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Iraq’s protests and the reform farce

In recent years Iraqis have become accustomed to periodic outbreaks of mass protest against their sclerotic political system. There is little to endear Iraqis to the ruling oligarchy of parties given their unmatched pilfering of the state and continued failure.

The stabilisation of the security situation and the supposed merits of a constitutional electoral system that breaks with decades of authoritarian rule have failed to allay public anger.

While the improved security and the normalcy that has marked daily life in parts of Iraq have certainly been welcomed, it is a cruel absurdity to expect Iraqis to forever measure their quality of life and their political discontent against the harrowing extremes of civil war or Ba’thist authoritarianism. Trumpeting normalcy means having to live up to its promise.

In fact, the recent stabilisation of the security situation has brought Iraq’s systemic failures to the fore. Where once Iraqis felt caught between existential threats (such as terrorism, crime, ISIS, etc) and civil war, today they feel trapped in a political and economic system that serves the interests of the ruling party oligarchy and denies them representation, economic opportunity and functioning services.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/iraq-protests-reform-farce-191004095142453.html

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Posted by on October 17, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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What If The World Treated The U.S. Like a Rogue State

THE PLANETʼS DENSEST EMBODIMENT of international cooperation lies in the heart of Geneva, in the few square miles around the lake. From the lakeshore, a brief walk through a park will bring a visitor to the Palace of Nations, built in the 1930s as the seat of the League of Nations, and now the United Nations’ office in the city. To the east, the World Trade Organization; to the north-west, the World Health Organization; an amble away, the headquarters of the Red Cross, the International Labour Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, among dozens of others. Also nearby is the InterContinental Hotel, where in November 2013, Iran agreed to dilute its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—the first edition of the pact that President Donald Trump abandoned last year.

It’s entirely fitting that just down the road from the InterContinental is the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, which occupies a complex named Maison de la Paix, its six buildings arranged like strewn flower petals. The InterContinental is of particular interest to Thomas Biersteker, a political scientist at the Institute, who has made a career studying sanctions. Biersteker, an American who taught at Brown University until 2007, is prone to discussing the antics of nation-states in a tone of wry curiosity, as if relaying the activities of ant colonies in his backyard. He lives for part of the year in a house in the Swiss Alps, where he hosts so many discussions on his preferred topic that his colleagues call it the “Sanctions Chalet.” Typically, Biersteker’s case studies deal with bad actors: states gone rogue, dangerous leaders thumbing their noses at the world. Increasingly, though, these descriptions seem to fit not just autocracies flush with oil or tinpot dictatorships but also the United States of America.

https://www.huffpost.com/highline/article/sanctions/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9kdWNrZHVja2dvLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAHVp6j9Fox4M2Fptyh27d2Ed2WVMjlvD-EOugVEe3ceSA7yM_VIBoxLGqxWccZ_tTN7C_TWgeDYhgAK9NJr9k6P2W0hLAVhLkclsdI5csgWHq5hViPd5jGTE2Delmp4TjSLD2nLE7TK9uJS7ugyib2Zvgy0SjqcVm9lAsvhFTC-G

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized

 

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Living in Two Worlds: Capitalism Pretends All Is Well While the World Is Burning

Those of us who are lucky enough to be living somewhere in the world where there is enough food to eat, water to drink, and security for us and our loved ones, are living in a bubble.

If we are paying close attention to escalating changes to the climate and the biosphere of Planet Earth, we know that it is only a matter of time until we or our descendants, too, will have our lives turned upside down, or even ended, by catastrophic climate disruption impacts.

Increasing numbers of us are living with the knowledge that it is already far too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe, yet the dominant culture of global capitalism continues to pretend there is still time — or the crisis isn’t actually that bad, or that geoengineering or some other mythically miraculous human technology will save us.

https://truthout.org/articles/living-in-two-worlds-capitalism-pretends-all-is-well-while-the-world-is-burning/

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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The U.S. Is Now Betraying the Kurds for the Eighth Time

The White House announced Sunday night that the United States is giving Turkey a green light to invade northern Syria, with the U.S. troops there now apparently pulling back to another area of the country. This is the scenario that Syrian Kurds have long feared. It will almost inevitably lead to a Turkish attack on Kurdish militias in Syria — fighters who loyally helped the U.S. destroy the Islamic State, but whom Turkey bogusly claims to be terrorists.

On Monday morning, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman asked why Donald Trump made this decision:

What Krugman left out, however, is the most likely explanation: (d) Trump is president of the United States. Nothing in this world is certain except death, taxes, and America betraying the Kurds.

The U.S. has now betrayed the Kurds a minimum of eight times over the past 100 years. The reasons for this are straightforward.

