Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wikileaks State Dept release on foreign corruption imminent

As of Saturday night, Nov. 27, the newest Wikileaks release of masses of documents, passing through the State Department, relating to corruption in foreign governments (and US negotiating positions) had not appeared – although a link to download BitTorrent software and access other Wikileaks material through P2P (maybe a dangerous option for some home users) is now present. (Your ISP might watch how much of this you do.)

Reuters released a major story Wednesday Nov. 24, with link here.
Julian Assange has also made new documents available to newspapers in Spain and France.

A friend who works in a sensitive area said that bloggers should not give links to leaked data, that they might be party to compromising the security of innocent civilians in other countries (like Afghanistan now). However, “the cat’s out of the bag” and probably raiding a lot of birds’ nests.

Here is a Democracy Now YouTube video of Assange talking about last summer’s leak on Afghanistan, with a violin solo in the background at the start.

Second picture: On 23rd St NW, between GWU and State Dept in Washington DC

Nov. 29Politics Daily has this snarky story, " about the leak, "Leaking of Secret U.S. Cables Sparks Diplomacy Crisis", here.

Wikileaks calls the affair "Cable Gate", so here I go: it's fair game now, and here's the link.

Richard Clark told CNN that without "trust" a government cannot conduct diplomacy, and that the leak has destroyed "trust" in the US.  Is that what happens in an era of blogging?

Friday, November 26, 2010

NY Times: South Korea has severe problems with eldercare because of demographics; also, jobs in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Last Saturday (Nov. 20, 2010), on my “Bill Retires” blog, I covered Phillip Longman and his cover story on Foreign Policy, “Old World: The Graying of the Planet – and How It Will Change Everything” (links at that post). Today, Nov. 26, The New York Times, in its series “The Vanishing Mind: The War on Dementia”, in a long and detailed article by Pam Belluck, greets front page print edition viewers with “In the land of the aging, children counter Alzheimer’s”, link here.

The story specifically concerns the population demographics of South Korea, where birthrates are lower than in the US and where, the story says, 9% of people over 65 have significant dementia. The tone of the story becomes alarming. It’s ironic that a story like this appears just as hostility from North Korea is making the more obvious headlines.

South Korea has a long term care insurance system, paid for by 6.6% increase in health premiums. But that doesn’t abrogate the filial demands for hands-on caregiving. Even though nursing homes have tripled, they have long waiting lists, and authorities say we can’t keep building them. South Korea already has 30 million cases of dementia, and South Korea’s demographic winter problems are among the most severe in the world. So the country is training people in caregiving and recognizing symptoms, including simulating the experience.

Then the article says “So the authorities promote the notion that filial piety implies doing everything possible for elders with dementia, a condition now called chimae (pronounced chee-may): disease of knowledge and the brain which makes adults become babies. But South Korea’s low birth rate will make family caregiving tougher.”

Picture: A DC Metro ad for "Jobs that make a difference" (link) involving USAID and right now, jobs for civilian natives in Afghanistan, and (according to job listings on the site) US citizens with professional disciplines to work in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pope's advice on condoms welcome in HIV prevention, but may be overstated

Rachel Donadio has written some analysis in the New York Times questioning the recent news that Pope Benedict had written, in his book “Light of the World” and other places, statements that sometimes health concerns – prevention of HIV transmission and other STDs – may outweigh Vatican objections to contraception and homosexual behavior, and provide moral justification for condom use. The story is “Pope’s comments on condoms sow confusion”, (website url) here

The UN Aids Global Report (link ) praised the Pope’s words.

There is a correlated story on my GLBT blog today (Thanksgiving Day).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea attacks island in the South; the start of something?

NBC Today (on “Today in 2 Minutes”) reports a skirmish where North Korea attacked a small island (Yeonpyeong) belonging to South Korea. At least one South Korean soldier was killed. American forces were not involved. The South Koreans also maneuver from Baengnyeong Island.

I still remember when war broke out in Korea in 1950, when I was barely old enough to understand what war meant. I even remember a discussion on a porch on grandmother’s house in Ohio with my Mother and a cousin.  It was my first exposure to the idea that men could get drafted to go off and fight to protect others.

It’s not clear if this "incident" will go anywhere, but during the Clinton years there was more concern about future conflict with North Korea than there was with Al Qaeda.

MSN’s Internet headline was “North Korea attacks” as if it were “Mars Attacks”.

Picture: Street in Kipton, Ohio; I spent summers in the house at the end of the street from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. The town seems like a history museum now.

Monday, November 22, 2010

North Korea shows of modern nuclear processing, may have many more warheads

ABC News tonight with Diane Sawyer reported on a “show and tell” by North Korea to UN scientists, of a modern nuclear processing facility installed apparently in 2009, with possibly up to 10 warheads possible. Previously, George Tenet of the CIA had said it was possible to lob a warhead toward Alaska, or the Canadian or US Pacific northwest.

This sounds like a major escalation in North Korea’s “capability.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

FP Magazine documents Adam Chesser, Internet propaganda and the "South Park" controversy

Here’s another important long story in Foreign Policy, Nov. 2010, “Watching the Watchers: Al Qaeda’s new strategy is all about using our own words and actions against us; and it’s working”, p. 60, by Jarret Brachman, link here.

