Monthly Archives: November 2013

Understanding Underlying Intention

One of the major weaknesses that people have is a failure to understand the underlying intention of a philosophy or art, and perhaps the greatest strength one can have is to sit and put oneself into the perspective of another with hopes of better understanding them and eliminating them being merely an other and to begin to see them as a participant in our human dialog that is… Whatever it is we are doing here now.

One of the things that cannot be taught is having the power to relinquish one’s egotistical allegiance to a specific ideology, or to put it even more basely, to a specific language of symbolism & preconceived valuations, and subsequently exploring the depths of another’s perspective.  That is to say, each person is (potentially) entrenched not just into an ideology but also into a language that is based largely off of a series of archetypes and symbols that are severely limiting and become a burden on free thought and evaluation.

Most philosophies have a series of stumbling blocks that we have to get past before we can appreciate them as they are intended to be appreciated. And it is challenging to most people to leave their comfort zones — I think it is particularly challenging to the stupid, the cowardly and the lazy, who lack the skills to defend their own sense of goodness, who lack the courage to question their preconceived notions of the good and who are too lazy to actively seek out truth but are satiated.

I also feel that people are also simply too busy and too arrogant to take the time to acknowledge competing ideas and concepts, but if they took the time they would be greatly surprised… It is a rewarding experience to know that one has set aside certain preconceived notions and has established some understanding… In some sense, it is an intellectual triumph to simply switch off one’s limiting thought process; it is almost like thinking in an entirely new language.

No doubt Mullah Mohammed Omar falls into the category of people who think in a language that in its symbolism and valuation is in stark contrast to our own.

I think a good mental exercise and project for people would be to spend the next few weeks thoroughly examining two ideologies and two art forms that they find disgusting or entirely unmoving.

Perhaps what many people will find helpful as they strive to expand their horizons:

Do not view things for the end product, but view them for the intention of the expression, and specifically from the perspective of the expressive agent.

You do not have to sit and say “I like Lo-Fi Black Metal music,” or “I agree with what the Taliban is doing…” Rather, the goal is to understand the underlying intention of the person and thereby view them more as a human and to have thereby reached some higher level of understanding of what it is to be a human.

Perhaps the only good thing that public education has achieved regularly in the Western world is the idea that we are all human, and at least from this conclusion we can appeal to the idea that by understanding the human condition in new ways we have inherently achieved something and cultivated ourselves somehow.

We come closer to understanding the natural impulses that we have… And we com closer to understanding the human form and potential. Too many think that diversity simply means multiple races and nationalities of people living together with some vaguely divergent taste in foods and religious practices but are all good, productive citizens of their respective liberal democracies, but this is hogwash.

Diversity, in its truest form, and in a form that would serve to be a lesson and an enlightening experience, is the appreciation of humanity from various angles. Race is an overdone and overplayed example that most of us have gone beyond… Diversity in any true and valued sense should be a challenging and harrowing experience that brings a person closer to some conclusion, and it is precisely in this sense that the “diversity” we conceive of as being part of our society is little more than a diversity of appearance and not the true & challenging diversity that asks us to step outside of our comfort zones and reexamine our own thoughts.

If it was to achieve something of real value, it would be teaching people to appreciate diverse art forms and to cultivate a worldview that is truly a worldview and not merely interpreting the world through narrow and self-serving eyes.

Iranian Nuclear Deal Struck + Sanctions Lifting

And after years we are finally reaching a deal that is beneficial to both parties – something I was skeptical would ever happen after this consistently piss poor showing we have had from Pres. Obama:

Iran and six of the world’s powers – the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia — agreed on a “first step deal” that is meant to limit advancements in Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing some of the economic sanctions that have deeply hurt Iran’s economy.

All six world powers had sent in their foreign ministers hours before the deal was announced, and several purposely gave the impression it was their participation that was needed to carry the ball across the finish line. Once the ministers arrived, the negotiations set a marathon pace, not ending until about 3 a.m. local time in Geneva (9 p.m. ET).

