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Sisi is a dead man walking

“You want to be a first-class nation? Will you bear it if I make you walk on your own feet? When I wake you up at five in the morning every day? Will you bear cutting back on food, cutting back on air-conditioners? …People think I’m a soft man, Sisi is torture and suffering.”

So said the field marshal in a leaked recording of a conversation he had with a journalist shortly before he became president. Little did he know then how prescient his words would be. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rule has indeed become torture and suffering for Egypt.

He has lurched from one promise to another, each one a glittering bauble dangled over a credulous and fearful nation. The first was the untold billions that Egypt would continue to get from the Gulf states who bankrolled his military coup. He boasted to his aides that their money was so plentiful it was “like rice”, a judgment that now looks dated after the collapse in the price of oil and the Yemen war. He burnt his way through up to $50bn of their cash, loans and oil guarantees.

Source: Sisi is a dead man walking

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2016 in Africa

 

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Playing Algorithm’n Blues

We all live in the Age of the Algorithm.

So here’s a story that not only encapsulates the age, but dwells on how the algorithm obsession can go horribly wrong.

It all started when Facebook censored the iconic photo of napalm girl Kim Phuch, which became a symbol of the Vietnam War recognized all over the world. The photo was featured in a Facebook post by Norwegian writer Tom Egeland, who wanted to start a debate on seven photographs that changed the history of war.

Not only his post was erased; Egeland was also suspended from Facebook.

Aftenposten, the number one Norwegian daily, owned by Scandinavian media group Schibsted, duly relayed the news, alongside the photo.

Source: Article: Playing Algorithm’n Blues

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Reportages

 

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Peace Pipes, Not Oil Pipes

Cowboys and Indians are at it again.

Americans who don’t live in the West may think that the historic clash of Native Americans and pioneering settlers is long past because the Indians were, after all, defeated and now drive cars, watch television, and shop at Walmart.  Not so.  That classic American narrative is back big time, only the Indians are now the good guys and the cowboys — well, their rightwing representatives, anyway — are on the warpath, trying to grab 640 million acres of public lands that they can plunder as if it were yesteryear.  Meanwhile, in the Dakotas, America’s Manifest Destiny, that historic push across the Great Plains to the Pacific (murdering and pillaging along the way), seems to be making a return trip to Sioux country in a form that could have planetary consequences.

Energy Transfer Partners is now building the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion oil slick of a project.  It’s slated to go from the Bakken gas and oil fracking fields in northern North Dakota across 1,100 miles of the rest of the Dakotas and Iowa to a pipeline hub in Illinois. From there, the oil will head for refineries on the Gulf Coast and ultimately, as the emissions from fossil fuels, into the atmosphere to help create future summers so hot no one will forget them.  Keep in mind that, according to global warming’s terrible new math, there’s enough carbon in those Bakken fields to roast the planet — if, that is, the Sioux and tribes allied with them don’t stop the pipeline.

This time, in other words, if the cavalry does ride to the rescue, the heroes on horseback will be speaking Lakota.

Source: Tomgram: Chip Ward, Peace Pipes, Not Oil Pipes | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in North America

 

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Radicalised nation: Fear and hypocrisy in New York

Following the recent explosions in New York City and New Jersey – one of which injured 29 people and the other of which injured none – President Barack Obama offered a typical presidential message to the American people.The CNN website quotes his analysis that “terrorists and violent extremists… want to inspire fear in all of us, and disrupt the way we live”. The upshot, according to Obama: “We all have a role to play as citizens in making sure that we don’t succumb to that fear.”Easier said than done, perhaps – particularly when the New York City Police Department (NYPD) had just decided to bombard mobile phone users with a mass alert from the Office of Emergency Management. The subject: the explosion suspect.

