“The Interview” and Hacking of Sony

We’re getting a little tired of reading harebrained opinions by pundits and experts about Sony’s decision to yank its movie “The Interview” after Sony was hacked, apparently by the petulant North Korean regime.

1) It’s Sony’s movie. There is no “right to be shown a movie.”

2) By all accounts this was a B-grade comedy with very little artistry or other redeeming merit. There are very few right-to-free-speech issues here.

3) The movie is Sony property and Sony’s decision to run it or not, not the media’s, and not the so-called cybersecurity experts’.

4) If Sony decided to run the movie anyway, and even one of 18,000+ theater outlets had been victimized by a terrorism bombing attack, the media and the public wouldn’t be screaming “capitulation,” they’d be screaming for Sony’s head on a platter for risking public safety by inviting a terrorist response.

5) The only appropriate response to North Korea is beyond Sony’s expertise, and hopefully Anonymous is working on that now.

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The Crimean Affair

I say, the Crimeans made their own bed; let them lie in it.

At this writing, it appears official that the Russian Duma has accepted the Crimean vote to again become part of Russia, and Vladimir Putin has just signed that annexation into law. The West will wail and wring its collective hands, asserting (correctly) that this was a violation of the Ukrainian constitution.

But, wait a minute. All of Ukraine was part of the USSR until its 1989 break-up. It still consists of three separate regions and ethnic groups: Crimea, predominantly Russian-speaking, Russian Orthodox and identifying as “Russian,” Eastern Ukraine, the same, and Western Ukraine (Kiev), predominantly bilingual (Ukrainian being the primary language) and predominantly Roman Catholic and pro-West.

Crimea also has a sizable Tatar minority of Muslims, said to be around 15%, who were treated brutally by Russia and largely expelled from Crimea under the old USSR. Crimea has changed hands many times since the 1100’s, but identifying as “Russian” is nothing new.

Ukraine, on the other hand, was a shotgun marriage of different regions by the USSR. Since their notoriously corrupt President Viktor Yanukovych fled for his life, Ukraine’s provisional government has been in a shambles. It is ill-equipped at the moment to deal with what, from its perspective, is a grave national crisis.

Continue reading

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McCain on Ukraine

I caught Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) on the Charlie Rose show today. As an ex-military man, McCain seems to understand Comrade Putin’s designs on Crimea quite well enough. On the domestic front, though, he joins the U.S. right-wing hue and cry that the Obama Administration is just sitting on its hands doing nothing, whereas every good ex-military officer know that tough retaliatory action is the only thing Putin understands.

Like so many in our minority party, McCain sees things through a special filter. This filter passes all the colors of the spectrum except Blue. It also picks up artifacts in the spectrum that won’t show in any bandpass filter, because they don’t exist.

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Your Questions on Ukraine – Daily KOS


Why did Obama let this happen, and other questions on Ukraine

  1. Why did U.S. President Barack Obama let this happen?That’s the question everyone in Washington, DC is asking. It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask—if you are incapable of seeing beyond the very dark hole into which you’ve placed your entire head.

A clever (and tongue in cheek) 6-point review of the Ukraine situation. From the Daily KOS. George W. Bush, out of Ukraine NOW!

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Putin and Crimea

If Putin had just waited, his Soviet Union probably could have gotten Crimea back without firing a shot. From Wikipedia:

The Cimmerians, Bulgars, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Khazars, the state of Kievan Rus’, Byzantine Greeks, Kipchaks, Ottoman Turks, Golden Horde Tatars and the Mongols each controlled Crimea in its earlier history. In the 13th century, it was partly controlled by the Venetians and by the Genoese; they were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire in the 15th to 18th centuries, the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th centuries, Germany during World War II and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and later the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, within the Soviet Union during the rest of the 20th century until Crimea became part of independent Ukraine with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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“We have decided … to support the government.”

“We have decided, not without some internal strife, to support the government.” ~~ Silvio Berlusconi, Italian PM Oct 3, 2013, a week before John Boehner broke the U.S. House logjam and ended the partial government shutdown.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta won a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday (2 October) after Silvio Berlusconi, facing revolt in his own centre-right party, backtracked on threats to bring down the government. ~~ euractive.com October 3

House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that the House “absolutely” will take up the new Senate budget plan — even if he has to rely on mostly Democrats to pass it — and that he expects the partial government shutdown to end by Thursday.

Boehner made the comments in an interview with Cincinnati radio station WLW-AM.

