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A humanitarian mission to Gaza was attacked by the Israeli navy. The
ships were trying to bring aid to the strip which has been suffering
under a blockade for months. Israeli soldiers used live rounds against
the mostly unarmed protestors, killing 4 and wounding as many as 30.

From: http://ping.fm/X16bv
President Nestor Kirchner tells Ollie Stone that Bush thought war is
good for the economy http://ping.fm/jobbn
File this one under "I hate to say I told you so..." It's no secret
that the corporate news has been over-estimating the tea-baggers for
months now. Their particular brand of white middle-class populist angst
has scared the Dickens out of the "liberal" media and given the
Murdoch's of the world that malicious gleam in their eyes. But their
political calculus - mid-term elections + national crisis + populist
anger equals opposition party landslide - has been flawed from the
start. The reasons for this are pretty straight forward. First and
foremost, there's Obama. Our first black president won the seat by
galvanizing young people and minorities. A pair that not only leans
Democratic, but when added to the traditional Democratic base can form
a considerable majority. And while it's true that the people who make
up this block are very inconsistant voters, Obama's ability to organize
them throws the whole calculation off. The results in November may well
hinge on whether or not he can get them to vote. The press seems to be
betting they won't, but the only thing you can say for certain is that
nothing this year is certain.
The second, and perhaps more important factor, are the tea-baggers
themselves. The media has been falling over itself in the race to
proclaim the movement as king-maker. But conventional wisdom on the
left has long supposed that you only have to give these people so much
rope before they hang themselves. Now it seems some in the media are
finally starting to come around to this idea. First there was Rand Paul
and the flap over his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act (???).
The media had a field day with this one, and the GOP - still desperate
to peel off some of Obama's minority voters - had to go into damage
control mode. Then there's the race in North Carolina. There the GOP is
trying to undo the early success of candidate Tim D'Annunzio. This
tea-bagger darling nearly won the nomination, but failed to secure
enough votes to avoid a run-off. Now the state party is pulling out all
the stops to keep this guy off the ballot. What is it about D'Annunzio
that has the GOP so spooked? Well, there's the claims of a former
heroin addiction and his arrest for burglary. But there's crazier
things than that. There's his belief that God would drop a 1,000 foot
pyramid on Green Land. Or that the Ark of the Covenant would be found
in Arizona. These are things that might seem like no big thing to some
voters - say, 48% of the 30% of North Carolina GOP voters who turn up
for a primary. But in a general election? Boy, that would be fun to
As the primaries unfold around the country, there certainly is a
narrative that's emerging. But it's not the one pundits seemed to be
expecting. Instead of an invigorated GOP channeling populist anger into
a sweeping victory, it's about those same populists altering the
make-up of the Republican party. In primary after primary, the very
voters the GOP tried to use to its advantage are threatening to split
the party in two - moderate, practical conservatives on one hand,
ideologically pure conservatives on the other. There may still time for
the party to regain control of it's electorate. But the way things are
going, the story arc in November might just be about how tea-baggers
managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
- Frog
Recent elections seem to be challenging the cable-news narrative of a
great Republican wave in November. First, John Murtha's seat was held
decisively by the Democrats, after weeks of speculation that it would
be another Scott Brown level catastrophe. Then, Arlen Specter lost his
first election battle in years - not to the other party, but to the
left wing of his own (adopted) party. This, more than anything, fails
to fit into the GOP-takes-all story arc. It's true that anti-incumbent
sentiment is running high, but I still fail to see how that translates
directly into GOP gains this November.

The challenge facing both parties - but especially the Republicans - is
how to fit an increasingly compartmentalized electorate into the two
party big-tent system. As information is increasingly available and
decentralized it becomes easier for individuals to find a like-minded
community. The more these associational groups emerge and try to make
their voices heard, the more difficult it will be for the two parties
to find their message. Not to get too far ahead of myself here, but we
may just be witnessing the biggest shift in our political make-up since
the beginning of the 20th century. That era saw a huge upswing in 3rd
party politics - which was only interrupted by national crises. Without
the presence of a strong ideological enemy (the Depression, the Nazi's,
the Commies, etc) it's just possible that the American party system
might break up for good. This of course, remains to be seen. But if
tea-bagger candidates fail to win big in November, it's hard to imagine
that they'll just take all that impotent rage and go home. If it can't
fit in the GOP tent, where can it?
It's an odd news day here in Seoul. ABC is carrying not one, but two
suicide related articles. The first, about the suicide of the 72 year
old head of the Doosan Group (who own my favorite Korean baseball team,
by the way) and the second about a string of apparently organized
suicides across the city. I've heard from multiple sources about the
absurdly high suicide rate, but these are the first incidents I've seen
make the papers since I've been here.

