Friday, December 30, 2011

Karen Alloy and the future of the internet, etc

above:"What is SOPA and PIPA and Why YouTube is so Important!"

Uploaded by spricket24 on Dec 20, 2011.

and below, "Statewide Ban on Cell Phones while Driving!"

I have a feeling that "Spricket 24", aka Karen Alloy, and her twin messages(regarding SOPA and PIPA legislation) have a far greater reach than your average lefty blogger. Her communication style reminds me a bit of Beakman's World, a TV show from a few years back that was apparently aimed at kids. However, somehow I don't find her irritating the way I did with him. Why, I'm not sure. Ok, that's not entirely true, I have an idea or two. She's funnier, for one thing. Also, well...oh, you know.

But even if she gets a thousand viewers for every one visitor to a site like Firedoglake or Boing Boing, what will happen then? Somewhat serious, yet coy and hip to avoid seeming too earnest is the overlay of much of modern communication, the style du jour. Maybe it's because millions of people realize that voting, advocacy, trying to change things for the better, etc., is most likely a sucker's game, but declaring this grimly without a little capering and snark is like abandoning all hope at the gate, and meekly passing through.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Miscellaneous items (Word says “Odds and Ends” is a cliché)

As readers of Dead Horse have already no doubt heard, Iran has in its possession a U.S. spy drone.

What I find amazing is that Barack Obama has demanded it back. Seriously, even when caught red-handed, as long as none of your people are captured, isn’t there a rule that a country is supposed to deny that they spy, have ever spied or will ever spy? I mean, is anybody going to believe Uncle Sam the next time a couple of “hitchhikers” are accused of espionage.

What I find depressing is that so many people think the U.S. should have destroyed the drone before Iran got to it. Yeah, after being caught spying on another country, surely nothing bad could come from dropping a bomb on that country. Those people love bombs. Why do you think we have to bomb them so often?


The U.S. war machine has not really left Iraq, but Obama will likely get credit from Democrats and some independents for ending the occupation, and isn’t that what is really important.

Hopefully Iraqis will be able to rebuild and improve their country.


Former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson is running for president. A former Democrat, Anderson left the party in August over disagreements involving tax cuts, torture and war. To support his campaign, he has formed Justice Party USA. I do not expect much to come from this, but I’m pessimistic about just about everything.


I have nothing to say about the situation in North Korea following the death of Kim Jong-il, but Christopher Hitchens once had a lot say to North Korea.

Hitchens would probably have a lot to say about North Korea now, but he died from a cancer related complication last week. Hitchens was critical of disgusting worship in North Korea of “our dear father,” which he labeled as religious in nature. Contrary to Hitchens, however, I believe that this indicates that an ancient holy book is not necessary for people to do some of the terrible and bizarre things that are at other times justified by religion. And so seemingly the only way to say “religion poisons everything,” as Hitchens did, is to say “deeply held convictions and beliefs=religion.” Instead, I propose, “humanity poisons everything.” (Man, I hate those people.)

Both before and after his death, Hitchens was often lauded with adjectives such as “brilliant.” I never quite saw it. I’ve been reading his books, columns and essays since 1994 and I had no idea what he was talking about half the time. Then again, I never stopped reading Hitchens, which perhaps does say something about his talents as a writer.

Hitchens was a mentor to Dennis Perrin. The two had a falling out over U.S. foreign policy after September 11, 2011, but Perrin still shows a fair amount of affection in his tribute to Hitchens, which is very much worth reading.

The big question at this moment is where Hitchens’ soul now resides. On his blog, Satan says Hitchens is in hell, but can you really trust the “father of all lies”? In contrast, on the more learned but less entertaining Religion Dispatches website, Eric Reitan writes “if there is a deity waiting on the other side of death, I cannot but believe that Hitchens is even now stumbling in surprised wonder into those arms.”

If Hitchens is in hell, I’m sure his strong support for the “war on terror” will qualify him for a furlough so he can attend the ninth annual Bob Hope’s Heavenly Christmastime Tribute to the Dead Troops.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Le Torrent, etc

Sarko n friend

photo: ZDNet/CBS News

(Sarko likes my title, but I stole it. Evidently stealing's swell, 'cept when it isn't.)

