Twitter Announces New Mute Feature

Twitter announced on its company blog today that it will be rolling out a new feature in the coming weeks called mute, which basically means you can follow a person while not receiving any of that individual’s Tweets or Retweets in your timeline. You’ll also be opted out of any SMS or push notifications when the muted user Tweets. And, in the obligatory name of privacy, the muted user will not know that they have been muted or if you decide to unmute them.

This begs the glaringly obvious question: what is the point? If you’re following someone it’s because you have an interest in that person or what they do, either from a personal or professional standpoint. Given that, what is the value of the mute feature? It comes off almost like a “soft-block” where you’re following someone maybe as a courtesy or so as not to offend them, but you’re not really following them.

I think Twitter is a wonderful platform with a myriad of uses and ton of potential, one need not look further than when there is any breaking news story, the rate of information flow and sharing on Twitter far outpaces any other medium. So to spend time and effort on a mute feature seems silly to me when there are far better causes to put those resources toward.

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Polish Man Awakens After 19 Years In Coma

This is truly an amazing story — not mention one of many reasons why you should never count out a Pole! In 1988 railwayman Jan Grzebski was hit by a train and subsequently fell into a coma. A very long coma. But now he has woken up, and what he has found is a world entirely different from anything he had ever known.

When Grzebski fell into a coma back in 1988 the communists were still in control of Poland, and he had four children. Now, the communists are gone — after getting the boot in 1989 — and Poland is a member of the European Union; not to mention Grzebski now has 11 grandchildren.

He attributes his survival to his wife, Gertruda, as doctors had written off any hope of him waking up long ago. “She’s the one who always took care of me. She saved my life,” he said. As for his wife, she said “I cried a lot, and I prayed a lot. Those who came to see us kept asking: ‘When is he going to die?’ But he’s not dead.” Clearly a fine example of why you should have faith and never give up hope.

So what does Grzebski have to say about the world today, 19 years later?

“What amazes me today is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning. I’ve got nothing to complain about.”

If only we could all have such a relaxed approach to life, this world would be a much more pleasant place to live in.

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Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas Speaks But Nobody Listens

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah forces have been battling the ruling Hamas party over the weekend, condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas in what was probably the most honest, true statement to come out of the Middle East in all of this year. He said:

Gaza is free of occupation, but there are no investors and no prosperity. We dreamed that (Gaza) would prosper and dozens of investors from all over the world came to Gaza. Nothing has come to fruition. We decided it was better to fire rockets. Israel left, said goodbye, and instead of (Gaza) remaining calm and flourishing, there are those that still prefer to fire rockets.

The fact that Abbas said this is pretty remarkable for a number of reasons. Chief among them is the notion that this essentially cuts the legs out from under Hamas and everyone else in the Middle East who endlessly complain about Israeli occupation in the Gaza strip. Hamas, which the United States and European Union list as a terrorist organization, has for years used Israeli occupation as an excuse to fire rockets and send suicide bombers into Israel. Now, it seems they’ll have to find something else to scapegoat.

Abbas is a great man to criticize his own countrymen and basically stick up for Israel. I’m not saying Israel is always in the right and can do no wrong; when it comes to the Middle East clearly everyone is guilty, including those from distant lands. However, the time for clashes and wars is over. One would think that after nearly 60 years Arabs would have learned that Israel is not going anywhere, and starting fights with them isn’t going to accomplish anything. Abbas recognizes this, and has in recent months called for direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine, which Hamas has vowed will never happen. In its charter, Hamas declares one of its goals as the destruction of Israel. That isn’t necessarily the problem per se, anyone can say what they what, heck there are probably old Ku Klux Klan members lying around who would like to cause harm to African Americans. The issue arises when individuals with these irrational mindsets become heads of state, as in the case of Iran.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shares the fanatical views of Hamas, so much so that he directly supports their causes through funding, weapons, etc. Just a few days ago the leader of Hamas was stopped on a return trip from Iran and other countries in the Middle East, carrying up to $35 million in briefcases. This is a perfect example of the point Abbas is trying to make. Israel is gone, they want peace with the Palestinians. Yet, organizations like Hamas are still actively campaigning the destruction of Israel, and they’re getting support from several nations; notably Iran and Syria.

It is not until Middle Eastern countries put the future of their children first that there will be any true hope of attaining peace. Children in the Middle East shouldn’t be raised as suicide bombers, they should be educated and push their domestic economies to become more self-sustainable nations. When are we ever as humans going to be able to look past greed and selfish ambition and actually do something that we know is right?

Also, I know this is becoming a rather long entry but I want to mention quickly that isn’t it odd how the Western media didn’t cover this statement by Abbas? Apparently Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner and others prefer to ignore the truth, even when it is coming from Arab leaders themselves. Perhaps it is more profitable to make Israel the bad guy, I mean who would buy newspapers if there was only good news?

At any rate its a shame that the unquenchable greed of a few prevents harmonious peace for many. It truly is, in essence, 21st century communism on a global scale.

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Al Jazeera English going global 11/14/2006

Al Jazeera, the highly controversial Arab satellite TV station, announced that it will launch on Wednesday a global channel dubbed Al Jazeera English. It’s about time! Americans, whether liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, constantly bicker about the overarching bias of certain broadcasting networks. One that gets mentioned as often if not more than any other is FOX News. The bottom line, however, is that they’re all biased. American TV networks can claim to be as “fair and balanced” as they want, however the undeniable aspect of it is that they’re all biased, and always will be, for the simple fact that they are the Western media. CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, BBC, etc., all owned and operated by the Western world.

It is in this respect that Al Jazeera differs from the rest. According to Wadah Khanfar, head of the Al Jazeera network, Al Jazeera is “the only international network that is based in the developing world.” Khanfar claims, and I agree with him, that this gives Al Jazeera a strategic advantage. For example, when an international news team covers a story in the Middle East they will travel to the location and meet up with other Western colleagues, share information, report a story, and go home. However, Al Jazeera has local correspondents throughout the Middle East, individuals already embedded within their respective societies, which Khanfar says will provide for much better insight. Al Jazeera English will explain the Middle East region to the outside world, because “the role of the media is to give an honest understanding of reality,” Khanfar says.

Many nations have long been at odds with Al Jazeera. Although clashes been Al Jazeera and the United States have received the most media attention, several Middle Eastern countries have raised complaints against the network; such as Saudi Arabia, who has never allowed the bureau to operate within its territory. Even Qatar, the country which is home to Al Jazeera, has been critical in many instances.

What remains to be seen is just how many people will have access to Al Jazeera English, given that it is a satellite TV station. I can see it gaining initial popularity in European countries, where there is no big brother-ish corporate America controlled media that certainly does not want Al Jazeera English to be broadcasted. After the democrats’ mid-term election landslide over republicans last week in the House of Representatives and the Senate, one can only imagine the repercussions the executive branch would be forced to endure if the American public were to actually find out the truth about our foreign policy with respect to the Middle East.

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