While the “first step” deal is currently set to last for a period of just six months, it has set off a massive sense of relief on all sides in Geneva as it is expected to make Iran less capable of  building a nuclear bomb for the time being, while at the same time easing the financial pain Iran’s economy has been enduring under the sanctions.

Perhaps most significantly, it also makes a final comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the world suddenly more possible. (NBC (1))

Then there is also the matter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly vociferous objections, and the negative impact the negotiations appear to have had on U.S.-Israeli relations. It will likely also affect U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation, which is threatened by signs of improved U.S. relations with Shia Iran. (NBC (1))

First of all we see the important issue of the soon to be deal for a more fair and stable relationship with Iran, which we definitely need. It came within a fair amount of time after the election, all things considered, though I was getting anxious to see how the Obama regime would deal with Iran.

Jewish Iranian women before a UN building in Tehran showing support for the negotiation process.

There are also reports by some very conservative sites saying that we are giving them $4 billion in aid; this is actually a lie. It is $4 billion in “a break of $4 billion in sanctions relief. Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in foreign exchange as part of an agreement…” (Free Republic)

Free Republic also referred to this as aid, but:

Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels – levels that are 60% less than two years ago.  $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments. (NBC (2))

It seems that a lot of news sites are likewise trying to spin this as some form of aid as opposed to actually being the rightfully earned money of the Iranian people. Of course, this aspect of the deal is worded in a rather confusing way — if anyone could illumine this further for me feel free to comment.

I think that this is all just part of the continued power play to portray the Iranians as a backwards and weak nation while also trying to show the merciful, charitable heart of the United States and her NATO allies.

· Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students. (NBC (2))

Heh, and look how generous the United States and the NATO goons were: they were withholding the transference of tuition assistance so as to prevent Iranian students from getting the benefits that they needed while studying abroad.

They took their politics into the hearts of education and attempted to cripple the regime every way that they can.

Then there is also the matter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly vociferous objections, and the negative impact the negotiations appear to have had on U.S.-Israeli relations. It will likely also affect U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation, which is threatened by signs of improved U.S. relations with Shia Iran. (NBC (1))

I have nothing to say about Israel. They have a lot of concerns of their own concerning their placement there in the ME and all of the issues that they have from taking al-Quds.

But more than anything, what we see here is the way that the Saudi Kingdom will religicize the issue. It is a testament to the division between the Shi’a and Sunni.

It is also important for the Western readers to recognize that the terrorism issue is not one that is largely funded and supported by the Iranians. The Shi’a are far less globalist in aim and perception but rather are more regional and nationalist whereas the Sunni rebels are waging more of a global jihad.

The Saudis, along with the Israelis, were both influencing the Americans for years to be anti-Iranian — and this is, of course, through the power and influence of a Kingdom that is relatively far more strict in the application of Shariah law, taking it to levels that are unimaginable in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Overall, very good news but something that we do have to be careful in how we read in order to insure that we are not being misled by the way the media chooses to portray these deals.

Malala’s 168+ Counterparts; Whether In the Arbitrary Killing Of Children or In Legit Military Operations, Drone Strikes Beat The Taliban Every Time

We all heard of the brave, strong girl who kept on fighting for her education after being shot in the head by the Taliban* or her attendance of a school… And she has those who, similar to her, were injured or killed in attacks from the Taliban but they were largely not publicized…

… Partly because none of their stories were as good as Malala’s. Partly because there really aren’t that many of them as one would think. A tertiary glance finds very few attacks on schools or children done by the Taliban. And one of them was the Mattani attack, an attack which targeted solely the rich & privileged who were attending an all-English academy that was viewed as a Western foot into the door of Peshawar. Of course, only a group of thugs would assail a school bus with machine guns resulting in the deaths of students and the Taliban ought to be viewed as supremely evil for such an event — I would likewise condemn someone who were to drop large ordinance on the heads of random Pakistani homes resulting in the very arbitrary deaths of hundreds of Pakistani civilians…

The media tries to do its best to portray the Taliban as little better than organization of ruthless barbarians who will shoot children in the head for wanting to learn — especially girls, in spite of the fact that the Taliban is not against women’s education:

“Taliban are not opposed to girls education, if it’s within the ambit of Shariah and Islamic education, but they could not support anti-Islamic agendas and Westernized education systems,” Shahid said.

