news you should know about

newsmongering 04/05

with 2 comments

> Firstly, and forgive my complete lack of familiar with certain areas of pop culture, but what on Earth is Casino Jack and why does every website I visit seem to have a vested interest in me knowing it exists?

> On the off chance that you recall: Yesterday I mentioned that the rioting in Afghanistan broke out after President Karzai condemned Pastor Terry Jones’ Quran-burning; I didn’t speculate on why he chose to alert his people to the event, given that it was such a non-event in the media (as I commented earlier, I hadn’t heard about it and I’m pretty plugged in; apparently, neither had anyone else, until Karzai chose to publicize it (with allies like that…); Foreign Policy speculates here. On another tack, Salon suggests that while there was certainly outrage in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) over the burning, the riots themselves may have been sparked by Taliban operatives. Nonetheless, as Salon points out, the burning has had repercussions and at least twenty people have been killed as a result; Jones’ stunt has certainly affected the landscape.

> Eman al-Obeidy is interviewed by Anderson Cooper. Side point: the article’s title is “Iman al-Obeidi, Libyan Woman Who Claimed Rape, Speaks with Anderson Cooper.” Internets, I think we can stop using “claimed” in this context? Maybe?

> Syria seems to have settled down, if for the moment; Foreign Policy discusses why Syria didn’t become the next Tunisia (note that this analysis only came out after the riots had apparently subsided, indicating that perhaps the author was waiting to see which way the wind blew before publishing. Smart move, but indicates a certain lack of confidence). Also, things may not be all that settled yet – two policemen were attacked and killed today in Damascus.

> Conversely, Yemen appears to still be settling up; yesterday, “tens of thousands of protesters” marched on President Saleh’s palace in Sanaa for the first time, and the southern port down of Abden has apparently fallen to – get this – al-Qaeda-backed forces; possibly I haven’t been looking, but I don’t recall hearing al-Qaeda mentioned previously. This should be interesting.

> Well. ElBaradei – one of the de facto leaders in the Egyptian uprising, although I don’t know to what extent he’s affiliated with the current military rule – has announced that Egypt will attack Israel if Israel attacks Gaza, and that he’ll seek a joint Arab military intervention; he didn’t cite Libya, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the allusion crop up, particularly given the Arab League’s initial opposition to the present intervention. I wonder what his definition of “attacks” is. I also wish I had time to hunt down any remarks he might have made during the 2008 Gaza War – it’d be a somewhat handy way to take his pulse now.

> French President Sarkozy is preparing what will undoubtedly be a controversial debate on the role is Islam in France; the discussion comes a week after the ban on the burqa comes into effect. Sarkozy being Sarkozy, we can surely expect France to be issuing tersely-worded non-apologies to the Muslim world before it’s over.

> In public remarks, British Prime Minister David Cameron commented that Britain was responsible for many of the world’s problems. He’s right, but whether or not that bears apologizing for is apparently up for dispute:

Sean Gabb, of the campaign group Libertarian Alliance, said Mr Cameron should not apologise for Britain’s past.

He said: “It’s a valid historical point that some problems stem from British foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries, but should we feel guilty about that? I fail to see why we should.

“Some of these problems came about because these countries decided they did not want to be part of the British Empire. They wanted independence. They got it. They should sort out their problems instead of looking to us.”

…if only they’d just try harder, guys! If only! Maybe they could even build some non-regulated bootstrap factories to stimulate their economy! Then they could export boostraps for 20% below current market price in the UK!

> If you don’t mind…can we talk about Germany for a moment? Is that cool? (Usual disclaimers about my right to be young and stupid apply)

Here’s the thing…I don’t understand what the German government is doing right now. In terms of the news cycle, most of what I’m seeing out of Germany at the moment is the elective shutdown of their nuclear systems – all of them. This move…doesn’t make sense. Admittedly, Japan’s nuclear situation is presently still up shit creek with neither paddle nor snorkel, which is making nuclear everywhere look bad and is certainly leading to a global examination of prioritizing of safety and inspections, and Germany is notoriously conservative in terms of policies that could eventually go awry. And I’m not a huge fan of nuclear power because it’s been my impression that we still don’t have any feasible way of getting rid of the icky afters. But still – the Germany government’s reaction against nuclear power at the moment is enough to give you whiplash; it’s making Germany look fearful and reactionary, which is not an image Germany needs at the moment. For that matter, it’s not one the EU needs – Sarkozy’s credibility continues to saunter vaguely downwards, Berlusconi is a mess (warning; video ads), and the UK under the Cameron/Clegg coalition is not doing as well as initially hoped. Now is not the time for Germany to be falling apart at the seams. That’s the picture one can pull from the news cycle at present, and it’s reflecting in German politics. If they wanted to phase out nuclear power, strictly from a PR standpoint, the wiser move would have been to pledge more funds and research to reactor safety (and waste disposal), and then quietly begin shutting down reactors within the following months.

