“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for December 2008

Cuba at 50.

with 5 comments

BBC World Service has a tremendous programme, Brand Cuba:

“In Brand Cuba, Allan Little analyses some of the factors that have kept Cuba alive in the public imagination over such a long period.

From the iconic images of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and the five decade-long stand-off between Cuba and the United States, to an exploration of Cuba’s military exploits in Southern Africa, and the island’s unique approach to diplomacy through medical aid.”

An MP3 of the programme is here.

Also see Charlie Gillett on Cuban music.

Written by modernityblog

30/12/2008 at 02:40

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Imagine You Are The President of France.

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What would you do if you were President of France and the neighbouring state of Belgium insisted on indiscriminately firing rockets at French civilians?

Would you implore them to stop?
Would you use military measures?
Or ask neighbouring states to intervene on your behalf?

Or would you send the French army and crush any and all those connected to these “Belgium” rockets?

If it had occurred numerous times then I suspect any French President would almost be compelled to take military action, so what would you do in his place?

I imagine you know the answer, if any of the small countries in Europe launched rockets at bigger neighbouring countries what would happen?

They would be flattened and occupied, whatever the cost.

But astute readers will have seen through the parallels, instead of France you have Israel, and instead of Belgium, you have the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, have deliberately provoked this conflict and this can be seen in their research and development efforts.

Hamas’s R&D does not to improve Gazan hospitals or the quality of life for most Gazans rather they have spent the past six months developing improved rockets capable of traveling further into Israel and killing a greater number of Israelis.

We shouldn’t be under any illusion about Hamas’s intent, if they could they would willingly murder every Jew in Israel and beyond.

But for all of that I can’t agree with or support the Israeli military attacks on Gaza.

I don’t believe that they will succeed in stopping the rockets or destroying Hamas.

It is a fool’s errand to suppose that military might will lead to a political solution, which ultimately is the only way that Israel and Palestinians will ever live in peace.

Unless and until there is the desire for a political solution along the lines of the Geneva Accords I can’t see any medium-term peace being achieved.

However, having said all of that, I have no magic solution to the problem of rockets raining down on Israelis, that is within the remit of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, they are to blame for the current conflict.

My only suggestion is that a special UN force be stationed within Gaza, with the express purpose of stopping rockets being fired at Israeli civilians.

Nevertheless, given the balance of forces within the UN I would doubt that such a proposal could even get to a vote.

Israel’s incursion into Gaza may provide some short-term relief at the cost of many dead Gazans, but in the long run without a political solution more violence against Israelis is highly probable.

The desire for a military solution is almost overpowering for Israeli leaders, as it would be if China had, hypothetically, been shelled from a neighbouring state, China would have steamed in, militarily, and counted the bodies afterwards.

Thus, the Israeli leaders are not unique but in this instance they are profoundly wrong. This military conflict is wrong on so many different levels and I feel it should be opposed.

Written by modernityblog

29/12/2008 at 04:16

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A Very Merry Sol Invictus.

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The huddled masses at Modernityblog would like to wish all of our readers a pleasant Saturnalia, a merry Sol Invictus and any other peaceful festival that you wish to choose.

Written by modernityblog

24/12/2008 at 18:05

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Shoes for Hamas.

with 2 comments

Edmund Standing’s a thoughtful bloke, but in this particular instance I have to disagree with him.

I liked Muntadhar al-Zaidi improvised human art work, throwing his shoes at George W Bush.

Edmund argues that “Muntadhar al-Zaidi’s ‘protest’ was juvenile and irresponsible and did nothing to further the cause of democracy and stability in Iraq.”

Maybe so, but is that any worse than young students in Britain waving placards, to no effect, outside the Palace of Westminster.

I think shoe throwing is a real improvement on past attitudes, certainly better than suicide bombing and randomly shooting people.

All we have to do is convince the various parties in the Middle East that a bit of shoe throwing is the preferred method of political protest, instead of killing each other.

Imagine how much better things would be, if instead of firing rockets into Israel that Hamas and Islamic Jihad just threw some old shoes?

Hamas wouldn’t have to smuggle in armaments to the Gaza strip, shoes would be better as they could serve a dual role, worn by people and also as a fairly peaceful form of political expression.

Wouldn’t it be good if talking points for Hamas was whether or not to throw a cheap sandal or a Gucci shoe at Israelis, rather than trying to kill them wholesale?

Hamas’s Charter could be improved, less ranting about Jews and more about a bit of friendly show throwing.

There’s a thought?

Written by modernityblog

22/12/2008 at 18:38

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New Engage Blog.

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you remember them ? as they say:

“Engage challenges contemporary antisemitism. Contemporary antisemitism nearly always appears using the language of anti-Zionism. ‘Anti-racist’ anti-Zionism is often reckless about creating an ideological foundation for, and licensing, more openly antisemitic discourses and movements.”

well, they have a new blog


Written by modernityblog

22/12/2008 at 13:51

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Updating Links for Saturnalia.

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As people celebrate Saturnalia by proxy and are getting ready for Sol Invictus I thought I would update my links.

I am a long term reader of Dave Osler’s blog. His posts are good although the discussion in the comments boxes is often like a blast from the past, complete with archaic political language, obvious fallacies and a detachment from reality. Still read him, not the relics in the comments boxes, that includes me.

I wouldn’t count myself as a Green by a long stretch, although the effects of climate change were fairly obvious from the late 1980s and I even started using rolls-ons rather than aerosols on account of the CFCs.

If like Green issues then the Daily (Maybe) is for you. The proprietor, Jim, a Green activist, has a diverse range of political interests and his posts become more and more relevant as the days go on.
[Note to self: post on alternative energy and nuclear power.]

Whilst Charlie McMenamin at Excuse Me Whilst I Step Outside sends his Seasonal Greetings, Party style! Charlie writes thoughtful posts, I enjoyed this one.

Written by modernityblog

21/12/2008 at 20:11

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Spam and Unwanted Comments.

with 7 comments

Anyone with a blog and a published email address will get spam, and occasionally silly comments, that’s what happens when you have a blog.

WordPress tends to handle most of them, but recently the volume of spam has increased several fold, and now I tend just to delete it.

So if you’ve posted a comment that has not appeared then I apologise, email me directly and I’ll manually add the comment.

Additionally, I’d like to make something clear, I don’t get many commenters (there are many better blogs) but recently some rather dim witted and nasty fans of David Duke have found my blog. These would-be Adolf’s are surprised that their poorly written, unintelligent racist comments are spammed by WordPress and deleted.

That’s the way it is.

I shouldn’t have to explain it, but I don’t have any time for mindless neo-Nazis, Aryan Nation creeps, White Power freaks, BNPers or apologists for David Duke’s vile views.

The problem is, that Jew haters and Jew baiters by their very nature are a bit twisted in the head and largely incapable of understanding why no one shares their obnoxious views.

Such comments will be deleted without a moment’s regret. I don’t believe in giving neo-Nazis or their friends any free publicity.

Written by modernityblog

18/12/2008 at 23:04

Posted in Uncategorized