CNN

Rather, the Taliban is merely engaged in a prolonged war against the Western incurcsions into their land — something understandable in terms of this being a conflict of opposing ideologies. It is too simple for some Barbara Walters or Jon Stewart (the Barbara Walters of tomorrow) to go forward and sit quietly with a Malala and talk about the ‘bad men’ and their agenda without the bad men being there, but even in this it is wrong to portray the Taliban as a purely monolithic, evil cartoon that was shooting at people in the name of “no women’s education!” as the media is want to do.

What is also forgotten is the 168 children who have been killed in drone strikes by the US military:

In an extensive analysis of open-source documents, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 2,292 people had been killed by US missiles, including as many as 775 civilians.

The strikes, which began under President George W Bush but have since accelerated during the presidency of Barack Obama, are hated inPakistan, where families live in fear of the bright specks that appear to hover in the sky overhead.

In just a single attack on a madrassah in 2006 up to 69 children lost their lives.

Telegraph

The total number of dead children estimated by this organization is 168. All of these children come from regions inhabited by the insurgent and Islamist organizations.

I am unaware of any stories, however, of life threatening shrapnel injuries to the head causing the child to seek medical attention in a superior medical facility abroad, who would then go on to be paraded before the media as Malala was and denounce the continued campaign of warfare with arbitrary results being used against the people of Pakistan.

But I did find a video of a 9 year old girl who is going to the USA to inquire as to why her grandmother was killed and her house targeted by the US military:

The US and her allies, including the current Pakistani regime, seem to be willing to ignore the 168 counter-examples to Malala that they have steadily produced but rather continue to hail the evil of the Taliban.

Three Children Killed by US Drone Strikes — they seem a bit younger than Malala, but perhaps they could’ve had something to talk about.

One of the lessons that Jesus Christ taught, and a lesson also reiterated by Plato in Book I of the Republic and likewise illustrated in, well, every culture, is that good actions can be known by the results:

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

New International Version

The actions of the US armed forces and their allies in Pakistan have led to the deaths of potentially 168 children; their actions have been reckless and directly destroyed the lives and homes of hundreds of people not involved in the conflict.

Yet, they parade Malala around in front of all — indeed, the Taliban should be held culpable for each child that they massacre in their own impure agenda of imposing their own will, but they have destroyed a far fewer number of lives in their campaign and are being routinely misportrayed by Western media as the sole aggressor to the civilian.

We mustn’t forget that Malala has 168 counterparts that are not represented in Western media who were murdered by cowardly Drone strikes; killed by mindless machines and cruel operators thousands of miles away playing it out as if it were a video game. None of these have received any attention…

But the obvious was already taught to us ages ago by great philosophers and even Prophets: you shall know a tree by its fruit.

It has been obvious since day one that the Taliban is not what we want but what can we possibly think of a military policy being carried out by the Obama administration that is responsible for more children’s deaths, more civilian death, than the Taliban?

*I am not sure whether or not we can use te ‘Taliban’ in this sense to refer to a truly organized and centralized fighting force or whether it is merely the nickname of a very broad amount of interests represented by the Pashtun people as a whole. Certainly, not all Pashtuns, and not all Taliban are Pashtun, but we are looking at a situation where I am just not able to trust the US media in its portrayal of the enemy in the least and can only use this name as I would not know how else to refer to them correctly.

EU Mulls Over Spying On All “Intolerant” Citizens

As the EU sees the steady rise of right wing activity that is seeking to legitimize their power as opposed to operating as fringe groups they are trying to come up with new ways to preserve themselves and potentially begin the prosecution of those who they failed to mold into their narrow definition of proper… Regardless of whether or not you agree with those whom the bill targets, one must recognize that it sets a precedent of government spying on private individuals and continuing targeting of people for thought crimes… In a nutshell, this flies in the face of the human rights we all universally believe to be a fundamental aspect of democratic government.