Zack Whittaker, ZDNet:

Everybody pirates: RIAA, Homeland Security caught downloading torrents

12.19 French presidential officials caught illegally downloading music, "30 Companies Paid Lobbyists More Than the IRS"

Roy Edroso, Village Voice:"Running Scared"
(via BDR)

"James Kirchick, who chronicled the hair-raising statements from Paul's newsletters in the New Republic four years ago, returned in the most recent edition of conservative magazine The Weekly Standard to amplify on them.
"...the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel, who, after some blahblah about Paul being "in many ways, the ideal candidate for a conservative electorate hungry for a principled GOP nominee" and "the 'intellectual godfather' of the tea party movement," disqualified Paul on the grounds that he "fundamentally denies American exceptionalism and refuses to allow for decisive action to protect the U.S. homeland."

Naked Capitalism, Philip Mirowski: The Seekers, or How Mainstream Economists Have Defended Their Discipline Since 2008 – Part I

(I think the video below may be the one Mirowski is referring to. The link he supplies doesn't work, although this snippet(from 2009) isn't particularly illuminating one way or another.)

Inside Look - How Did Paul Krugman Get It So Wrong?

Uploaded by Bloomberg on Sep 20, 2009. Interview with University of Chicago Finance Professor John Cochrane (Bloomberg News)

Leslie Thatcher's December 5th interview with Mike Lofgren is well worth reading, even if the title is something of a misnomer. He only discusses Democrats beating Republicans in passing, but it suggests to the casual reader that it's another one of those tedious messaging and strategy pieces when in fact it's a broader discussion of US political trends over the past 20 plus years. If you missed Lofgren's article from the summer, it's also worth reading.

"I Know How to Beat Republicans": Interview With Former GOP Staffer Mike Lofgren

Some highlights:

"...the crystallizing event for me was the 2002 State of the Union speech identifying the axis of evil as Iraq and Iran - which had fought a long and devastating war and hated each other - and North Korea, which might as well have been on the dark side of the moon from the point of view of the other two countries. At that point, I thought, "This guy is going to war forever. There are no adults in charge." All subsequent events were merely confirmations of that intuition.
Establishment liberals just don't understand what's happening and are too often supercilious, condescending and off-topic.

Maybe I'll create a vocabulary primer. For example, take "empower." "Empower means "cut 'em off; you're on your own." Empowering seniors by cutting off social security means they're going to be mopping the floor at McDonald's.

The problem is that, for years, liberals coasted on the coattails of FDR, got very complacent and generated no new ideas. So, when the GOP came to the waterhole and stole their clothes, they didn't know what to do; they thought they had hegemony. Group one retreated to the ivory tower: effete crybabies, they became useless politically. Group two, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), became GOP-lite and a pure fundraising operation.
And somehow all this nonsense about how he is a Muslim and not a US citizen is perfect cover for how he slid in as a center-right president who pretty much followed George Bush in everything."

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Monday, December 12, 2011

12 December 2011 The Congo

Real News Interview with Kambale Musavuli. Part 1 is above.

Obama, the US and 5 Million Deaths in The Congo | Dec 1, 2011 |

Kambale Musavuli: Congo is essential to the American military and aerospace industry

pt 2: Congo: Chaos By Design

pt 3: The US, Mining and Dictators in the Congo

Kambale Musavuli: People should demand a fundamental change in US policy towards the Congo

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pakistan without tears

Above: RT Gen. Hamid Gul: US attack on Pakistan will turn region into inferno

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Dec 4, 2011
Last month's attack by a NATO aircraft on Pakistani region that killed 24 soldiers has infuriated Islamabad. RT spoke to Hamid Gul, the country's former head of intelligence, about consequences the incident may have for US-Pakistani relations.

via Reality Zone.

Slate: "Defense Department overrules plan to offer a formal apology for last weekend's fatal NATO airstrikes"
(Evidently the title, per the url was originally "Pakistan: NATO soldiers attacked our troops")

Pakistan won’t be getting an official "I’m Sorry" from President Obama anytime soon, the New York Times reports.

According to the paper, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, had urged the White House to have the president issue a formal video statement apologizing for this past weekend’s NATO airstrikes that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers. But senior officials within the Defense Department overruled the idea, saying that the remorse shown by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials was enough for now until a full investigation into the international incident is complete.

The Times explains the possible political calculus behind the decision: "Some administration aides also worried that if Mr. Obama were to overrule the military and apologize to Pakistan, such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents in the presidential campaign, according to several officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly."

CNN: Obama expresses 'condolences' to Pakistan's president (And yes, those are CNN's quotation marks.)