All this is tied to the efforts of (and then indictment of) Zachary Adam Chesser (“Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee”), and the whole “fake South Park preacher fatwa”, apparently related to some Comedy Central episodes that had made fun of Muhhamad and the nearness of the incident site to Viacom.

The video below ties a number of these threads together, including the Times Square incident on May 1.

But the FP article details (at some length) how the likes of Chesser are trying to get others to use the Web as an ideological battlefield to win “converts” (not “arguments”).

Much of this seems to relate back to indignation. Back in the early 1970s, the radical Left spread a lot of talk by leaflets about how to spread hate against the “capitalist pigs” etc. Personally, during the younger days of my adult life, I have seen all of this sort of thing before.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Palestinian man held as "blasphemous" anonymous blogger on West Bank

The New York Times is reporting on p A5 Tuesday Nov. 16 about Palestinian man Waleed Hasayin, from the West Bank town of Qalqilya, for supposedly maintaining a blog or website said to be stirring up everyone with “secular” values that question Islamic religious values (to say the least) and to some people bringing up the notion of aiding the “enemy” (“Israel”). Actually, the blogger called himself pseudonymously Waleed al-Husseini, and Hasayin has been held by Palestinian authorities who maintain he is that blogger.   Anonymity, however valued as a right, did not work. There is fear that his case could turn into one like the Jyllands-Posten Cartoon controversy or even Salman Rushdie. The link  (story is "A blogger's irreverence infuriates West Bank Muslims", by Isabel Kershner) is here.

This blogger post “Why I Left Islam” seems to be his. The writer says that he does not consider Christianity or Judaism “better” than Islam, but he calls Islam an “authoritarian religion”.  The blog has the headband "Proud Atheist: Rational critics of religion" Note the word "rational"; pure logic can lead us into unending mazes.

It's interesting to ponder why many religious or somewhat tribal communities cannot tolerate dissent. On the other hand, it's true that Palestinians have indeed had land and homes expropriated from them by force by Israel (for "settlements" that supposedly support "security"), and it's understandable how this would be a source of shame, the most unacceptable of all emotions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arlington VA church has important mission connections to Mexico, Belize

Today, after the Sunday service, the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA presented some of its mission plans for 2011, with emphasis on Belize, and on some areas of northern Mexico.

In Belize, there was talk of work on an orphanage and of the infrastructure damage from hurricanes this fall, particularly to communications and the Internet.

In Mexico, there is an effort called the “Frontera de Cristo” in about six cities near the border. The most stable of these cities is Aqua Prieta (“Black Water”), but generally safety of visitors has not been as big a problem as reported in the media. The ministries are varied and include community centers and medical clinics. There is also a coffee business (“Faith journey coffee”) that brings in revenue through connections through a town on the Guatemala border without economic middlemen.

On May 22, 2008 on the drama blog, I covered another mission from a Baptist church in Nicaragua called Nacascolo.

Trinity also has a mural now diagramming the political situation on the West Bank between Palestine and Israel.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The happiest countries on earth emphasize social solidarity within families, not personal choice

ABC “Good Morning America” had a segment Monday morning on the “happiest places in the world” and these included Denmark, Singapore, and an area of Mexico. What was common to all of these was family connections, and that people spend an average of seven hours a day engaged socially with other people in real life, much of it blood family and parents. Similar findings have been reported about “Blue Zone” areas before.

Singapore was interesting particularly because of the strictness of its public conduct laws and conservative culture.

This doesn’t sound very good for introverts, as I wrote on my “BillBoushka” blog Sunday. It also doesn’t sound very good for “psychological creativity”, the ability to be selective about people in your life. You don’t get to choose or select relatives.

There is something about social structures: they seem so critical for well-being and survival of the group, but then the "strongest" members of the group will bully less assertive members into subservience to the group's goals. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

EU will introduce a "right to be forgotten online"

The “Red Tape Chronicles” on MSNBC reports today that the European Commission for the European Union will push for a legal “right to be forgotten” online, an idea proposed on some recent books such as Mayer-Schonberger’s “Delete” (Book review blog, May 13, 2010). Apparently most of the concern has to do with keeping logon information and tracking visitors for advertising. It’s unclear whether postings about other people in blogs or on social networking sites would have to be deleted after some period of time.

In the United States, John Boucher was defeated in the November 2010 midterm, so his controversial bill may be less likely to go forward, some say. In the US, privacy advocates want an option “do not track” that would work like “do not call”.

The link is here.

The European Union Commission statement is here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Major source on laser printer plot had been at Gitmo

NBC Nightly News is reporting that a source who uncovered the laser printer cartridge plot had been a prisoner at Gitmo for four years. After release, the Saudi was sent to a Saudi “rehabilitation center” for change of beliefs. The idea that a government would have to rehabilitate thought is shocking, but we do that all the time in some other scenarios.

NBC news is also talking about an auditape received from Qasim al Raymi of “AQAP” (Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula”) link here, story by Mike Ishikoff.

Also, check this Washington Post story by Tara Bahrampour, "Out of Suburbia: Internet helped Muslim convert from Northern Virginia embrace extremism at warp speed", about Zachary Adam Chesser, link here.