While European leaders are busy expressing public indignation over reports of American espionage operations in the European Union, the European Parliament is quietly considering a proposal that calls for the direct surveillance of any EU citizen suspected of being “intolerant.”

Critics say the measure — which seeks to force the national governments of all 28 EU member states to establish “special administrative units” to monitor any individual or group expressing views that the self-appointed guardians of European multiculturalism deem to be “intolerant” — represents an unparalleled threat to free speech in a Europe where citizens are already regularly punished for expressing the “wrong” opinions, especially about Islam.

Also known as the “Model Statute for Tolerance,” the ECTR’s proposal was presented as part of the EU’s ongoing work towards a new “Equal Treatment Directive” (ETD) that would vastly expand the scope of discrimination to all sectors of life in both the public and private spheres.

Critics of the ETD, currently being negotiated within the Council of the European Union, say the directive seeks to establish an ill-conceived concept of “equal treatment” as a horizontal principle governing the relationships between all and everyone, thus interfering with the right of self-determination of all citizens.

When viewed in the broader context of the ETD, the ECTR document is so audacious in scope, while at the same time so vague in defining its terminology, that critics say the proposal, if implemented, would open a Pandora’s Box of abuse, thereby effectively shutting down the right to free speech in Europe.

According to Section 1 (d), for example, the term “tolerance” is broadly defined as “respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a group.” Section 2 (d) states that the purpose of the statute is to “condemn all manifestations of intolerance based on bias, bigotry and prejudice.”

The document also declares that “tolerance must be practiced not only by governmental bodies but equally by individuals.” Section 3 (iv) elaborates on this: “Guarantee of tolerance must be understood not only as a vertical relationship (government-to-individuals) but also as a horizontal relationship (group-to-group and person-to-person). It is the obligation of the government to ensure that intolerance is not practiced either in vertical or in horizontal relationships.”

According to Section 4 (f) (i) of the document: “There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom of expression is concerned.” Section 5 (a) states: “Tolerance (as defined in Section 1(d)) must be guaranteed to any group, whether it has long-standing societal roots or it is recently formed, especially as a result of migration from abroad.”

Gatestone Institute

Goodbye, free speech.

Goodbye, privacy.

The EU is readying to put the final nails into the coffin of civic rights if they pass this bill — one that will be proposed as a series of policies meant to crack down on Anders Breivik, and one that will be seen as a way of keeping hate groups under control…

But a policy that is capable of stripping people of basic freedoms if they say anything politically incorrect. The right to privacy, the right to having a sour opinion, will soon vanish in favor of a flavorless society with an enforced PC environment.

This could be relevant to Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others that are against the GLBTQ movement.

This could be relevant against atheists that may be accused of Islamophobia in their criticism of Islam.

This is relevant to the general far right wing on nearly every front…

The bill essentially trounces on the rights of people to have opinions that are disapproved of and begins setting a precedent of government spying on perceived political dissidents.

Even if you are the model EU citizen who toes the line in every fashion, this is the beginning of a worrisome precedent that cracks down on the civic rights of people and you should be worried and upset.

Needless to say: anyone who understands the spirit of Democracy and the spirit of Liberty must oppose these measures which violate the basic rights of the individual on all levels and sets a precedent for government abuse of its powers.

Iran Ready To Negotiate W/ Moderate Regime; US Government & Allies Look At Their Wristwatches Uncomfortably & Ask To Be Excused To Go To The Bathroom

Every NATO leaders worst nightmare: positive regime change happens democratically in an ‘Axis of Evil’ country ushering in a far more agreeable leader who is ready to meet all the requirements… A fellow ready to negotiate, who is moderate and who is ready to come to a real agreement with them.

NATO never wanted Rouhani – they always wanted a more hardline regime in order t propagate stereotypes and maintain a certain image of a country they have a decades long policy of opposing.

So this is what happens.

TEHRAN — Less than a week before the next round of nuclear talks in Geneva, it is still not clear why the last round failed, and who exactly walked away from the deal. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has laid the blame on the Western powers, saying they were divided. He says he has little to do now but wait for the world powers to get their act together.