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/kurds-syria-turkey-trump-betrayal/

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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L’abbandono dei curdi sarebbe stato un errore strategico

Era una decisione personale di Donald Trump, presa senza alcuna discussione e contro l’opinione della sua stessa amministrazione e il suo stesso partito. Se fosse stata messa in atto avrebbe avuto delle conseguenze importanti. La scelta del presidente degli Stati Uniti riguarda anche l’Europa, perché Francia e Regno Unito mantengono forze speciali nel nordest della Siria e diverse migliaia di jihadisti stranieri sono prigionieri delle forze curde in Siria, compresi molti europei.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/pierre-haski/2019/10/08/stati-uniti-curdi-siria

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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‘You broke our glacier’: the Mont Blanc resort on the climate frontline

Like millions of their compatriots around the globe, the children of Courmayeur marched last Friday to protest against the climate crisis. The group of 160 or so pupils, some as young as six, turned out with banners and slogans, repeatedly shouting: “Ban plastic, save our planet.” But their most prominent placard message showed that for the youngsters of this small Italian resort town at the foot of Mont Blanc, the threat of climate change is particularly close to home. “You broke our glacier”, it read.

The activists were referring to Planpincieux, a glacier on the nearby Grandes Jorasses peak that is changing so rapidly that experts warned last week that a huge portion of ice was in danger of breaking away.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/28/courmayeur-you-broke-our-glacier-mont-blanc-resort-climate-frontline

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in European Union, Uncategorized

 

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Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) Must Shelve His Vicious War in Yemen

This past weekend, Yemeni Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier Yahya al-Sari clinically described how Ansarallah, also known as the Houthi rebel movement, aided by what Yemenis describe as “popular committees,” captured three Saudi brigades of 2,400 ragged soldiers, plus Yemeni and Sudanese mercenaries as well as several hundred battle vehicles. At least 500 Saudi soldiers were killed, Ansarallah said. (A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition denied the claim.)

This was part of the significantly named Operation Nasrallah in Najran province, Saudi Arabia. The Houthis, who did learn a lot, tactically and strategically, from Hezbollah, duly praised mujahideen and “popular committees” involved in Operation Nasrallah.

Col. Pat Lang, in his blog, offers a particularly useful observation on the captured Saudi vehicles. Some belonged to the Saudi National Guard (SANG):

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Crown-Prince-Mohammad-bin-by-Pepe-Escobar-Crown-Prince-Mohammed-Bin-Salman_Houthis_Saudi-Arabia_Yemen-Destruction-191004-985.html

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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Spot the psychopath

Psychopath. The word conjures up the image of a cold-blooded killer, or perhaps a fiendishly clever but heartless egoist. There’s Ted Bundy, who in the 1970s abducted women, killed them, and had sex with their decomposing bodies. Or Hannibal Lecter from the film The Silence of the Lambs (1991), who cunningly escaped his various confinements and ended up eating the people he despised. In the popular imagination, psychopaths are the incarnation of evil. However, for an increasing number of researchers, such people are ill, not evil – victims of their own deranged minds. So just what are psychopaths, and what is wrong with them?

According to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – first devised in the 1970s by the Canadian criminal psychologist Robert Hare and since revised and widely used for diagnosis – psychopaths are selfish, glib and irresponsible. They have poor impulse control, are antisocial from a young age, and lack the ability to feel empathy, guilt and remorse. Psychopaths steal, lie and cheat, and have no respect for other people, social norms or the law. In some cases, they torture defenceless animals, assault other children or attempt to kill their siblings or parents. If caught, they fail to take responsibility for their actions, but tend to blame others, their upbringing or ‘the system’. According to some recent calculations, more than 90 per cent of male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, on parole or otherwise involved with the criminal justice system. Considering that psychopaths are thought to make up only around 1 per cent of the general population, that number is staggering. Because of this close link to criminality, psychopathy used to be known as ‘moral insanity’.

https://aeon.co/essays/you-have-more-in-common-with-a-psychopath-than-you-realise

 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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This isn’t extinction, it’s extermination: the people killing nature know what they’re doing

During the carnage of the first world war, the poet Wilfred Owen revisited the biblical story in which God tests Abraham by commanding the sacrifice of Isaac, his son. In Genesis, Abraham dutifully prepares the lad for slaughter before God relents and tells him to offer a ram instead.

Owen’s bitter poem rewrites the ending:

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
The parable illustrates global warming just as well as war – except, with CO2 levels higher than at any other time in human history, it’s a planet rather than a continent now under the knife.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2019/sep/20/this-isnt-extinction-its-extermination-the-people-killing-nature-know-what-theyre-doing

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Artificial intelligence is changing every aspect of war

AS THE NAVY plane swooped low over the jungle, it dropped a bundle of devices into the canopy below. Some were microphones, listening for guerrilla footsteps or truck ignitions. Others were seismic detectors, attuned to minute vibrations in the ground. Strangest of all were the olfactory sensors, sniffing out ammonia in human urine. Tens of thousands of these electronic organs beamed their data to drones and on to computers. In minutes, warplanes would be on their way to carpet-bomb the algorithmically-ordained grid square. Operation Igloo White was the future of war—in 1970.

America’s effort to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail running from Laos into Vietnam was not a success. It cost around $1bn a year (about $7.3bn in today’s dollars)—$100,000 ($730,000 today) for every truck destroyed—and did not stop infiltration. But the allure of semi-automated war never faded. The idea of collecting data from sensors, processing them with algorithms fuelled by ever-more processing power and acting on the output more quickly than the enemy lies at the heart of military thinking across the world’s biggest powers. And today that is being supercharged by new developments in artificial intelligence (AI).

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2019/09/07/artificial-intelligence-is-changing-every-aspect-of-war

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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