Politics & Government

The activities of nations and states, and the people and organizations who control them.

World on Fire: Bahrain, Iran Join the Fray

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government
Bahrain demonstrates in solidarity with Egypt
Bahrain demonstrates in solidarity with Egypt

If the media are to be believed, there are literally dozens of countries around the world which are primed and ready to go up in flames. It all started in Tunisia, when a fruit seller set himself on fire and ignited a revolution that sent President Ben Ali packing. This inspired two-plus weeks of street protests in Egypt, which led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Ongoing demonstrations include those in Algeria, which have been recently invigorated after seeing the success of Tunisia and Egypt's protestors, and thousands in Yemen demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

The latest countries to see protests are Iran, where police on Monday used tear gas and batons on protestors, and Bahrain, where police have opened fire on a funeral procession for a victim of previous violence.… Continues …

What Are Mubarak's Chances?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government
He's doomed
64% (7 votes)
He'll remain in power
36% (4 votes)
Total votes: 11

Changing Perspectives: Can Mubarak Hold On to Power?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government
President George W. Bush and Egyptian Presiden...

Image via Wikipedia

Not-so-doomed?

Many of us have spent the last couple of weeks enthralled by the events unfolding in Egypt. The developments have been coming so fast and furious that it has seemed almost impossible to write an article about it — anything I write would be out-of-date almost before it's published. That said, I have noticed an interesting change in the media narrative regarding Mubarak's outlook for survival.

In the early days of the current unrest, most of the news articles seemed to assume that regime change in Egypt was inevitable. It was really just a matter of time until Mubarak would be unseated. The most over-used word of the week was "clinging", "clung", or variations thereof. Obama and his administration felt confident enough to issue typically ambiguous (yet still crystal clear) statements that change "must begin now" and that the people had to be heard.

The writing was on the wall. Change was at hand; it was the Arab world's 1989 revolution. Israel's Haaretz newspaper went so far as to say that Obama would "go down in history as the president who lost Egypt".… Continues …

Gulags in the Land of the Free

— Filed under: Politics & Government, Opinion
The prisoner's dilemma is an example of game t...

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"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever" - from George Orwell's 1984

For millions of Americans this is their future. How else can you describe a person's future as a prisoner of the American Prison Industrial complex? Take a look at the facts and figures and what you will find is incredibly frightening and something needs to be done about it.

I'm not saying that people who commit horrible crimes shouldn't be locked up but when one in every 18 men are either behind bars or being monitored there is something wrong in society. As of June 2009[update], 2,297,400 were incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails  This means America, the land of the free, has the worlds largest prison population. The worst part is that although crime rates have declined by about 25 percent from 1988-2008 the Prison population has increased dramatically in same period. This cost the states $47 billion dollars in 2008.… Continues …

Murder of John P. Wheeler Connected to Mass Bird Deaths?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, Science & Technology

Death

Last week, a celebrated and influential Pentagon insider and defense contractor was found dead in Delaware. The body of John P. Wheeler was discovered as a garbage truck dumped its load at a landfill. The death has been ruled a homicide, and thus far the investigators who are piecing together the case have offered no clear motive or reason for his mysterious murder.

In seemingly unrelated news, there has been a sudden die-off of birds and fish in the southern United States that has a lot of people talking about the apocalypse. First 5,000 blackbirds plummeted to the earth in Arkansas, littering the ground with their corpses and even hitting passers-by. Then a few days later, 500 red-winged blackbirds and starlings were found dead in nearby Louisiana. And 80,000 drum fish died in an Arkansas river close to where the blackbirds died.… Continues …

Afghanistan Is A Lost Cause

— Filed under: Politics & Government, Opinion
President Barack Obama with Afghanistan Presid...

Image via Wikipedia

Today in the News US President Obama said progress was sufficient to permit a "responsible reduction" of US forces to begin in July.

I'd like to ask what progress? Afghanistan still is by far the worlds largest producer of opium and has the 2nd most corrupt government in the world. Transparency International rates only one country, Somalia, as worse.

The cornerstone of the coalition strategy in Afghanistan calls for the Afghan government to eventually take over security and to provide stronger government institutions and services. How can this happen though in a country where the police set up checkpoints and stop cars demanding payment for permission to pass. In 2009, Afghan citizens had to pay approximately US$ 2.5 billion in bribes, which is equivalent to 23 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).… Continues …

Revolting youths!

— Filed under: Politics & Government
Nick Clegg election homepage for libdems.org.uk

Image by Rob Fenwick via Flickr

The recent peaceful demonstrations planned by the NUS in response to the Lib Dems U-Turn on tuition fees have all turned sour resulting in a blame game between the students and the Police. The NUS and it seems the mass media have blamed a mixture of heavy handedness on the part of the Police and the hijacking of non-student youths with various mixed agendas.

I feel, as opposed to the notion of these hijackers being organised anarchists and the like the whole affair is the resultant “spilling over”, of tensions between generations.

For so long the youths (yoofs) of our society have been marginalised and pilloried by a succession of reactionary governments and mainstream media resulting in a socio-political shift in the collective consciousness of the country which instead of encouraging and nurturing our future generations, serves only to demonise, alienate and disenfranchise them resulting in an unprecedented lack of trust between “them” and “us”.… Continues …

Wikileaks: What's The Point?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, Science & Technology
 History Is The Only Guidebook Civil...

Image by Fräulein Schiller via Flickr

As much as I like the idea of a rebellious man-without-a-country causing grief to all the world's governments in the name of freedom, I must admit I'm having some serious misgivings in light of the latest Wikileaks' release.

I'll let you read about the latest bombshells at the New York Times special section or The Guardian. What I'm having trouble with is understanding exactly how these leaks are supposed to help anyone. I'm not alone. As Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor of the The Atlantic puts it:

"What responsibility does Assange have to this country? Does American media exist to serve the immediate good of the American public? Or is there some longer, greater, good in disclosing these dispatches? Is information, in and of itself, good?"

"No Disassemble!"

— Filed under: Politics & Government
Flank photo of Johnny 5 robot from the Short C...

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As an aviation enthusiast I have been aware of the development of the increasing autonomy of military technology for a number of years. In the apparent pursuit of making life easier for pilots by decreasing their workload has morphed into a sinister beast however and we are at the point where a number of seemingly disparate technological military advances could converge and make sci-fi like future conflicts a reality.

What follows is a run-down of the areas I find a concern.

UAV/UAS

UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)/Unmanned Aircraft Systems technology is a relatively new direction, where the pilots fly the aircraft as though are on board (following all rules of the air) themselves but are actually in front of a screen flying the aircraft remotely. Initially UAV’s were envisaged as a means of assisting the air power forces by providing “spy” roles such as finding targets and relaying the info to the correct arm of the air power wing and then providing imagery of the aftermath of any strike operations. The most developed UAV is the RQ-1 Predator, initially designed for reconnaissance purposes. In the winter 2000-2001 (post 9/11) tests were conducted with the view of arming Predators with Hellfire missiles (a lightweight but highly effective and accurate missile as used on AH64 Apachehelicopters), these tests culminated in the successful test attack on a stationary tank with 3 missiles. The head of the CIA at the time after seeing how successfully the Predators reconnaissance of Afghanistan was vocal in his support of the arming programme and had the updates accelerated so as to target Osama Bin Laden.  The armed version was re-designated MQ-1 and software and technological upgrades are frequently applied. They have launched hundreds of attacks during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom with some moderate success; however a large number have been destroyed for varying reasons. The Bae System Taranisis the latest development in UAV, it even looks nasty!… Continues …

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