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newsmongering 06/14

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> So it turns out that Firefox 4 will cheerfully crash if more than about 35 tabs are open. Good to know!

> More than 100 ordained ministers from the Omaha area have signed a proclamation “calling for an end to religious and civil discrimination based on sexual orientation. …Rev. Eric Elnes, pastor of Countryside Community Church, said the proclamation was created because, ‘we were just fed up with the popular notion that the Christian point of view is anti-gay.'”

> Al Jazeera is reporting that 8,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey, with an estimated 10,000 still displaced within Syria. The death toll since protests began three months ago has been estimated at 1,300.

> The Guardian on why Syria may not welcome Western interference; basically, it’s a devil-you-know scenario. Also:

UN sanctions would have limited impact. The US and the EU have already imposed sanctions so what more the UN can do is unclear. As Iraq showed, broad scale sanctions hit the people much harder then the regime. If UN sanctions appear improbable, military action is even more so. Donald Rumsfeld famously said Iraq was “winnable and doable” – a mistake his successors will live with for years.

While Syria, armed with ageing Soviet weaponry, may not be a formidable military power, the absence of any real partner on the ground, the delicate sectarian and ethnic mix and the volatile neighbourhood means that, like Iraq, it is very losable.

> A fascinating look at sectarian divides in Syria:

Jisr al-Shoughour, where the government used tanks and helicopters to crush what it called “armed terrorist gangs,” sits in a landscape as complicated as anywhere in Syria. It is a Sunni town with an Alawite town less than a mile to the south, interspersed with Christian and more Sunni settlements.

> Robert Fisk has a short piece on the utter insanity of the trials of nearly fifty medical personnel in Bahrain charged with simultaneously attempting to topple the monarchy and killing their patients. And Ayat al-Qurmezi, the 20-year old student who recited an anti-government poem at a protest in March, has been sentenced to a year in prison.

> Germany now recognizes the Transitional National Council as the official representative of Libya, as does France, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Britain, Spain, Italy, and Australia. The US, the BRICS, and Turkey do not. (via)

> Following the Anonymous’s successful Operation Turkey last week, the Turkish government has arrested 32 people in connection with the operation. Eight of those arrested are believed to be minors. Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating calls the move “probably inevitable,” noting that “It’s not surprising that if Turkey were going to make hacker arrests, it would make 32 of them. The country’s usual response to possible unrest is to arrest a lot of people at once.”

It’s probably not because Turkey has more massive criminal conspiracies per capita than anywhere else. Other countries manage to break up terrorist plots without resorting to mass arrests — it was the Buffalo Six not the Buffalo 86, for instance. More likely, Ankara uses the public spectacle of mass arrests to send a message. Under Turkish law, an individual can be charged for simply belonging to a banned organization, even if he or she hasn’t actually participated in any illegal activities.[…]

Despite its mass arrests, Turkey has a relatively low conviction rate — around 50 percent. Out of the original 86 Ergenekon arrests, only 48 are still on trial. But because Turkish law allows suspects to be held in prison during their trial, the arrest and trial itself can often be punishment enough — and a powerful deterrent for those who might think of instigating their own plots.

So while it wouldn’t be surpising if not all those arrested are actually members of Anonymous — to the extent that Anonymous even has members — and it’s certainly unlikely that all of them will be convicted, arrests like this one send a definite statement.

> Al Jazeera’s Ilter Turan wonders if Erdoğan’s words of goodwill and reform will translate to actual results.

> In Egypt, the conservative Muslim brotherhood has formed a coalition with the liberal Wafd party to run one candidate list in the October elections.

The move surprised some analysts because of the long-standing rivalry between the two groups, and likely startled some secularists and liberals.

“Now that this coalition exists, it will dictate the electoral outcome,” said Essam el-Erian, vice president of the Freedom and Justice Party and former member of the Brotherhood’s guidance bureau. Erian said that the coalition is open and encourages others to join.

“We want a parliament that represents the entire nation, with all its political tendencies and forces,” he said.

> About 6,000 Moroccans marched in Casablanca yesterday, demanding greater democracy and an end to corruption in the government.

Unlike the popular uprisings sweeping other Arab countries, Morocco’s activists are not calling for the king’s ouster, just a limiting of his powers and changing the country into a constitutional monarchy.

On March 9, the king acknowledged protester demands and ordered a panel of experts to modify the constitution to limit his powers, strengthen the judiciary and promote greater democracy.

…On Friday, the king was presented the new constitution and it was shown to political party leaders. Though its contents have not been made public, media accounts suggest many of its provisions meet protesters’ demands.

But Sunday’s demonstrators remained deeply skeptical of the new constitution because of the way it had been drawn up, and many of the slogans chanted called for greater popular input into reform.

> The UN is reporting that Gaza’s unemployment rate is 45.2% – one of the highest in the world.

The UN report says while private businesses have suffered most, the Hamas-run public sector is one of the few areas where there has been economic growth, with the government employing tens of thousands of people.

Mr Gunness said the research had found that since 2007, Hamas had been able to increase public employment by at least one fifth.

“If the aim of the blockade policy was to weaken the Hamas administration, the public employment numbers suggest this has failed,” he added.

> Nepal has cleared its last minefield, making it the second landmine-free country in Asia. The other is China (and if China’s status is self-reported, I’d consider it suspect).

> The shortlist for Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s replacement as managing director of the IMF is down to two: French Finance Minister Christine Legarde and Governor of the Bank of Mexico Agustine Carsten. To see how the new managing director is chosen, see the BBC’s excellent piece here.

> A referendum on Sunday would indicate that Italians “no longer seem willing to put up with the bizarre charm of their prime minister.” Although Berlusconi’s monopoly on Italian telecommunications systems gave the Prime Minister an immense platform from which to suggest that people not bothering turning out for the vote, over 50% of the population did so, voting down four major platforms, including expanded nuclear power.

> A Congressional report indicates that 70% (20,504) of 29,284 weapons recovered from Mexican crime scenes between 2009 and 2010 originated in the US. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are calling for strengthening of US regulations.

“This report confirms what many of us already know to be true … it is still too easy for Mexican drug lords to get their hands on deadly military-grade weapons within our borders,” said Schumer. “We need to redouble our efforts to keep violent firearms out of the hands of these traffickers.”

The senators are calling for reinstatement of an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and better enforcement of a ban on the import of military style weapons.

They also want to close a provision that allows private sellers at gun shows to sell weapons without a background check.

“This report outlines common sense measures that will help protect our border and our communities by keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of Mexican gangs and drug cartels,” Whitehouse said. (via)

> The US Senate’s website was hacked this weekend by a group called Lulz Security. Read their statement (which is a fun bit of reading, if I do say so myself) here.

> Rick Santorum would like you to know that of course he has gay friends.

I'm going to need to see some black friends, too.> Not only was the Gay Girl in Damascus blog a hoax, so was the popular lesbian blog LezGetReal. I love the smell of cultural appropriation in the morning.

> If you took David Sedaris, got him together with a Coupling-era Steven Moffat for a pint, and gave them a nice bit of the Nordic area to play with, you’d have the Swedish monarchy.


Written by whackanarwhal

June 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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