A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"







March 9th
4:20 PM

Dan Ariely and Michael Norton’s 2011 study on wealth inequality went viral on YouTube this week…  >continue<

November 19th
3:20 PM

"The day the president of the United States decides to put an end to the occupation, it will cease."

Interview with Gideon Levy by Johann Hari

Gideon Levy is the most hated man in Israel – and perhaps the most heroic. This “good Tel Aviv boy” – a sober, serious child of the Jewish state – has been shot at repeatedly by the Israeli Defence Force, been threatened with being “beaten to a pulp” on the country’s streets, and faced demands from government ministers that he be tightly monitored as “a security risk.” This is because he has done something very simple, and something that almost no other Israeli has done. Nearly every week for three decades, he has travelled to the Occupied Territories and described what he sees, plainly and without propaganda. “My modest mission,” he says, “is to prevent a situation in which many Israelis will be able to say, ‘We didn’t know.’” And for that, many people want him silenced.

…“My biggest struggle,” he says, “is to rehumanize the Palestinians. There’s a whole machinery of brainwashing in Israel which really accompanies each of us from early childhood, and I’m a product of this machinery as much as anyone else. [We are taught] a few narratives that it’s very hard to break. That we Israelis are the ultimate and only victims. That the Palestinians are born to kill, and their hatred is irrational. That the Palestinians are not human beings like us… So you get a society without any moral doubts, without any questions marks, with hardly public debate. >continue<

2:24 PM

Calibrated Disgust: Gaza, agony & contradiction

The Agonies of Susan Rice: Gaza and the Negroponte Doctrine
Vijay Prashad  |  Jadaliyya »

In the dark of night, on 14 November, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. As elections in Israel are on the horizon, the Israeli Defense Force conducted an extra-judicial assassination of Hamas’ Ahmad Jabari, who only hours beforehand had received a draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel (according to Nir Hasson at Haaretz). Jabari’s assassination was followed by a barrage by Israeli aircraft and warships. A few rockets were fired from Gaza, but these have had a negligible impact. The war on Gaza is not between two armed forces, even matched, each flying the flag of a country; it is a war between a major military power and a people that it has occupied, whose means of warfare used to be the suicide bomber and has now devolved to the erratic rockets (propelled by sugar and potassium nitrate, a fertilizer, and made deadly by TNT and urea nitrate, another fertilizer). Most of the rockets fired over the past two days have been intercepted by Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome system. No such luck for the Palestinians, who have faced US-designed F16 jetfighters and Apache helicopters and have no defensive systems.  >continue<

June 19th
4:57 PM
Via
socialuprooting:

U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts, officials say
The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected critical intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage attacks aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.
The massive piece of malware was designed to secretly map Iran’s computer networks and monitor the computers of Iranian officials, sending back a steady stream of intelligence used to enable an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign, according to the officials.
The effort, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, has included the use of destructive software such as the so-called Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment.
The emerging details about Flame provide new clues about what is believed to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States.
“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. “Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”

related: Curated Stuxnet &amp; Cyberwar stories

socialuprooting:

U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts, officials say

The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected critical intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage attacks aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.

The massive piece of malware was designed to secretly map Iran’s computer networks and monitor the computers of Iranian officials, sending back a steady stream of intelligence used to enable an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign, according to the officials.

The effort, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, has included the use of destructive software such as the so-called Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment.

The emerging details about Flame provide new clues about what is believed to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States.

“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. “Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”

related: Curated Stuxnet & Cyberwar stories

February 13th
11:57 AM

Iran Worried U.S. Might Be Building 8,500th Nuclear Weapon

Onion »

TEHRAN—Amidst mounting geopolitical tensions, Iranian officials said Wednesday they were increasingly concerned about the United States of America’s uranium-enrichment program, fearing the Western nation may soon be capable of producing its 8,500th nuclear weapon. “Our intelligence estimates indicate that, if it is allowed to progress with its aggressive nuclear program, the United States may soon possess its 8,500th atomic weapon capable of reaching Iran,” said Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, adding that Americans have the fuel, the facilities, and ”everything they need” to manufacture even more weapons-grade fissile material. ”Obviously, the prospect of this happening is very distressing to Iran and all countries like Iran. After all, the United States is a volatile nation that’s proven it needs little provocation to attack anyone anywhere in the world whom it perceives to be a threat.” Iranian intelligence experts also warned of the very real, and very frightening, possibility of the U.S. providing weapons and resources to a rogue third-party state such as Israel.

