Screw U Mubarak

From The DailyDish:

(Photo: Doctors, medical workers and students march through Cairo to join anti-government protests in Tahrir Square on February 10, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Thousands of workers from various unions across Egypt, including many medical workers, have gone on strike today with protestors calling for a nationwide general strike. The wave of strikes is increasing pressure on the government following more than two weeks of protests calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. By John Moore/Getty Images.)

Huge Battle Router

This Wired article by Spencer Ackerman, “U.S. Has Secret Tools for Internet on Dictators,” suggests that the internet can be the future battlefield for dealing with Mubarak-like dictators and civic oppression. When a country’s internet connection is suspended, Americans can sail their fancy WiFi boat near the dead zone and revive her.

Consider the Commando Solo, the Air Force’s airborne broadcasting center. A revamped cargo plane, the Commando Solo beams out psychological operations in AM and FM for radio, and UHF and VHF for TV. Arquilla doesn’t want to go into detail how the classified plane could get a denied internet up and running again, but if it flies over a bandwidth-denied area, suddenly your Wi-Fi bars will go back up to full strength.

“We have both satellite- and nonsatellite-based assets that can come in and provide access points to get people back online,” Arquilla says. “Some of it is done from ships. You could have a cyber version of pirate radio.”

If the fanciest of routers does not work, there are other possibilities to disrupt, or rather fix, a places communication infrastructure.

Alternatively, operatives could smuggle small satellite dishes into a country. Small dishes were crucial togetting the internet back running in Haiti after last year’s earthquake. It’s how cameramen in war zones rapidly transmit high quality video from the middle of nowhere.

Of course it sounds peaceful, non-violent and even reasonable; but if we are talking about a situation much like the recent protests in Egypt, where the presence of international journalists bothered Mubarak-thugs and was enough for politicians to blame the protests on international meddlers, then any interference will be considered hostile and could have violent consequences.

The trouble is, if a government follows Egypt’s lead and turns off the internet, it’s not going to be keen to see a meddling foreign power turn it back on.

That act might not be as provocative as sending in ground troops or dropping bombs. But it’s still an act of what you might call forced online entry — by definition, a hostile one.

Beware of the Mombies!

Via The Cagle Post, a wonderful cartoon that puts the life of the fetus before the life of the mother, which opens a can of worms, specifically a can of feminist worms, and I don’t mean that derogatorily, it just happens to be where the expression took me, but to be clear, it deals with legislation that confronts women’s rights.

by Jen Sorensen at Slowpoke

Hard Times, Not End Times

My colleague Ari Stillman composed this essay comparing the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear to a “secular religious event.” Stillman draws an interesting parallel wherein Stephen Colbert represents the typical “Fox News Christian-American” and the Jewish Jon Stewart serves as the secularized voice of reason. Stewart became the voice for the minorities of the US, especially Muslims, gays, illegal immigrants – anyone who shares, like the Jews, a history of very public and systematic persecution. As Colbert bowed to Stewart’s arguments, Stillman writes that America underwent a symbolic “conversion experience” – a conversion from unjustifiable racial/sexual/political paranoia to “common sense.”

What does it mean that Comedy Central houses “America’s most trusted news anchor”? Or that an astounding number of Americans lack “common sense?” Is this conversion even possible outside of the parameters of the Rally?

Be kind, America. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.

On Torture and Accountability

Fernando Botero

President Bush is back from his Emily Dickinson like seclusion with a book of reflections on his presidency, and a consequential media book tour. Of the many revelations in the book – i.e. being called a racist by Kanye West was the lowest point of his presidency – the least surprising is that he personally signed off on the enhanced interrogation techniques that other people call torture.

