Reporting on the Yemen

The final push is upon us, which means that posting will likely be light and/or sporadic until May 15. I'll do my best to put up at least a token post every day, but no promises. (This excuse also accounts for the lack of posting on al-Shihri's audio tape. Somethings, though they are very few, take precedence over blogging.)

That aside, we have yet another story on Yemenis in Guantanamo. I first read this piece this morning long before coffee and the outside world and it left me fairly confused. I was hoping my views would have changed by the afternoon, but no such luck.

I have no idea why reporters keeping saying things like: Of the 248 prisoners currently in Guantanamo, 104 are from Yemen. The US authorities classify many of them as dangerous. Their homeland would not like to see them sent back to Yemen - as 23 al-Qaeda terrorists managed to escape from a high-security prison' there three years ago.

But they do.

The paragraph makes it appear as though Yemen doesn't want them back because 23 AQ suspects tunneled out of prison in February 2006 - or in other words, because the government can't control the suspects it has. Does anyone seriously believe this?

I know many people think that Yemen doesn't want these detainees back (this is a view I have never really been able to follow - maybe they speak to different Yemenis and governmental sources than I do, but still it just doesn't square with what I know of the negotiations and discussions and, to be quite honest, the history of US releasing Guantanamo detainees) - but surely none of these people, some of whom I respect even if I disagree with them on this point, are basing their analysis that Yemen doesn't want these guys back on the premise that the Yemeni government does not think it can keep these guys from escaping from prison.

I'm also unsure that the Yemeni government is under the impression that the proposed rehabilitation center is going to be run by Americans. Financing is one thing, operating and managing it is something entirely different.

Also in the news today is this piece in al-Quds al-Arabi on the on-going trial of the 16 AQ suspects. The article claims that Haza al-Qu'ayti was only the military commander of the Soldiers' Brigades of Yemen and not the commander, a position supposedly occupied by 'Abdullah Batis (I think the al-Quds al-Arabi story is mispelling the name here). This seems to fly in the face of all the evidence we have. Interestingly, the story doesn't quote either of the individuals captured in the Tarim raid in August 2008 where both al-Qu'ayti and Batis were killed.

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Lumina Foundation and Big Think have partnered to bring this entrepreneurial competition to life, and we hope you'll participate! We have narrowed down the competition to four finalists and will be announcing an audience's choice award and a judges' choice award in May.

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Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod

Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.

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PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.

Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young

Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.

Finalist: Practera - Nikki James

Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.

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Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.

Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.

Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.

Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.

Again, thank you to our incredible expert judges.

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