Saturday Reads: Piss on your Peace and Peace is our ProfessionPosted: January 14, 2012
Minx here with you today and tomorrow. We are two weeks into the new year, seems like it’s been two months. The first day felt like a week, the second day seemed like five days, the third day seemed like a week again, the fourth day felt like three days, but the seventh and eighth days…seemed like an eternity!
Must be all the GOP Primary news that is getting to me! Political Affective Disorder…yes.
Alright…enough of the complaining, let’s get on with it.
There has been a lot of news happening in places other than the US…So I am going to start with global news first.
Iran, whoa…I don’t know what the final outcome will be, but I do know one thing…gas prices are going to skyrocket.
I hope to get around to saying more about the latest assassinated Iranian scientist, but in the meantime, I wanted to point out a coincidence of timing.
Jim Lobe argues convincingly that the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was likely designed to scuttle any efforts to dial down the rhetoric between Iran and the US.
My sense of the last week or so was that the mostly verbal confrontation between Iran and the U.S., particularly regarding the Strait of Hormuz, was spinning out of control much more rapidly than anyone had expected and that the possibility of a conflict had suddenly become very real in ways the Obama administration certainly never intended. (See Anne-Marie Slaughter’s CNN column, “Saving Face and Peace in the Gulf,” as an example of “this is getting really dangerous all of a sudden”. Until last fall, of course, she was Clinton’s director of policy planning and a very influential figure in the administration.) So there seemed to be a real effort to dial things back, expressed not only in repeated statements by senior administration officials, including Clinton, emphasizing Washington’s readiness to negotiate, but also, if the always well-informed Laura Rozen is to be believed, a lot of diplomatic — some of it, I’m sure, behind the scenes — manoeuvring to get the P5+1 process back into gear, with Turkey serving as the convenor/mediator.
Under these circumstances, the timing of today’s assassination was particularly remarkable. Among other things, it makes me believe that the U.S., which condemned the attack and categorically denied any role in it (See Clinton’s statement in her press conference with the Qatari Prime Minister here), was not in fact involved.* That leaves two obvious suspects: 1) Israel and 2) a faction within the Iranian regime. If there was indeed an Israeli hand behind it, the assassination was not just an effort to set back the Iran’s nuclear program and induce fear among other scientists working on it. I think it was also a provocation designed to 1) blow up prospects for progress in any p5+1 negotiations that might convene over the next month or so; 2) strengthen hard-line factions in Tehran that oppose negotiations; and 3) possibly provoke retaliation that will further escalate tensions, if not armed conflict. Of course, all three of these overlap and reinforce each other. If it was an internal Iranian faction, which, frankly, I find more difficult to believe, both 1) and 2) above also apply.
It makes sense. Everyone with a brain believes this was an Israeli op, and it’s safe to conclude that Israel wants to press us towards actual conflict.
I look forward to reading her take on the Iran assassination, you can go to the link to read a quick thought on the Afghanistan but this next quote has links to other post you may have missed about the piss tape.
It sure looks like someone is trying to make sure peace doesn’t break out in Afghanistan as well.
I’ll just float that question for now–I expect Jim or I will return to in it the coming days. For the moment, though, I just wanted to note that someone is pissing on the peace process in at least two different fronts.
Yeah… “piss on your peace!”
But wait a minute, I thought “peace is our profession?”
As far as Israel is concerned, the US is sending out warning signals: U.S. Warns Israel Against Iran Strike – WSJ.com
U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.
The high-stakes planning and diplomacy comes as U.S. officials warn Tehran, including through what administration officials described Friday as direct messages to Iran’s leaders, against provocative actions.
Tehran has warned that it could retaliate to tightened sanctions by blocking oil trade through the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to punish the perpetrators of the assassination—blamed by Iran on the U.S. and Israel—of an Iranian scientist involved in the nuclear program.
The U.S. denied the charge and condemned the attack. Israel hasn’t commented.
Sticking with Israel a bit more: Advance of the Zealots: The Growing Influence of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
Veiled women, radical rabbis and gender segregation: Israel is facing a rise in the influence of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Their efforts to impose a strictly conservative worldview have led to growing tensions with the country’s secular society. A resolution to the conflict is vital for Israel’s future.
Outside is the Judean Wilderness, the Dead Sea shimmers in the distance. Naomi Machfud is sitting inside the self-built house, dreaming about making the world disappear. She wants to cover up her face with a veil, she says, her mouth, her nose and her eyes. A black veil, without even a vision slit, one that swallows every glance and submerges the world in darkness. The veil is the pinnacle of zniut, or modesty, the closest a person can get to God. But, she says with a sigh, “unfortunately I’m not that far yet.”
But Machfud, a 30-year-old woman with six children, has already created an insulating layer of material between herself and the outside world. She is wearing a wool robe, an apron, a blouse, three floor-length corduroy skirts, a black skirt and trousers. She has a piece of black wool material wrapped loosely around her head. Underneath it is a tight, black veil, and underneath that is a pale pink veil. Not a single hair is visible. She is wearing a pair of earrings, but she takes them off when she leaves the house.
Machfud is a Jewish woman married to a Jewish man. They live in a settlement in the West Bank, but she dresses as if she lived in Afghanistan.
You can click the link to read the rest of that article…it is a long one in two parts.
