The world continues to simmer in interesting ways.
- Iran lawmakers call for execution of opposition leaders — good thing they didn’t do that in Egypt. Mubarak was a bad guy by Western standards, but he was probably not the worst of the characters in the region.
- Obama calls for release of the U.S. diplomat in Pakistan who shot what he described as assailants. He is in Pakistani custody. The Taliban demanded that the diplomat be handed over to them. Machiavelli once wrote, “since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.” In Pakistan the US has managed to be neither feared nor loved.
- Voice of America Uses Social Media to Aid Foreign Dissent. “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will outline the next phase of the Obama administration’s so-called Internet freedom agenda. So far, that agenda has been about demanding other countries keep Internet access open. But when that fails, the Broadcasting Broad of Governors, which oversees the government-owned media organizations that send pro-American messages to foreign audiences, has begun using social media to go around online restrictions in repressive countries.” I am personally skeptical of how good the State Department will be at online messaging. They would do better to coordinate with developers to create platforms which can truly be useful in this setting.
- Bahrain protesters take control of main square. “In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address, offering condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.” Ah, the role of information platforms again.
- UK spy suspect eyes career on Russian state television. At last, truth in advertising. “Chapman, now a celebrity in Russia, has posed in lingerie, attended a space launch and had a sing-along with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since her return. Last month she launched her own weekly TV show, ‘Mysteries of the World with Anna Chapman.'”
- Yemenis trying to oust leader protest for 5th day. The US has been worried about the rise of al-Qaeda in Yemen. The Yemeni leader has attempted to defuse the situation by saying he won’t run again for office. I think the current unrest is a two edged sword, which certainly cut in the direction of the US. The problem is whether it can be made to cut going the other way.
- The Pentagon increased funding for long range strike assets and Aviation Week describes progress toward a carrier-based UAV strike force. What will the role of manned aviation end up being?
- CBS correspondent assaulted in Egypt. First. Timothy Treadwell was wrong. The bears will eat you. Second, the only way to respond to this after the fact is to visit unambiguous punishment on the persons who were responsible. Put out a reward for them. For example, the kidnappers of Martin and Graciela Burnham by the Abu Sayyaf has resulted in:
Of course, these all happened under the Bush administration. But this illustrates the difference between affecting things on the ground and making a speech behind a teleprompter. The first approach deals with both symbols and reality, the current administration’s approach deals with symbols and not much else, apparently. You can be sure the Abu Sayyaf got the message.
But although the world is full of worry, fear and concern, there are some at least, who don’t care.
Where do you buy a slow motion kitty? Meanwhile, the birds of the air continue to be interested in fish — and whether their pelican daughters will fly far, far away.
King and Queen of the Pelicans we;
No other Birds so grand we see!
None but we have feet like fins!
With lovely leathery throats and chins! …
As soon as he saw our Daughter Dell,
In violent love that Crane King fell,—
On seeing her waddling form so fair,
With a wreath of shrimps in her short white hair.
And before the end of the next long day,
Our Dell had given her heart away;
For the King of the Cranes had won that heart,
With a Crocodile’s egg and a large fish-tart.
Hat tip to Eric for all the links.