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Archive for December 20th, 2012

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Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Volokh Conspiracy -Assault Weapons Bans, in the Words of Some of Their Supporters 

….ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquillity of the kind enjoyed in sister democracies like Canada and Britain. Given the frontier history and individualist ideology of the United States, however, this will not come easily. It certainly cannot be done radically. It will probably take one, maybe two generations. It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today.

Largely why gun control people want desperately to short-circuit any serious national debate of the less difficult to solve public safety problem of the small number of dangerously mentally ill people.  Emphasis on practical measures to reduce mass shootings detracts from long range aspirations to impose, not reasonable controls to keep firearms out of improper hands, but eventually de facto prohibition on private gun ownership.

Steve Metz – Strategic Horizons: The Information Battlefield of Live-Cast War

….Recent events give clear signs of this trend. In 2010, a gun camera video clip from an American Apache helicopter in Iraq, taken in 2007, was released on the Internet by the group WikiLeaks. Two journalists from the news agency Reuters had died in the attack. The U.S. military’s investigation found that the helicopter crews had followed correct procedures and had “neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces.” Despite this, the killings added fuel to rumors that U.S. forces in Iraq targeted journalists, further eroding the increasingly fragile public support for the war. 

While this particular tragedy involved the release of a stolen official video, the insurgents in Iraq also live-casted their operations for propaganda and training purposes. Nearly every insurgent attack was posted on the Internet within days, often within hours and sometimes even within minutes. Then the “Arab Spring” revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya saw the live-casting of violence reach new heights. Many of the battles and actions by government forces were broadcast in real time, and others were quickly uploaded to the Internet. War had become a transfixing public spectacle.

Although the live-casting of armed action has become the new norm, policymakers and military leaders have not yet adjusted. The normal American reaction when the ugliness of war becomes public is an investigation and an eventual public release of the findings. Unfortunately, the belief that truth will win out is old-fashioned, even quaint in an era of information profusion. Today explanations of events form and explode without waiting for a careful collection of the facts or even the truth to emerge. Ideas move with such rapidity and in such complex ways that it is impossible to identify or gauge the authority of their source. Information may have passed through hundreds, thousands and even millions of hands via email, online discussions, blogs, web pages, tweets and social media sites. No one knows its origin. The Internet and new media are rife with myths that sometimes subside and then reappear at unpredictable times. No idea, no matter how delusional, suffers a final death in the virtual world.

SWJ – German Counterinsurgency Operations in East Africa: The Hehe War, 1890-1898 

….The new colonial power now turned its focus to Tanzania’s interior. While the coastal regions were shaped primarily by urban culture, the central and southern parts of German East Africa, as well as the regions around the Great Lakes featured larger hierarchy-based territories. In the southern highlands, the most important ethnic groups were the Ngoni, Sangu and Hehe (Wahehe), the latter being the strongest power since the 1860s.[11] The Ngoni had migrated to Tanzania from South Africa in the 1820s after coming under pressure from the expanding Zulu[12]. By adopting the Zulu military system, the Ngoni tried to become the dominant group in the region. Their efforts were thwarted, first by the Sangu, and finally by the Hehe, who – by improving the Zulu system – became a hegemonial power in southern Tanzania. Speaking of hegemony, one has to consider that members of subjected ethnical groups were integrated into Hehe society, and that “the Hehe” themselves have to be seen as a construction of political elites; the tribal name also was a construct, applied to the Hehe by their enemies.[13] After the death of Chief Munyigumba in 1880, his son Mkwawa[14] took over as ruler of the Hehe. A survey of the conflict between the Hehe and Germany has to reconsider one important fact: one cannot apply the often-mentioned theory that African ethnic groups were just “quiet victims” of colonial powers. Of course, the Hehe can be seen as victims of European imperialism – but their war with German forces was also a clash of two territorial entities focused on expansion. East Africa had been no peaceful paradise prior to the beginning of European activities; the Hehe had been known for their aggressiveness for decades, and it was no coincidence that other tribes, already in the pre-colonial era, had begun calling Chief Mkwawa muhinja, “the butcher” 

Brown Pundits -Female polio workers targeted in Pakistan 

….But let us not compare the CIA’s perfidy with what the terrorists have done before or since.  THAT too would be to miss the point. The terrorists will do what even the CIA has difficulty imagining (and much more difficulty ever publicly admitting or supporting): kill innocent health workers to make their point. And sentence thousands of kids to paralysis or worse. And feel no regret or remorse.

btw, anti-polio vaccine propaganda did NOT start with the Bin Ladin thing. It had been reported from the frontier region (and polio teams had been attacked in that region) for many years prior to the Bin Laden raid

Dart Throwing Chimp -On the Limits of Our Causal Imagination 

The New Republic -We’re Still Paying the Price for the Borking of Robert Bork

Popular Archaeology-Archaeologists Uncover Europe’s First Civilization 

The Chronicle -This Is Not a Profile of Nassim Taleb 

That’s it.

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