The Nation’s Jonathan Schell reports on the documents that suggest that The United States was engaging in torture techniques in the war in Iraq. President Bush still defends waterboarding as an interrogation technique, not torture, but the documents made available by WikiLeaks show a broader and more vicious approach at the so called interrogations. This is a report by an American soldier:

THE DETAINEE WAS BLINDFOLDED AND IS UNABLE TO IDENTIFY THE OFFENDERS. THE DETAINEE CLAIMED HE WAS BEATEN ABOUT THE FEET AND LEGS WITH A BLUNT OBJECT, AND PUNCHED IN THE FACE AND___. HE CLAIMED THAT ELECTRICITY WAS USED ON HIS FEET AND GENITALS, AND HE WAS ALSO [SODOMIZED] WITH A WATER BOTTLE. –___PERSONNEL CLAIMED IT WAS CAUSED BY THE DETAINEE FALLING FROM HIS MOTORCYCLE WHILE HE WAS BEING CHASED BY THE___. THE DETAINEE DISPLAYED GREAT DIFFICULTY WALKING WITH BRUISING AND SWELLING ON THE SOLES OF BOTH FEET. THE DETAINEE HAD LOCALIZED CUTS AND BRUISING ON BOTH LEGS (PRIMARILY THE LEFT), THE LEFT ARM, AND THE LEFT CHIN. THERE WERE NO INJURIES VISIBLE ON THE DETAINEE E___HANDS, UPPER ARMS, TORSO, UPPER LEGS, OR BUTTOCKS. HIS CLOTHING WAS NOT RIPPED OR DAMAGED, BUT DID DISPLAY BLOOD STAINS.

Schell reports that nothing was done with these reports, and that executed victims were found with electric-drill holes in their bodies. Bush and Cheney admit to approving waterboarding, which in their minds is not torture. Let’s see what exactly waterboarding is:

Read the rest of this entry »

Endorse Responsibly

Republican House Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama was disappointed with the congressional election results, The National Journal reports.

“The Senate would be Republican today except for states [in which Palin endorsed candidates] like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware,” Bachus said at the November 4 meeting in Columbiana, Ala. “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.”

The Associated Press (via WaPo) reported that a spokesman for Bachus said the comments where taken out of context but did not retract them. The accusation is difficult to legitimize because Palin endorsed 64 candidates running for Senate and House seats, Governorships, Attorney General (Iowa and Florida) and Secretary of State (Alabama). Of the endorsed candidates, 32 won their races, 17 lost them and 5 are undecided.

The Republican victory could have been sweeter.

“If you think Republicans are in charge in Washington, you can wipe that thought from your mind,” Bachus said. “Democrats are in control of the presidency and the Senate. It would take 67 votes to override any veto.”

Of the candidates that received Palin endorsements, the ones that received the most press attention also lost their races.

“Congressman Bachus, like other political observers, said that seats in states like Delaware and Nevada could have been won by stronger candidates, and that’s a lesson going forward,” Johnson said. Bachus’s spokesman added that the boss, in his speech, was “extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday.”

Was there a difference between endorsements? Were all candidates endorsed equally?

No, NOM!

A heartbreaking outcome of the 2010 elections: three of Iowa’s Supreme Court Justices were voted out of office (what? I didn’t even know that was possible) thanks largely in part to the vigorous fiscal efforts of anti-gay, pro-bigot group NOM: (via gawker)

The groups spent more than $700,000 to convince voters to kick the judges out, funding a statewide “Judge Bus” tour, radio ads, TV ads, text messages and polling. Even Citizens United chipped in $18,000 at almost the last minute.

Andrew Sullivan adds,

This has never happened before in Iowa’s history of allowing such votes since 1962. NOM is also trying to remove marriage rights from gay couples in New Hampshire – and they may have secured a veto-proof majority to rip gay couples legally apart.

Okay. I get where the whole “I don’t think gays should get married” fucked-up string of logic comes from, but to hate gays so much as to punish their allies (via unemployment!) is just straight-up proof that those who support NOM and its causes act out of a supreme hatred for LGBT folk, not a supreme concern. The fact that the private funding of individual citizens caused the removal of these three judges is absurd.

Why do we let those who demonstrate no logical aptitude determine the fate of those who do? Why?