December 22nd
5:58 PM

How Germany Builds Twice as Many Cars as the U.S. While Paying Its Workers Twice as Much

Forbes »

How can that be? The question is explored in a new article from Remapping Debate, a public policy e-journal. Its author, Kevin C. Brown, writes that “the salient difference is that, in Germany, the automakers operate within an environment that precludes a race to the bottom; in the U.S., they operate within an environment that encourages such a race.”  >continue<

A tale of two systems

October 4th
12:28 PM
Via

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

To put it bluntly, every single chapter in the history of the extension of U.S. power has opened with the same sentence: “Innocent Americans were treacherously attacked…”

In the name of “innocent Americans,” the United States annexed Hawaii and Puerto Rico; colonized the Philippines; punished nationalism in North Africa and China; invaded Mexico (twice); sent a generation to the killing fields of France (and imprisoned dissenters at home); massacred patriots in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua; annihilated Japanese cities; bombed Korea and Indochina into rubble; buttressed military dictatorships in Latin America; and became Israel’s partner in the routine murder of Arab civilians. >continue<

September 24th
2:24 AM
Via
"Partners, allies do not talk to each other through the public. This is something that we took up, we have taken up with the US and if this continues the only way we have to interpret this is that this is the policy decision of the US. Then we have the right to be able to take our own policy decisions. We want to partner with the US. We have said this repeatedly. This is a complex problem. Looking for scapegoats, blame-games will not help. I just hope that we’ll be given a chance to be able to cooperate with each other and the doors will remain open because statements like this are pretty much close to shutting those doors."
September 21st
1:01 PM
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama met on Tuesday in New York
Erdoğan and Obama in tune over counterterrorism, Syria sanctions

Speaking to reporters at a press conference following the meeting, Erdoğan stated that his one-and-a-half-hour meeting with Obama focused primarily on counterterrorism efforts and added that Obama vowed to support Turkey in its fight against the PKK [Kurdistan Workers&#8217; Party]
The US administration is likely to agree to a Turkish request to base its unmanned drones in Turkey after the US withdrawal from Iraq, Erdoğan added.
“I think there will be no problem regarding the Predators issue,” he said.
Erdoğan said. Speaking to reporters, the prime minister disclosed that Turkey is considering sanctions on Syria and will coordinate its actions with the United States in this regard.
“I terminated my contacts with the Syrian administration. We never wished to arrive this point but unfortunately the Syrian administration has led us here,” he said, noting that his government had ended contacts with the Syrian administration. Erdoğan said Turkey is now preparing sanctions on Syria and said the preparations will be coordinated with the US.  &gt;continue&lt;

The focus of the piece is on the PKK, with some interesting Greek Cypriot and Israel resource exploration thrown in for good measure. Not so between the lines is a quid quo pro: Predators and help against the PKK (a focus that Wikileaks cables reveal going way back) and we&#8217;ll synchronize against Syria and maybe cool some jets vis a vis Israel. Turkey is a player.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama met on Tuesday in New York

Erdoğan and Obama in tune over counterterrorism, Syria sanctions

Speaking to reporters at a press conference following the meeting, Erdoğan stated that his one-and-a-half-hour meeting with Obama focused primarily on counterterrorism efforts and added that Obama vowed to support Turkey in its fight against the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party]

The US administration is likely to agree to a Turkish request to base its unmanned drones in Turkey after the US withdrawal from Iraq, Erdoğan added.

“I think there will be no problem regarding the Predators issue,” he said.

Erdoğan said. Speaking to reporters, the prime minister disclosed that Turkey is considering sanctions on Syria and will coordinate its actions with the United States in this regard.

“I terminated my contacts with the Syrian administration. We never wished to arrive this point but unfortunately the Syrian administration has led us here,” he said, noting that his government had ended contacts with the Syrian administration. Erdoğan said Turkey is now preparing sanctions on Syria and said the preparations will be coordinated with the US.  >continue<

The focus of the piece is on the PKK, with some interesting Greek Cypriot and Israel resource exploration thrown in for good measure. Not so between the lines is a quid quo pro: Predators and help against the PKK (a focus that Wikileaks cables reveal going way back) and we’ll synchronize against Syria and maybe cool some jets vis a vis Israel. Turkey is a player.

September 2nd
8:02 AM

Deputy Knesset speaker to Clinton: Declare Turkey a terror-supporting state

Following a Turkish ultimatum warning Israel to apologize for the raid of the Mavi Marmara or face snactions, Likud MK Danny Danon on Thursday sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on Washington to declare Turkey a “terror-supporting state.”