When is an apology not an apology? On many, many occasions, and certainly when it needs to sound different to different sets of ears. I've noted before that US media coverage of foreign policy doings often seem designed to misdirect the casual viewer/reader/mindless consumer of news/whatever. As you likely know, Pakistan is the only majority Muslim country that does have nuclear weapons, and their people are generally pretty unhappy with that government for its apparent servitude to the US and NATO, even under normal circumstances, i.e., even before the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month. But "the narrative", as people call these things nowadays, is mostly fixated on Iran and their more imaginary nukes, and that narrative is designed to agitate those casual news gobblers about how worrisome the Iranian threat is, even if it has never actually been demonstrated to exist.

But the news regarding Pakistan never seems calculated to worry Americans about the fragility of Pakistan's government, or US-Pakistani relations, nukes or no nukes. I am not clear why this is so, although I note it parallels the apparent lack of concern our state department has about antagonizing Pakistan. The NY Times article alluded to above suggests that Obama wanted to apologize to Pakistan, but was overruled by the defense department, so he didn't, or he just "kinda" apologized.

The effect is pretty bizarre, on many levels. We don't actually know that the Pentagon objected. That may also be an excuse, Obama's hand supposedly being forced, much as the advising offered by Summers and Geithner was used as an excuse to placate critics of BHO's dealings with the banks and the HAMP program and so forth. BHO had no problem standing up to McChrystal when the latter's Rolling Stone interview annoyed the narcissist-in-chief, so the idea that his hands are tied is risible. (Well, assuming he never ordered a deliberate attack on the Pakistani soldiers. If that were the case, I guess he'd have to worry about the Joint Chiefs turning him in to the Hague, although I find it hard to believe he'd really be that concerned. )

But on another level there's the brazenness of acknowledging that the upcoming election is more important than the Pakistani soldiers who were killed, which actually seems calculated to worsen relations with Pakistan. The acknowledgment is only via unnamed sources in an NYT article, so not many people here will pay attention to it, but it may carry more weight over there. I can't help but think about how top officials in our government have so much pomp and apparatus to protect them from seeming like careless blunderers or fiendish goons. The reporters covering the state department, and "administration officials" and all these people and things that mediate our perception, to prevent us from regarding them as cold-bloded jerks or idiots.

I can't help but think of Terry Jones, the Florida preacher with the wild looking mustache who burned the Koran, and how his behavior was actually pretty similar. He had the excuse of seeming a fool and not knowing any better, at least in some people's eyes. But the president and state department, et al are supposed to know better, right?

I'm also reminded of the incident in the summer of 1988, when the US Navy shot down a civilian Iranian airliner over Iranian territorial waters, killing all 290 people on board, including 66 children. The Navy said that the radar profile of the Airbus looked like that of an F-14 Tomcat fighter, a considerably smaller airplane, which the Iranian Air Force also operated, having purchased some in the 1970s when the Shah was in power. Eventually our government paid a settlement of a bit over 61 million dollars to Iran for the families of the passengers, albeit without an apology or acknowledging responsibility.

Iran Air 655 was shot down when Reagan was president, and the US paid a settlement in the mid 1990s during the Clinton administration, so it's reasonable to see a good bit of continuity in policy here, just as the George W. Bush administration started threatening Iran in 2002 with the notorious Axis of Evil speech, and this sabre-rattling has continued under Obama.

When I recently read up about Iran Air's fateful Flight 655, I found out that in March of 1989 Sharon Rogers, the wife of the USS Vincennes's captain, had her minivan firebombed in San Diego[1](It was registered in Captain Rogers's name.), but later the FBI ruled out the possibility that it was a terrorist reprisal. I've occasionally wondered over the years if the Lockerbie bombing in December 1988 was reprisal for the downing of Flight 655, and not in fact the work of Libya-affiliated terrorists. But then it was pinned on Libya, which was functional: Americans might be less likely to regard US government indifference to the deaths of Middle Easterners at our hands as responsible for tangible blow back, and less likely to seriously question our government's policies.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan who was convicted by the UK for the Lockerbie bombing, has always maintained his innocence[2] throughout the years, through his trial and prison sentence, which ended in 2009 when he was released early because of his deteriorating health. (Although the US is now trying to extradite him so he may go back to jail.[3] ) Incidentally the Jim Swires that al-Megrahi refers to in the video at the Telegraph article(below) was the father of one of the passengers who died at Lockerbie, and he also questions the official version.

At any rate, the "narrative" of unrepentance evidently has to continue in Pakistan. I linked to a snippet on CNN of Fareed Zakaria recently discussing the recent agressive rhetoric directed towards Iran. He also has an Op-Ed in Time discussing the attack on the Pakistani soldiers, "Friends without benefits" which bewails the inconvenience Pakistan's relationship with the US has caused--- to the US!

