ModernityBlog

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

Archive for March 2011

Dolphins, Whales And Kangaroos.

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I should probably cover more environmental matters, as way of recompense, I thought my readers might like this, someone has developed toothpaste for kangaroos:

[H/T:Jennifer Lipman]

Elsewhere the news is not so good, it seems that dolphins and whales may have suffered more from BP’s negligence than was first thought, Mother Jones has more:

“Consider, for example, one sperm whale being detected as a carcass, and a necropsy identified oiling as a contributing factor in the whale’s death. If the carcass-detection rate for sperm whales is 3.4%, then it is plausible that 29 sperm whale deaths represents the best estimate of total mortality, given no additional information. If, for example, 101 cetacean carcasses were recovered overall, and all deaths were attributed to oiling, the average-recovery rate (2%) would translate to 5,050 carcasses, given the 101 carcasses detected.”

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31/03/2011 at 20:46

Julian Assange In L’Espresso.

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The Italian and Internet readers of L’Espresso had the chance to question Julian Assange, a bit.

I haven’t read it but it might contain something interesting, please let me know if you find any nuggets.

Still, I wonder if we will ever get a full answer as to the communications and links between Assange and Israel Shamir, the Far Rightist.

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31/03/2011 at 01:07

NASA Snaps Of Mercury.

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31/03/2011 at 00:53

Jhate And Mark Webber.

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For anyone genuinely interested in antiracism the Jhate blog is required reading, it neatly covers the activities of an assorted bunch of cranks and racist, but also their underlying thinking.

I was particularly interested in a new post which mentioned Mark Weber of the IHR:

“Probably the most interesting part of the show was a monologue about American history school textbooks and how they had changed over the years. His choice of examples to illustrate how the textbooks had changed over the years were revealing: the Ku Klux Klan, which used to be accorded some respect by the textbooks; immigration, which used to be treated with caution but is now celebrated; and of course the Holocaust. Weber made much of the fact that textbooks didn’t discuss the Holocaust until the 1960s, when there was a “methodical, well-organized campaign to rewrite” them. Weber didn’t deny the Holocaust in this episode. The final section of the show was devoted to bashing Israel and the “Jewish-Zionist lobby” in the US and cheering for Helen Thomas.

Don’t miss the piece on Society of St. Pius X.

Gao Zhisheng.

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The Index on Censorship has a piece on Gao Zhisheng, his wife recalls:

“In 2007, officials subjected him to electric shocks, held lighted cigarettes up to his eyes and pierced his genitals with toothpicks. In 2009, the police beat him with handguns for two days. He has been tied up and forced to sit motionless for hours, threatened with death and told that our children were having nervous breakdowns.”

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29/03/2011 at 22:49

PJ Crowley On Bradley Manning.

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Being sacked for saying what you know to be true is a bit more than annoying, and in this instance rather surprising when you consider what position in the State Department that PJ Crowley held.

He was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

He was the public face of the State Department, and so his criticism of Bradley Manning’s humiliating treatment holds all the more veracity and force.

PJ Crowley is not some chicken-livered-do-gooding-liberal, he’s an ex-military man who would like to see Bradley Manning prosecuted and presumably locked up for decades and decades.

But even he can see how the treatment meted out to Manning is not only degrading but stupid, he writes in the Guardian:

“Based on 30 years of government experience, if you have to explain why a guy is standing naked in the middle of a jail cell, you have a policy in need of urgent review. The Pentagon was quick to point out that no women were present when he did so, which is completely beside the point.

The issue is a loss of dignity, not modesty.

Our strategic narrative connects our policies to our interests, values and aspirations. While what we do, day in and day out, is broadly consistent with the universal principles we espouse, individual actions can become disconnected. Every once in a while, even a top-notch symphony strikes a discordant note. So it is in this instance.

The Pentagon has said that it is playing the Manning case by the book. The book tells us what actions we can take, but not always what we should do. Actions can be legal and still not smart. With the Manning case unfolding in a fishbowl-like environment, going strictly by the book is not good enough. Private Manning’s overly restrictive and even petty treatment undermines what is otherwise a strong legal and ethical position.”

Gaddafi Leaving?

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There is a suggestion in the papers that Gaddafi might be leaving, which would be a good outcome overall for Libyans.

Where would he go? Maybe Latin America? Italy? Not sure he’ll want to remain in Africa as the Guardian suggests, lest his days are numbered.

The problem isn’t really him, and although we know that dictators cling on to the last vestiges of power to the end, the issue is, his sons.

One of his sons was destined to take over the family business of running Libya, much like the monarchies of old and that is something they won’t want to give up, so whilst it might be possible to pension off Colonel Gadaffi, his sons are a different matter.

Will they fight to the end? I don’t know, I hope not, but avarice and power are terrible masters.

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29/03/2011 at 00:58