"Turkey has gotten closer to Iran and constitutes a direct continuation of the axis of evil. The government in Washington must answer the Turkish problem before it is too late."

August 8th
1:55 PM

Squishy Debt Concepts, alternate frames of reference

If you think the debt crisis is bad now … 

For all our obsessing about it, the national debt is a singularly bad way of measuring the nation’s financial condition. It includes only a small portion of the nation’s total liabilities. And it’s focused on the past. An honest assessment of the country’s projected revenue and expenses over the next generation would show a reality different from the apocalyptic visions conjured by both Democrats and Republicans during the debt-ceiling debate. It would be much worse… 

The language we use is part of the problem. Every would-be budget balancer in Washington should read “On the General Relativity of Fiscal Language,” a brilliant 2006 paper by economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff of Boston University and Jerry Green of Harvard University… >continue<

Kotlikoff: 'Double Our Taxes' 

Kotlikoff, who’s ideas feature prominently in the linked piece, has been a supporter of the controversial FairTax proposal. But it appears his work is serious enough to absorb while suspending judgement on that issue.

July 27th
12:20 PM
Russia threatens to wreck the reset

Russia has threatened the Obama administration that it will end cooperation on Iran and prevent the transfer of material to Afghanistan if Congress passes a law criticizing Russian human rights practices&#8230;

"Senior Russian government officials have warned us that they will respond asymmetrically if legislation passes," the document stated. "Their argument is that we cannot expect them to be our partner in supporting sanctions against countries like Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and sanction them at the same time. Russian officials have said that other areas of bilateral cooperation, including on transit Afghanistan, could be jeopardized if this legislation passes." &gt;continue&lt;

See also recent former Indian Foreign Service analysis regarding Syria, the Black Sea and Russian &#8220;reset&#8221;.

Russia threatens to wreck the reset

Russia has threatened the Obama administration that it will end cooperation on Iran and prevent the transfer of material to Afghanistan if Congress passes a law criticizing Russian human rights practices…

"Senior Russian government officials have warned us that they will respond asymmetrically if legislation passes," the document stated. "Their argument is that we cannot expect them to be our partner in supporting sanctions against countries like Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and sanction them at the same time. Russian officials have said that other areas of bilateral cooperation, including on transit Afghanistan, could be jeopardized if this legislation passes." >continue<

See also recent former Indian Foreign Service analysis regarding Syria, the Black Sea and Russian “reset”.

July 16th
12:24 PM
New Great Game in Afghanistan

Today, Afghanistan&#8217;s natural resources are estimated to be worth billions of dollars. The resources in the neighboring Central Asian states are thought to be worth even more - the cake is huge and as yet largely untouched. &#8230;The Chinese government has been conducting an offensive &#8220;shopping spree&#8221; in Afghanistan and other Central Asian states for some time now. To Washington&#8217;s displeasure, Beijing was able to secure the exploitation rights for the region&#8217;s biggest copper mine, by shelling out three billion dollars. Now, fully-laden trucks head from the mine in eastern Afghanistan to China on roads built by the Americans.  &gt;continue&lt;

Vast Mineral Riches  |  New Oil Deposits in Afghanistan
“We do the heavy lifting&#8230;they pick the fruit”

New Great Game in Afghanistan

Today, Afghanistan’s natural resources are estimated to be worth billions of dollars. The resources in the neighboring Central Asian states are thought to be worth even more - the cake is huge and as yet largely untouched.

…The Chinese government has been conducting an offensive “shopping spree” in Afghanistan and other Central Asian states for some time now. To Washington’s displeasure, Beijing was able to secure the exploitation rights for the region’s biggest copper mine, by shelling out three billion dollars. Now, fully-laden trucks head from the mine in eastern Afghanistan to China on roads built by the Americans.  >continue<

Vast Mineral Riches  |  New Oil Deposits in Afghanistan

“We do the heavy lifting…they pick the fruit”

July 6th
8:58 AM

10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes

Here is some advice on how to avoid the mistakes of my generation of Americans, who have perhaps fatally undermined our constitution and turned ourselves into a corporation-dominated national security state….

It is probably too late for us. The aggregate of changes in US law and practice in favor of corporatocracy and the national security state is so extensive and powerful that our constitution has been overwhelmed. We have 2 million people in jail, in a vast gulag, some of them for minor offenses and others for being the wrong color…

… We used to have something much more like a democracy. Maybe we can learn from you how to safeguard something so precious.  >juancole.com<