Source: Radicalised nation: Fear and hypocrisy in New York | Middle East Eye

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in North America

 

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Brazil Congress’ Sneak Grab at Self-Amnesty Shows the Deep Corruption of Its New Ruling Faction

In a move that shocked even the most longtime, jaded observers of corrupt Brasília plotting, the leaders of the House of Deputies late last night attempted to sneak into their voting schedule a sleazy bill that would grant themselves amnesty from having violated campaign finance laws. This happened with Brazil’s installed president, Michel Temer, out of the country speaking this morning at the U.N. (where he remarkably praised impeachment as a “model” against corruption as he was surrounded by his own corruption-implicated ministers), while the new president of the House, Rodrigo Maia (above with Temer), assumed the position of “interim president” of the republic in Temer’s absence. Although the plot was thwarted by vehement objections principally led by two relatively small parties (PSOL and Rede) and supported by members from a few others, the attempt itself speaks volumes about the new faction that has seized power in Brazil after impeaching the country’s elected president.

Source: Brazil Congress’ Sneak Grab at Self-Amnesty Shows the Deep Corruption of Its New Ruling Faction

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in South America

 

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Government has no strategy, no plan and only ‘phantom’ allies in Syria, scathing Commons report reveals

The Government is failing to implement its policy of making war on Isis in Syria which it was supposed to have launched nine months ago after rancorous debate.

A report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published on Wednesday says that there have been only 65 UK air raids in Syria during this period, compared to 550 in Iraq. Some 31 of these were in the first two months of the air campaign, since when the number has fallen to between three and seven air strikes a month

Source: Government has no strategy, no plan and only ‘phantom’ allies in Syria, scathing Commons report reveals

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Middle East

 

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U.N. Chief Blasts World Leaders in Farewell Address

UN. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a full-throated, and thinly veiled, broadside against a host of world leaders from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to South Sudan’s Salva Kiir Mayardit during his tenth and final speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

“In too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power,” he said. “My message to all is clear: serve your people. Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics.”

Source: U.N. Chief Blasts World Leaders in Farewell Address

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Reportages

 

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Cognitive bias cheat sheet

I’ve spent many years referencing Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases whenever I have a hunch that a certain type of thinking is an official bias but I can’t recall the name or details. It’s been an invaluable reference for helping me identify the hidden flaws in my own thinking. Nothing else I’ve come across seems to be both as comprehensive and as succinct.However, honestly, the Wikipedia page is a bit of a tangled mess. Despite trying to absorb the information of this page many times over the years, very little of it seems to stick. I often scan it and feel like I’m not able to find the bias I’m looking for, and then quickly forget what I’ve learned. I think this has to do with how the page has organically evolved over the years. Today, it groups 175 biases into vague categories (decision-making biases, social biases, memory errors, etc) that don’t really feel mutually exclusive to me, and then lists them alphabetically within categories. There are duplicates a-plenty, and many similar biases with different names, scattered willy-nilly.

Source: Cognitive bias cheat sheet

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Reportages

 

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WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer)

Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden — The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept –– have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That’s the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which — by virtue of accepting the source’s materials and then publishing them — implicitly declares the source’s information to be in the public interest.But not the Washington Post. In the face of a growing ACLU and Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Snowden, timed to this weekend’s release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden,” the Post editorial page today not only argued in opposition to a pardon, but explicitly demanded that Snowden — the paper’s own source — stand trial on espionage charges or, as a “second-best solution,” accept “a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.”

Source: WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer)

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in North America, Reportages

 

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Occupy Wall Street, five years on: fire in the dustbin of history

There’s a feeling common among everyone I know from the weird, wild, fast-moving political days of 2011. It’s a feeling of having somehow gone down the wrong trouser-leg of time.

Five years ago today, the Occupy movement began in Lower Manhattan. Thousands of activists took over New York City’s Zuccotti Park, a square of semi-public land suspended between Wall Street and Ground Zero, and declared their intent to stay. Their goals were broad enough to appear incoherent: nothing more or less than total change to the political narrative, with jobs, healthcare, education and debt relief as transitional demands. The sheer gall of it started a global conversation about income inequality that continues to this day.

 

http://www.newstatesman.com/world/2016/09/occupy-wall-street-five-years-fire-dustbin-history

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Reportages, Revolution

 

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