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Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

In an effort to distract me from some frustrating problems of a personal nature, God has tonight, plagued me with not only a roommate’s cat that refuses to sleep on any surface that isn’t my neck, but also with a fire alarm at 2:15 in the morning that didn’t stop until just recently.  I just got back from standing outside in light rain and I don’t have an umbrella.  I’m awake!  I’m awake for all the worst reasons!   Are you happy now?

x_x

Now the cat’s back.

 

Anyways,

 

A Bloody Sunday in Cairo

I feel strangely apologetic to Egypt after reading about this.  As if the West has promised you some magical cure-all called “Democracy” and it turns out that we can’t really help at all.  All we have done is shifted power and brought to surface a new plague of issues you are not prepared to deal with.  I’m already wincing at what might be next, because if this ends badly for Egypt during the November elections, then what has/will everyone in Libya, Syria, Bahrain be dying for?

Maybe we are just sham salesmen selling a faulty product.  I may or may not be overly pessimistic because of sleeplessness, but now I’ma try to do something about that after attempt number three.

Over and out!

 

 

 

 

 

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Iran’s Wet Blankets Put a Damper on Water-Park Fun

 

I don’t really have much to add, except that given my recent fascination with starting a new brand of burlesque titled “poli-strip” (and Bahareh’s Persian heritage), I got really excited by this link.  Maybe some sort of a wet-t-shirt routine that is broken up by a slutty cop?  Eh?  Eh???

It looks much better in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I wonder if one of biggest reasons why certain children’s fairy tales is so popular, is because you have pretty clearly defined roles.  If you are a wicked stepmother, and that’s your full time job?  You’ve got a comparative advantage at being evil.  Your evil factor is far superior to everyone else’s.  So one must ask the question, if she was such a bitch in the first place, what did Cinderella’s dad see in her?  Was he emotionally distraught over the loss of his first wife?  On the rebound?  Must have been a Vegas Wedding.  Yep, that explains the lack of character judgement.

. . . . Moving on, it’s easy in storytelling to have really good, and really bad characters.  Humans seem to be fixated on the idea of binaries, because our brains can’t possibly process more than two character states at the same time.  Our obsession with binaries puts a damper on our ability to see both the good and bad qualities in other people.  Real people, with real flaws.

When the Sean Avery PSA announcement came out, people didn’t know what to think.  This is of course, because in hockey, he’s supposed to be a total asshole.  How can an asshole do anything as awesome as championing marriage equality in the most homophobic culture in North America?  I’ve become somewhat fixated on him as probably one of the most interesting guys in the NHL.  Too bad he plays for New York, and I have to hate him.

Avery’s made his contradiction work for him because of his rep as a douche.  I’m sure he probably doesn’t care too much about what other people say, and that makes it easy to say what he thinks.  I do think this is an exception, rather than a rule.  However, like the rule, his reputation makes it difficult for people to hear a message that he delivers, despite its validity.

This morning, it was revealed that porn was found on Osama Bin Laden’s computer during the cleanout.

Osama bin Laden: Porn Collector?

Porn found in bin Laden hideout: US Officials

What’s a little disheartening about that is that the overwhelming media reaction from this seems to be “Osama is a hypocrite.”   This seems to have fueled a lot of ridicule directed at a dead man.   What is overlooked is that, whether or not he is a hypocrite, his original opinion on pornography and the West’s treatment of women holds a lot of validity.

“Your nation exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools, calling upon customers to purchase them.

You plaster your naked daughters across billboards in order to sell a product without any shame. You have brainwashed your daughters into believing they are liberated by wearing revealing clothes, yet in reality all they have liberated is your sexual desire.”

I’d say that that’s pretty accurate.  It may be easy to dismiss everything a terrorist says as ridiculous, but it makes me really sad how people think that they can repost his quote and brand him a hypocrite without giving a second thought to the pretty powerful insight he had into a Western brand of misogyny.  Just because he killed many people, just because he’s considered a “villain” in America, doesn’t mean that none of his words hold any truth.   Just because he’s a terrorist, doesn’t mean American values are perfect.  Just because “they” are wrong doesn’t mean “we” are right.

O yeah, remember this trainwreck? Bin Laden didn't have a point at all.

I’d prefer to live in a world where heroes can speak false words and villains can hold great insight.  Because in that world, words carry their own worth, distinct from mouths from which they arise.

On a marginally related note, I just did a photoshoot and saw the magic of photoshop.  Seriously.  Without lifting a finger, I was ten pounds lighter, with windier hair and shinier pants.  I know your secret now, swimsuit billboard ads, you can’t fool me anymore!!!

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On the lawfulness of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  If you haven’t heard of it by now, Osama is dead.  Yeah, that’s right.  He’s now chilling somewhere on the bottom of the ocean floor, no doubt hanging out with Megatron, the Jack Dawson, and the Loch Ness Monster.

http://www.economist.com/node/18651636?story_id=18651636

There’s some criticism of whether or not Osama Bin Laden was legally killed.  He was killed by American forces outside of America.  There’s no way to suggest that he was still a direct threat to America (since he’s dead and can’t stand trial), and then there’s reason to believe that he may not have even been armed.

