Emissions in America have continued to rise and are now 11% higher than in 1990. All searchers on environmental issues tell that global warming is the result of a strengthening greenhouse effect caused primarily by man-made increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. And this global warming provokes a change of the climate models, for example, it increases the power of storms. US people should think about it.

All those events seemed to happen without any control of US government and administration. But all that Bush administration did, was all nonsense. Bush said that we must pray God to help the victims. The United States had been reluctant during several days to accept donations and aid from foreign countries other than Canada and the United Kingdom, even if France and Russia were one of the first nations to offer aid. However, this policy was reversed, and as the reports of damage grew more grim, the United States has slowly started to accept the foreign aid… a week after the disaster. As the military and rescue services regained control over New Orleans, Bush made restrictions on the activity of the media to hide to citizens his failure in the disaster management.

So, with Katrina we saw a very big disaster but also a side of the American society and the way in which Bush administration govern its country. I can’t end this article without telling that I want to express my sincere condolences to the 1080 victims and their family. I hope that the early French city of New Orleans will be rebuilt quickly and that we will have soon an happy Mardi Gras like in the past !

Michael Jackson found not guilty

Michael Jackson leaves the Santa Barbara County Courthouse after being found not guilty on all ten counts of child molestation in Santa Maria, California June 13, 2005.

The only thing I could say, is that Mr. Jackson was the ideal victim for rumors or accusations of pedophily.

First, he says at the TV and in the news that he likes sleeping with children. In fact, Michael Jackson is known as being fond of children, and, apart from having his own, he has had friendships with a number of other children, ranging from disadvantaged children to child celebrities – including the actor Macaulay Culkin. He has invited many groups of children to his big ranch and has sponsored a variety of charitable activities. His Neverland Ranch (California, USA), named after the magical kingdom Neverland featured in the children’s story Peter Pan, is a real little amusement park for children. His passion for children could perhaps be explained by the lack of « child’s life » that he had himself. Born in 1958, he was the lead singer of The Jackson 5, who signed their first recording contract with the local Steeltown label in 1967. Mr. Jackson doesn’t count for his love for children, so that he made some eccentric things, for example he helped develop a Sega video game ‘Michael Jackson in Moonwalker’ in 1990 where the player controlled the ‘king of pop’ in an effort to save the world’s children from an evil criminal mastermind. He denies having had sex with any of the children who slept in the same bed as him, but the fact of sleeping with children seems inevitably suspicious.

A second point is his eccentric lifestyle, who can disturb a lot of conservative people in the USA. His curious appearance, his physical operations, his strange skin, his angelic voice makes him very suspect. Perhaps there is a little bit hate against his eccentricity too.

Anyway, his passion of children, his eccentricity and his legendary fortune, makes him a very good subject for a trial. I don’t know the truth, but, for the Courth, he’s not guilty. I’m satisfied about this decision, cause the trial wasn’t equal. The prosecutor was partial – he was very aggressive against Jackson in his interviews – and the accusers had ‘strange’ arguments (false?). If he’s not guilty, all those rumors, accusations and the four-month trial have probably strongly hurted the artist. Could he continue his career?

PS: for francophiles, a wordplay : ‘Michael Jackson a été blanchi’ (blanchi means both cleared and whitened).

Viva China

We can find numerous talks in the news about the import of Chinese textiles: the USA and the European Union want to apply limitations to these imports. They seem seem to have just discovered that clothes made in China could be found everywhere. Though it is problematic for the Western industry, I tend to disagree the way tough it is presented in the news.

To begin with, since I was born, almost all sneakers shoes, sweat-shirts and shirts I wear have been made in Asia. Strange, then, to make such a fuss over it only from now on. A lot of people are complaining in Europe and America, but they seem not to think about the millions of Chinese people who are then able to find a job, and a better standard of living because of this. So then, what’s the problem? Racism? Jealousy? Could be. I see that rich Western countries are afraid of the arousal of new countries. They’re afraid to have to share their money. They have to remember that they have abused of these countries during the last centuries to become very rich.

I don’t have the right solution, both to protect the textile industry of western countries and to allow China to better its economy. But, don’t be afraid and don’t think : ‘Chinese people want to steal my money’. Please, be humble and not too aggressive towards Chinese people, who just want a better life for them and their children.