“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” he said. ~~ Foxnews.com, October 16

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The OSS and Ho Chi Minh

“Some will be shocked to find out that the United States and Ho Chi Minh, our nemesis for much of the Vietnam War, were once allies. Indeed, during the last year of World War II, American spies in Indochina found themselves working closely with Ho Chi Minh” – excerpt from the article link. See it in COMMENTARY.

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The Irony of It All: the Snowden Affair

Early this morning I was reading yet another news report on the celebrated and infamous Mr. Snowden, this one on the BBC web site, Edward Snowden documents show NSA broke privacy rules.

No real surprises there, but the following lines of text caught my eye. It caused a flashback to the different world of my youth in the 1950’s and 1960’s:

Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has leaked top secret documents to the US and British media.

He has been given asylum in Russia.

If you’re too young to remember the Cold War years, the salvos of political diatribe hurled back and forth across the continents, the Spy vs. Spy cartoons in MAD Magazine, and the strong and justifiable condemnation of the pervasively brutal authoritarian state then called the Soviet Union, the irony of this all might take longer to sink in.

No matter what else we may think of this Mr. Snowden, he challenged the legality of our national security apparatus, and the authority of the United States of America to clandestinely and indiscriminately intrude into the private affairs of every ordinary American Citizen, without warrant or explicit legal consent.

Not to mention: our hacking into the very most private affairs of Downing Street, Whitehall, Brussels, Prague, Paris, Bonn, or anywhere else in the world.

Thus Mr. Snowden found refuge in Russia, still largely run by the vestiges of the old Soviet KGB apparatus, and there, for a time at least, it would seem, he has been provided refuge and shelter from the wrath of an authoritarian security apparatus, and from lifetime incarceration in some American prison camp.

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Syria, Russia, China

Even the King of Saudi Arabia seemed baffled at the recent United Nations resolution veto by UN members Russia and China.

After all, the Assad regime in Syria is not only killing its own citizens who are engaged in massive protest demonstrations across that country, it is now engaged in the indiscriminate shelling of entire cities, such as Homs, suspected of harboring those unsympathetic to the regime.

The king of Saudi Arabia inserted himself directly into the Syria crisis on Friday, castigating Russia and China for vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution over the weekend aimed at ending the Syrian government’s deadly repression of a nearly year-old uprising.” — New York Times

In today’s airing of the Charlie Rose Show, taped last night, Charlie Rose and guest Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, both commiserated over the veto votes but both agreed that China “probably would not have” vetoed the resolution had its ally Russia not done so. Their reasoning: China, casting about for alternative oil sources, has much looser ties to the Syrian regime, whereas Russia is formally allied with the Assad regime and has supplied it with tanks, armaments and ammunition which is being deployed against Syrian citizens.

In Putin’s Russia, we hear reports the state media has begun reminding Russian citizens once again that “protest” equals “terrorism.” Russia is undergoing its own more modest version of civil demonstration, against the Putin cult of power and rigged elections. Putin is anxious to contain any spread of political conflagration and to avoid unfavorable analogies to the “Arab Spring” developments.

In Sichuan Province in China, international news media report that China has completely sealed off entire counties in the region to prevent people or information from flowing in or out. Ethnic Tibetans in the province have renewed protests against repression, and three of them, so far, have set themselves on fire.

Any differences in the perceived bluntness of the two vetoing superpowers notwithstanding, it is a good time to remember that the more totalitarian the regime, the more it must of necessity fear and suppress freedom of expression.

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The Satanic Vendetta Against Poor, Misunderstood Iran

Iran says an EU ban on imports of Iranian oil is “unfair” and “doomed to fail”, and will not force it to change course on its nuclear programme. — BBC News

OK, we get it. Iran’s enrichment program has far surpassed the needs of peacetime nuclear power and it’s fast approaching weapons-grade uranium stockpiling. Iran can sentence US citizens to death on trumped-up charges of espionage. But when the free world decides to shop elsewhere for its oil needs, that’s “unfair.”

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“Please Vote for Me”

I caught part of a Global Voices PBS World special called “Please Vote for Me.”

“Please Vote for Me” examines the efforts of three 8-year-old students running for class monitor in an elementary school in Wuhan, China. The youngsters are shown campaigning for votes and participating in debates.”

If you are class monitor, you get to show off, build your own political organization, and tell the other kids “Quiet!”

One way to win is influence peddling. “If you vote for me, I’ll appoint you deputy class monitor.” It turns out the really smart kids get elected to this prized grade school position by compiling long lists of one’s competitors’ faults, circulating those to the whole class in order to sway the voting.

Their teacher was Chinese, of course, but for this segment of a grade school kid’s education, they could just use American political consultants.

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