> Foreign Policy discusses Cote d’Ivoire. I’m increasingly seeing references to Rwanda in discussions of Cote d’Ivoire, and how much of that is driven by actual historical parallels versus widely broadcasted reports of brown people with machetes, I don’t know – but in terms of apparent UN incompetence and the French being a bit inept, the shoe seems to fit. There also seems to be indication that the massacre reported by Caritas and IRC a few days ago was carried out by pro-Outtara forces.

Relatedly, Gbagbo is allegedly negotiating his surrender with the UN (I’m sure that surrendering to the UN is far preferable to surrendering Ouattara, but still, at this point, I believe he doesn’t have a lot to ‘negotiate’) (Also, Gbagbo says he’s not surrendering, but calls for peace talks. Possibly he hasn’t looked out his window. Maybe his basement doesn’t have windows? Anyway, the UN says he’s fibbing).

In a similar article here, an Al Jazeera correspondent discusses local fears of Ouattara’s militias:

“The disturbing thing is the checkpoints and barricades being manned by young men who are unemployed, some of them intoxicated, armed with machetes, [who] decide who goes in and out of Abidjan.”

The usual trajectory of a revolutionary is, I believe, to supplant that which is overthrown. I would not be surprised to see that happen here, and it should be interesting to watch the UN’s role in post-Gbagbo Cote d’Ivoire. Similarly, I’d be interested to read anything on the politics of primarily French troops intervening in a former colony – surely there’s some tension there, or will be once this tension begins to dissipate, particularly if Ouattara needs a target to blame for the unrest that will almost certainly linger.

> The looming government shutdown appears to still be on! According to Maddowblog, Harry Reid grows…oh, let’s go with ‘impatient’ with the GOP:

“I mean, it seems every step we take it’s something just to poke us in the eye,” Senator Reid told reporters this afternoon. “They are not — they are not trying to arrive at the finish line. It appears that they’re going to do everything they can to satisfy the Tea Party.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t that been GOP policy for…well, quite a while now? The GOP pushes and wins with sheer ballsiness, and the Dems cower?  Are the Democrats on the Hill finally started to recognize the pattern? (Der Spiegel has an interesting breakdown of the American political landscape here.) Slightly relatedly, Foreign Policy says for the duration of the shutdown, military would cease to be paid; my cousin, who happens to be military, indicated otherwise when I linked to the article on Facebook. As he said, he’ll find out come April 15.

> Karl Rove has started his own Wikileaks! He calls it Wikicountability. Yeah, I know. Anyway, Salon says (and you really should read the whole piece, it’s short and quite good):

I’m not looking for noble goals from political hacks dabbling in journalism (or scare-quotes “journalism,” no one is entirely sure of the difference anymore). But I do detect a fundamental difference between the way (most) liberals and (most) conservatives play the entire rigged game: For way too many conservative outlets, the attempt to figure out the truth about a situation takes a decided back seat to the real goal, which is “point-scoring.”

I’d also like to remark that Wikicountability sounds an awful lot like Conservapedia, which close compatriots will know is one of my favorite things ever because of the extent to which it doesn’t work; it just really, really doesn’t work at being a conservative alternative to wikipedia (just as Wikicountability won’t work as an ‘alternative’ to Wikileaks) because you can’t have a conservative alternative to, you know, knowledge. You wind up with articles like this one, which happens to be on fur:

Fur is an outstanding material for clothing worn in cold environments. Because the LORD has given us dominion over all creation, we may morally skin animals to use their fur for clothing. Liberals and atheists argue that doing so is unethical, for they believe animals have rights and equality with humans. God gives mankind dominion over animals to use for our benefit.

(Go on and click on those “liberals” and “atheists” links – you know you want to.)

> Speaking of people getting things wrong…a CNN poll indicates that people think that 5% of the federal budget goes to NPR, which would mean NPR gets $178 billion per year (they don’t). Salon (somewhat farcically) breaks down what that budget would mean for listeners (“Terry Gross would conclude interviews by deciding if the subject lives or dies,” “Juan Williams would be missing and presumed killed by an unmanned CPB drone”). Tote bags for everybody! The Onion similarly jumps on the bandwagon: “GOP Completely Fixes Economy By Canceling Funding for NPR” (“Unemployment plummeted and stocks soared Tuesday after Republican leaders fulfilled their promise to cut funding for National Public Radio, a budgetary move that has completely rejuvenated the flagging U.S. economy.”).

> A school in San Francisco took its students on a civil rights-oriented tour of the Castro. Parents freaked out. Their kids might not have learned about homosexuality on the tour, but they’ve certainly learned about homophobia.

> And on that note…a friend burned me a (totally awesome) mix CD for my birthday, and this song was the final track. It’s been in my head since Sunday. That can’t be healthy.


Written by whackanarwhal

April 6, 2011 at 12:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. The conservapedia entry on liberals has an /entire section/ entitled John Maynard Keynes and Pederasty. John Maynard Keynes’ alleged preference for younger dudes is such an important part of the definition of ‘liberal’ that it warrants its own subheading. I may die laughing.


    April 6, 2011 at 1:14 am

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