Have you all heard of the scandal called “Memogate?” It regards Pakistani and US relations: ‘Memogate’ scandal deepens as American accuser threatens to tell all | World news | guardian.co.uk
The controversial American businessman at the centre of the “Memogate” scandal threatening to bring down the government of Pakistan has told the Guardian he plans to fly into the country to tell what he describes as the “unaltered truth” before the courts.
The allegations made by Mansoor Ijaz reach all the way up to President Asif Zardari, and could end up with treason charges against the country’s former US ambassador, Husain Haqqani, or even the president himself. But critics say that the charges are a fantastical and thinly-veiled attempt by the military to hound the government from power, aided by the hostile courts that have taken up the case with alacrity.
This Guardian article gives you the lowdown on this memo…give it a read. It may be big talk, it may not…but it highlights the stressful relations of the two countries.
I am sure you heard about the European Countries Downgrade of Debt Ratings Underscores Europe’s Woes – NYTimes.com
Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of France, Italy and seven other European countries on Friday, a move that may have more symbolic than fundamental financial impact but served as a reminder that Europe’s economic woes were far from over.
After Friday, the only euro zone nations retaining their top AAA ratings are Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg.
I have just a couple more global links for you…U.S. to Renew Myanmar Ties in Light of Reforms – NYTimes.com
The United States moved to restore full diplomatic relations with Myanmar on Friday, rewarding the sweeping political and economic changes that the country’s new civilian government has made, including a cease-fire with ethnic rebels and, only hours before, the release of hundreds of political prisoners.
There also is news about a grounded cruise ship: Italians launch rescue bid after cruise liner runs aground | World news | The Guardian
About 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew were being evacuated by lifeboat from a cruise ship off Italy on Friday after it ran aground and started taking in water.
The Costa Concordia got into difficulties and began listing near the island of Giglio, off Tuscany, after leaving Civitavecchia near Rome.
UPDATE, 11:55: Eight people are dead after the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off the Italian coast in an accident which forced the coast guard to evacuate over 4,000 people, AFP reports.
More than 30 people were also injured in the accident, several seriously, and several people were still missing after jumping overboard in panic as the ship began to tilt, the Messaggero newspaper said. One of the victims was a man in his 70s who died of a heart attack caused by the shock to his system when he jumped into the icy waters, reports said.
More in US news after the jump…
Okay, some of you may have noticed the awful new GMail setup that was previewed a month ago, Google has also made some changes to its search results. This change has even gotten the attention of the ACLU: Keeping “Your World” Private: Turning off Google’s New Private Search Results » Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union
Want to keep your information private now that Google has started rolling out “Search, plus Your World,” a new search results format? For those signed-in with a Google account, the new feature combines search results from the public web plus private information and photos you have shared (or have been shared with you) through Google+ or Picasa.
There are privacy implications with these expanded search results. Information or photos you have shared with people through Google+ or Picasa are now going to show up in these people’s searches — perhaps indefinitely.
I urge you to read this post over at ACLU, they also have some links to let Google know how you feel about these new privacy concerns.
Facebook announced yesterday that “every post and comment — both public and private — by a U.S. user that mentions a presidential candidate’s name will be fed through a sentiment analysis tool that spits out anonymized measures of the general U.S. Facebook population.” This analysis, along with reader polls and other information, will in turn be shared with politico.com.
The brief announcement of this new feature raises serious questions and offers few answers. Most troubling is Facebook’s willingness to search and collect users’ private political preferences and thoughts, preferences they may have shared only with their closest friend in a private email.
This raises at least three concerns. The first is that many users may not want to be part of any “sentiment analysis” or poll. For example, they may be a firm supporter of Mitt Romney but find Ron Paul’s ideas interesting. Are they now going to feel hesitant to talk about Paul’s ideas out of awareness that it might be registered as support or boost a candidate they don’t like? Second, we don’t see any mention of user consent anywhere in Facebook’s announcement. How has Facebook decided that users agreed that their personal communications can and should be used in this way?
Finally, what other uses might this information be put to in the future? Will it be used to serve users ads from politicians or manipulate voting preferences in some way? We can see the marketing materials from Facebook now: “Candidates, serve ads to secret supporters! No one knows about their preferences except their closest friends and us.”
Worse, what if this secret knowledge is used to shape messages? Users would likely not expect they are getting a Romney ad that highlights libertarianism because in the past they said something positive about Ron Paul in an email.
Sounds like a big can of worms being opened there…which leads me to this cartoon about SOPA:
And that brings me to the movie Network.
This past week, TCM featured Network. I had not seen it for over twenty years, and back then it was on a local TV movie of the week, complete with cuts and commercials.
So when I got a chance to sit and actually watch the entire movie, it made me shiver to see just how much of this movie relates to today.
Here is a clip from the movie Network, I also have the dialogue quoted underneath…
Arthur Jensen: Good morning, Mr. Beale. They tell me you’re a madman.
Arthur Jensen: I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale. I sold sewing machines and automobile parts, hair brushes and electronic equipment.
[puts arm around Beale’s shoulders]
Arthur Jensen: They say I can sell anything. I’d like to try to sell something to *you*.
Arthur Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it! Is that clear? You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
Howard Beale: Why me?
Arthur Jensen: Because you’re on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.
Howard Beale: I have seen the face of God.
Arthur Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.