When Linus Torvalds goes wrong

In February of 2002, Linus Torvalds (the Linux kernel creator and project coordinator) started using the freeware BitKeeper to manage the mainline kernel. BitKeeper is a software tool for revision control (configuration management etc.) of computer source code, made by BitMover. It is a closed-source product. Some competing tools such as CVS, GNU Arch or Subversion were existing, but Torvalds chose BitKeeper because it was ‘the best tool for the job’.

While some core developers adopted BitKeeper, several key developers (including Alan Cox) refused to do so, citing the Bitmover licence, and voicing concern that the project was ceding some control to a proprietary developer. The decision to use BitKeeper for Linux kernel development raised a lot of protestations in the free software community. To mitigate these concerns, Bitmover added gateways which allowed limited interoperation between the Linux BitKeeper servers (maintained by Bitmover) and developers using CVS and Subversion. Even after this addition, flamewars occasionally broke out on the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML), often involving key kernel developers and Bitmover CEO Larry McVoy, who is also a Linux developer. A group went so far as to start a petition against the usage of the tool. Some wanted to ban Richard Stallman from the LKML. A warning regarding BitKeeper was sent on the Debian devel list.

On April 5th, 2005, BitMover announced that it would stop providing a version of BitKeeper free of charge to the community, the reason being alleged reverse-engineering efforts by Andrew Tridgell, a developer employed by OSDL. Some days later, Linus Torvalds reacted very fast saying that he began working on an interim solution called Git. But, this issue could have a really hard time stopping for the Linux kernel development. And Linus was warned by several people.

This is a big lesson for the free software community. This is a big ‘back-hand’ for ‘pragmatic people’ who value technical advantage above freedom and community. Please, don’t follow a charismatic leader without ask yourself if he/she’s right or not, even if he/she’s a genius. Please, don’t forget that non-free programs are dangerous. Don’t think that free software philosophy is something just for integrists, when this philosophy created your softwares and your community. If you forget it, you will encounter some bad surprises.

Dishonest and ridiculous

Fortinet is an American company which offers a variety of security products, such as firewalls or antiviruses. On its products, Fortinet claims to run the ‘FortiOS’ operating system. The project gpl-violations.org, lead by Harald Welte, uncovered that ‘FortiOS’ is using the Linux kernel and numerous other free software products that are licensed exclusively under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The problem is, Fortinet doesn’t tell anything about those softwares to their clients, and doesn’t provide the full corresponding source code and a copy of the full license text. This is a complete violation of the GNU GPL. The worse is, that Fortinet probably knew this, because they used cryptographic techniques to conceal that usage…

Thus, the gpl-violations.org project was compelled to ask the court for a preliminary injunction, banning Fortinet from distributing its products, unless they are in full compliance with the GNU GPL license conditions. The Munich district court has granted this on Apr. 14, 2005. At this point, we can think that Fortinet should keep a low profile until we forget its ‘misunderstanding’ of the GNU GPL… But, this is not the case.

After this injuction, Fortiner made a paper for his resailers and integraters to explain its meaning about the issue. This paper, in French, is very funny. It isn’t because of a lot of orthographical mistakes in the document. The person who wrote this, probably someone from the marketing service of Fortinet, doesn’t know anything about what he’s dealing with. Well, he doesn’t understand nothing. With this text, you can build a big fortune text! Some examples:

  • ‘L’organisation « projet Open Source GPL » (GNU Général Public License) a révélé de supposées enfreintes par Fortinet (UK) Ltd à la politique GPL.’ which means ‘The GPL Open Source project (GNU General Public License) revealed supposed violations by Fortinet towards GPL politics ‘.
  • ‘Le fondateur de ce projet GPL et développeur du noyau Linux Harald Welte’ (‘GPL project founder and Linux kernel developer Harald Welte‘).
  • ‘L’équipe du GPL a pris la mauvaise habitude de poursuivre systématiquement les entreprises ayant le vent en poupe et en forte croissance, comme Fortinet’ (‘The GPL team took the bad behaviour to purchase systematically dynamic companies with a strong growth, such as Fortinet‘). This sentence is very funny in French, cause ‘GPL’ means also ‘Liquefied Petroleum Gas‘, and ‘GPL team’ means more ‘an oil comapny’ than someting about free software 😉

Anyway, those terms doesn’t really mean something, there is a big confusion with the license, the free software community, the organisation gpl-violations.org and the GNU project. This document also accuse Mr. Welte of racket, which is in my viewpoint very outrageous. The only thing that Fortinet have won, is that everyone knows now that they are dishonest and ridiculous.