Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Taking a look in the mirror...

Bravo, Der Spiegel! Clearly the only mature response to the mystery of Snowden's current location is to join in with some vaguely Russo-phobic speculation about what dirty reasons Putin's secret services might have for harbouring/kidnapping/interrogating him. A little evidence would be nice.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

American hypocrisy in action

The Chinese raise a good point here.

How can the USA complain about Russia's or Hong Kong's disinclination to extradite Snowden (bearing in mind that no extradition treaty exists between Russia and America) when it has just been revealed that they have been running a secret program designed exclusively to spy on the internet activity of foreign nationals?

As with Bradley Manning there has been no suggestion that whistle blowing was inspired by any foreign intervention. Those involved simply did not share the government's steadfast belief that it is acceptable for the state to breach privacy and keep vast amounts of data confidential in order to better protect the American people from those nebulously defined terrorists.

Maybe America should take a break from its rabid pursuit of those who challenge the interests of its surveillance state and instead consider what effect such revelations are having on its already tarnished global image.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Chomsky speaks out

Interesting article by Chomsky on the responsibility of the most affluent and powerful countries of the world for the environmental and nuclear threats to civilization as we know it.

Some bits are more on the mark than others. Chomsky is openly and publicly anti-American and sometime underestimates the extent to which the anti-Americanism of other can be mistaken for a genuine concern for the environment. Projects like Ecuador's Yasuni are fantastic and should be supported strenuously but in many cases there is a big difference between making a speech about the environment in order to embarrass powerful neighbours and actually acting to bring in green policies.

However, when he moves on to nuclear warfare he is absolutely on the button. The West cannot adopt the moral high ground on Iran or North Korea's minuscule weapons programs while turning a blind eye to Israel's plausibly deniable stockpile and tendency to destroy any installation that they have suspicions about. If nuclear weapons are to be banned effectively, and in the interests of humanity they should be, then it must be done without favour or prejudice. Any other method merely encourages back sliding and shows of nervous aggression by those who feel unfairly treated by the USA and its allies.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Dark Ages revisited

If you've got access to BBC iPlayer you really should give this a watch. It is everything that History television should be; engaging and thought provoking with a very charismatic presenter who definitely tries to do things differently.

It sometimes seems a bit non-specific and I can't really speak for its historical accuracy (I'm more of a modern historian) but at least Waldemar Januszczak does not look like he is being held hostage, as some academics tend to when they get in front of the cameras.