You wouldn't have thought anti-Americanism in Pakistan could get any worse, but last week NATO attacked a Pakistani army post, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Even before this episode, for which NATO expressed deep regret, it would be difficult to find a country on the planet that was more anti-American than Pakistan. In a Pew survey this year, only 12% of Pakistanis expressed a favorable view of the United States. Populist rage and official duplicity have built up even though Washington has lavished Islamabad with aid totaling $20 billion over the last decade.

Why the 'populist rage'? Why aren't the people more grateful for all the bombs and assorted weapons we offer their government? He goes on to compare the relationship between the US and Pakistan to that of a shopkeeper to the mafia:

The second argument is the one given by businesses when they pay off the Mafia: ‘We need to keep these guys as allies, or else they will become enemies.’ The problem with this protection racket is that it isn’t working. Admiral Mike Mullen finally said publicly what insiders have said privately for years: Pakistan’s army, despite getting over a quarter of its budget from Washington, funds and arms the most deadly terrorist group in South Asia.

Does Zakaria actually believe this rubbish? Does it really need to be pointed out that the US is by far the stronger party, and hardly comparable to a reluctant merchant humoring crime bosses leaning on him? He know US forces have been killing Pakistani civilians for years, and our relationship with them makes their position more precarious, as ordinary Pakistanis intensely resent our periodically killing their people in raids on alleged al-Qaeda camps, our insisting that they should be grateful and "see it our way" notwithstanding. Zakaria even says:

The Pakistani military holds to its worldview out of an ideological conviction that combines 19th century realpolitik with politicized Islam. But it also has a strong bureaucratic interest in regional friction. After all, with a win-win scenario in which peace with India results in prosperity for the region, why would Pakistan need a vast military that sucks up almost a quarter of the federal budget? The country’s military would end up looking like India’s— noninfluential, nonpolitical and well­ contained within the larger society
The Pakistani military doesn't have to be saintly for the "strong bureaucratic interest in regional friction" argument to also apply to the Pentagon. In fact it's a pretty telling phrase, and sounds like a recurring theme of US foreign policy.

I don't believe that Americans are naturally more cruel, or naturally smarter, or naturally stupider, etc., when compared to people from Iceland, India, Pakistan and so forth. But our elites certainly have a culture of cruelty, and it seems you can't be part of that elite unless you support and continually reinforce that cruelty.

[1] New York Times, Blast Wrecks Van of Skipper Who Downed Iran Jet
Published: March 11, 1989

[2] Telegraph(UK) Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi: 'truth will soon emerge' [video and text] 03 Oct 2011

[3] Daily Mail(UK), U.S. bid to extradite Lockerbie bomber raises prospect of David and Goliath battle between Washington and Scottish local council, 25 November 2011


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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Who the heck is Hazel Henderson?

Surely you have often asked yourself this question.

I'll admit I haven't, because I had not heard of Hazel Henderson until earlier today. I thought this interview above from 2007, was pretty interesting.

via, where she is described as

A self-educated economist, she once referred to the economics taught by traditional economists as a kind of "brain damage." Her works include The Politics of the Solar Age, Creating Alternative Futures, Paradigms in Progress, and Building a Win-Win World.


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Sunday, December 04, 2011

4 December 2011

via Skeptical Eye, "75 Years in Prison For Videotaping Police"
[the youtube link is here.]

(I've discussed this trend before: "The right to be forgotten.")

Thomas Rogers, in Salon: The Internet: Triumph of human evolution
The Web is more than just a powerful tool, it's our greatest adaptation. An expert explains why

The Internet allows us to do all kinds of things we never imagined possible. It lets us communicate with people across the world. We can learn whatever we want at the click of a button. We can navigate roads using our iPhones, and translate languages within seconds. It makes us smarter, and more versatile, and faster than ever. But the Web isn’t just a truly extraordinary invention, it is the apex of human evolution — and the ultimate evolutionary adaptation.

It may seem strange to think of the Web as part of the process of natural selection, but Raymond Neubauer, a professor at the University of Texas, doesn’t think so. In his far-reaching new book, “Evolution and the Emergent Self,” he argues that technology should be seen as part of our planet’s grand evolutionary narrative.

Neubauer's book sounds interesting, but I doubt I'll read it because of my limited time and budget. Although it occurs to me from what I gleaned from Rogers's article, that the prof is more likely channeling Hegel than Darwin, because I see several decades of devolution likely to be in store for us.

see also Ian Welsh, "Public Opinion is Irrelevant"

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Window farms windowfarms (via John Robb of Global Guerillas.)

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