According the the article the suicide rate in 2008 was 35 per day.
That's right, I said per day. And what is the main culprit according
the National Statistics office? The economic downturn. Apparently, the
theory goes, children are so spoiled by their work-a-holic parents that
they can't deal with competition. Of course, it has nothing to do with
soul crushing academic standards or a corporate culture that prevents
parents from seeing their kids more than a few hours a week (in a
particularly galling part, the article mentions that corporations are
trying to combat this by insisting their workers leave by 6pm at least
once a month. Once a month? My, how very altruistic of you). If this is
reflective of anything it's reflective of the way Korea can't seem to
reconcile individualistic capitalism with traditionally powerful family
obligations. I've heard numerous stories from teachers here about
students who have been tracked into occupations they loath, simply
because they did well on some test in the eighth grade. If the
government really wants to tackle this problem, it's got to start
preaching less about personal obligations and creating more personal
A couple of interesting action items today (to use to the parlance of
the corporate douche-bag). First PAC Repower America has a petition
circulating to urge your senators to sign on to the Kerry-Liberman
energy bill.
Second, and perhaps of interest to netizens, is the ACLU's ongoing
petition to urge Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to take the idea of
respecting consumers' privacy a little more seriously. Maybe if we can
remind ol' Zuckie that, given an alternative, FB users can and will
defect on mass, it might just give him enough pause to backtrack on
some his more flippant privacy violations. For while people might put
up with it at the moment, developers are all ready betting that FB's
users would flock to a more privacy-friendly social networking model.
Mr. Zuckerberg is a relatively young guy, but he can't of forgotten
what his own site did to Mayspace and Friendster. On the other hand,
wild success does seem to affect the short term memory. If that's the
case, sign the petition and see if we can jog it for him.
- Frog
This is the stupidest thing I've heard in a while (outside of a
teabagger rally, anyway). Exposing kids to violent images in an effort
to keep them from becoming desensitized is completely pointless. First
it assumes that playing violent video games when you're a teen will
desensitize you to actual violence - which it doesn't. There hasn't
been a study I've heard of that suggests a causal link between game
violence and real violence. Second, even if it did, where are they
getting the idea that showing them stills will prevent desensitization?
My cousin in the marine corps told me that part of their training was
to watch slide-shows and videos of bodies and battle scenes,
specifically so they would become desensitized. This is essentially the
same plan the US government used to get kids to "just say no," to drugs
in the 1980's. Show them the drugs, teach the street names and they
won't be interested. No really. It worked wonders, I swear.
Video game and cartoons used to shock school children about violence |
Education | The Guardian
An interesting view on the state of civil society in Egypt. It's a
common misconception in the West that civil unrest in the Middle East
is primarily a fight between Islam and secular values. But this article
sheds a little light on what is really going on. It's easy to forget
that Egypt has been living under a presidential regime with "emergency"
powers pretty much continuously since 1967. A 43 year emergency? Wow,
that is emergent. This pattern of civil suppression is pretty
consistent through countries that seem to attract Islamist movements.
Egypt seems to fare better than most, but that's likely due to the fact
that they have managed to develop a civil society that at least seems
able to mount a token opposition, and may even be able to get the
decrees reversed - finally. Contrast this with places like Saudi Arabia
- where civil society has no such freedom of expression - and it
becomes easier to see why political Islam can be so appealing.
Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Egypt's state of emergency extended
A shuttle bus that runs wirelessly by following a track of magnets
embedded in the roadway. Now that is a cool idea.
Online Electric Car Debuts
One of the refrains I keep hearing over and over is the lament that the
majority party in Congress can’t seem to get their act together enough
to actually get anything done. Looking back on the Bush years, it seems
that the GOP, for all their faults at least new how to ram things down
our collective throats. Why can’t the Dems figure out how to do the
same for things that actually matter – to most of us – like healthcare
and Wall Street reform? The answer I suspect has more to do with the
man who sits in the Oval Office than the woman in the Speaker’s chair.
In nearly every way Obama has been the anti-Bush, even going so far as
to something Bush would never have dreamed of doing – treating Congress
like it matters. Now, this a personal hypothesis but it breaks down
like this; Bush-Cheney operated on the theory that the executive was
first and foremost the head of his party and they tried to use their
(GOP) congressional majorities as a blunt instrument for pursuing their
own agenda. This really pisses off the minority party (DEMS). The new
president comes in with solid majorities in both houses, vaguely
outlines his agenda and lets the Congress work out the details for
themselves. All hell breaks loose. The majority wants to give the
minority the high hard finger but the process of filling out Obama’s
MadLibs agenda breaks down amid intra-party squabbling. Meanwhile the
GOP twiddle their thumbs and just show up to say “no”. Obama expressed
a certain amount of naiveté in thinking he could rely on Congress and
it’s costing him. If he doesn’t regain control of his party soon, it
may cost them too.