I’m surprised that after a decade long “war on terror,” and what I am assuming to be a comparably long manhunt for Bin Laden, it never occurred to the legal branch of the US military as to plan out how they would deal with him when they found him.  Or how they would cover their asses legally.  I have a number of questions about this.  Given an American history of intervening in international affairs, as well as in killing or supporting the killing of country leaders, why do they feel the need to justify it now? What has changed?  I’m going to guess-answer my own question by saying that most other operations are done covertly, and that Americans have a special interest in seeing this guy dead, and Barack Obama has a special interest in seeing his name attached to this guy’s death somehow.  So if you got him, flaunt it.

It is also deliciously ironic that Barack Obama’s decision to send in a ground force to kill Osama, rather than using airstrikes for reasons of the humane variety are coming back in the form of criticism about the legality of it.  Then the article hints that maybe if he hadn’t been such a nice guy, there’d be no reason to question whether or not Osama could have surrendered, and therefore no case against assassination.  I believe that Obama did the right thing by keeping drones out of the picture though, whether or not it will cost him.

The most delicious of all would have to be the fact that Obama’s the champion of Guantanamo reform.  My gut tells me that the operation intended to kill Osama – since evidence suggests it was really a one-sided fight – rather than take him prisoner (maybe it is cheaper that way).  That would mean that the intention was to deny him due process of the law that Obama was advocating for other prisoners.  Now he gets to take a lion’s share of credit in this?  It feels really cheap to me.  Either way, now that Bin Laden is out of the picture, there’s nothing left to unite America against a common enemy and prevent a downward spiral into tabloid style bipartisanship in politics.  O wait . . . .

Sidenote: Bin Laden was like, some kind of freakonomics genius!  He did calculate how many Americans would have to die in order for the US to withdraw from the Middle East.  Too bad he couldn’t use his powers for good, if I were him, I’d take that kind of razor sharp analytical thinking and get that published . . .

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Koran Burning Prompts Third Day of Rage

 

An interesting take on the recent instability over the actions of an obscure, troll-like pastor called Terry Jones.   Jones once had the honour of influencing about 30 in his church, but he now enjoys a following of hundreds of thousands of angry mobsters an ocean away.  Thanks to an internet video of him burning the book, it has apparently set up the murders of U.N. staff in Afghanistan, some of whom were killed while running from their bunkers, trying to escape the angry mob.

Thought that this article highlighted an interesting point about the kinds of alters at which we all like to worship.  I think in high school, the most interesting thing that happened in ninth grade was when my social studies teacher challenged me (well, the class) on what I thought of child marriage.  Somehow the discussion moved towards individualism vs. collectivism, the importance of group preservation in our society and around the world, and how we sometimes value things differently.  This Terry Jones incident just brought back part of that for me.  What the article is saying is that while America claims to be a secular state, we all have our “religion.”  In this case, it happens to be individual liberties.   What happens when you have something like the Danish cartoon incident, and you are pitting one religion’s core value against another’s?  What if there’s no middle ground?  So far, it appears like the options are mutually exclusive; appeasing one side is a direct attack on the other.

Regardless of whether or not the dust will settle soon in Afghanistan over this, it’s clear that America can’t go anywhere near Terry Jones.  He can’t be arrested, he can’t be censored.  So I will be curious to see how this clash of two value systems plays out over the next few decades.

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Lately it feels like every nation in the Middle East is imploding.  And the latest news is that religious considerations have been added to the sweet sweet medley of oil, internal economic troubles, foreign intervention and politics.

In a show of solidarity and muscle, Saudi and Emirati troops are now rolling into Bahrain, and the country that has been relatively ignored compared to Libya and Egypt has been using violent force and kicking major ass to quell the protests.  Groups have been reporting everything from disappearances, to jailings, people getting shot in Pearl Square, the takeover of a hospital and beatings of those treating injured protesters, etc.

http://www.economist.com/node/18400600

What. the. fuck.  If the reports are accurate, there is some crazy shit going down.  Where’s the UN intervention on this one?

Maybe one of the most ironic moments, so darkly ironic that for someone with a really terrible/unfortunate sense of humor such as myself would find funny, is the diplomacy war between Iran and Bahrain.  I’m getting the news that Iran is actually critical of Bahrain for using military force to shut down government protesters.  Iran. I just had to requote this part of the BBC article from the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman,

Referring to the “legitimate demands of the population”, he said that the “repression of peaceful protests and illogical actions only aggravate the crisis and deepen wounds”

Bahrain and Iran expel diplomats

I laughed at how hilarious and awful this entire thing was until my eyes got watery.  Double purpose crying is awesome!

Anyways, Bahrain gave Iran the proverbial finger and told her to mind her own business, and then ejected the Iranian ambassador, which led to a retaliatory boot for the Bahraini,( Bahrainian, Bahr . . . I give up) ambassador.  The interesting thing about the Middle East and the United States is that religion actually features quite prominently in the decisions of the policy makers.  It got George Dubya reelected.  I’m just not used to it playing any sort of a significant role in Chinese or Canadian politics.  But the criticism coming from Iran seems to stem from the protesters in Bahrain being from the Shia majority, and Iran is mainly Shia.  It just adds another layer of complexity to an already tense situation.  Can’t we just all be united in our disdain for Rebecca Black?

Just a neat chart from the Economist that includes some of the important factors in the ME region.

http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/media/2011InfoG/Interactive/ShoeThrowers0314/main.swf

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