“It’s the United States which should get their partners on board, not Iran,” said Mohammad Ali Shabani, a political analyst with close ties to Mr. Zarif. “From the information that is available, what was on the table was an American proposal. It was France that ripped into it, not Iran.”

It is a message tailored to his domestic audience, but not everyone here is buying it. Whatever happened behind closed doors, analysts say, Mr. Zarif had little choice but to take this line.

High hopes on all sides were shattered last weekend when Iran and the world powers failed to reach an interim agreement that could have led to reining in Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears is a cover for producing nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry said that Mr. Zarif and his team balked after having been faced with a unified proposal that went further than the Iranian leadership was prepared to go. Mr. Zarif fired back on Twitter, hinting that the Americans had failed to get their ally France behind their own proposal, allowing France to sabotage the deal.

Following Mr. Zarif’s lead, Iranian politicians, clerics, commanders and state news media outlets have been criticizing France. Students are threatening to occupy the French Embassy in Tehran and politicians are calling for a boycott of French products — not that there are very many because of the sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program.

NY TImes

The Iranians had been very clear on their intentions from day one of Rouhani that they are ready to negotiate and have no intention to seek nuclear weapons, and has said that he is going to abandon the approach of former leader Ahmadinejad which… Of course… seems likely as his entire support base is the opposite of that of Ahmadinejad.

We are literally talking of a switch of governments that is significant; Rouhani & Ahmadinejad are quite different. In fact, one could say that they are far more different than Bush and Obama, especially now as Pres. Obama balks at the opportunity to reach an actual deal with the Iranians.

This is where we can start coming to the end of the line for those who view the Obama administration as some positive and open minded group that was going to revolutionize international policy: they talk as if they are open minded and ready to be dynamic negotiators but in reality they merely like to pretend they are open to negotiation and have no desire to change a decades long view of Iran as an unrepentant enemy.

It is pigheadedness. It is a refusal to bend and consider friendship. It is a refusal to even legitimize the authority of the new Iranian leadership which is decidedly looked up to by the moderate elements.

In short, it is everything that the Obama administration said it would not be: a super hawkish Pres. Bush that would be unwilling (or too daft) to accept change in Iran…

I guess if I had voted for Obama it would be a great time for the double facepalm.

… And now we bring to you predictable reporting on the savagery of North Korea…

It was not surprising to anyone to hear the news that Kim Jong-eun is a terrible degenerate who murders his own people. Perhaps it was a little surprising to hear that a grand total of 80 were executed and some of them in public places where 10,000 people were brought in to observe these executions, and perhaps it was surprising that mere watching of South Korean videos or possession of a Bible could warrant one be publicly killed (Fox).

But, by and large, this was expected by everyone as it follows the pattern of this corrupt and hostile regime. I even wonder why I am bothering writing about this — sure, it is not every day that people are specifically rounded up to observe executions, but it is frequent enough of an occurrence and frankly a rather morbid piece of news that I can do nothing about nor dwell on. This, in fact, ceases to be news but is mere part of the continued reporting of the suffering of the people of the North…

Perhaps it would be better to refer to this as an obligatory act of recording for historical record.

What is more news than anything is hearing that this thug is building a water park in the capital to go with more of the entertainment facilities he already has established. The theme of the Kim Jong-eun regime is not unlike that of the Hussein regime: to let his elite supporters prosper in the midst of death and starvation.

Part of me wonders what I am to say about the whole of this and… I guess I will just leave it at that the most fascinating part of this is that we, as humans, do not feel a particular yearning to interfere even when it is a scenario as catastrophic as this. I can understand balking to interfere in Syria or Egypt where it is a far more personal fight and it is one where the people are capable of, say, having contact with the outside world, which while a small luxury is at least somewhat humanizing…

But North Korea’s political situation is so ridiculous it ceases to be even political and it more closely resembles that of a natural disaster — one where the restriction, oppression and murder is horrific enough as to be an utterly predictable machine of havoc and terror that has been a menace on the peninsula for decades. Who needs a plethora of natural disasters taking out people year by year when you have a dictator who is getting it done…

I guess what is funny is that we send aid to Haiti, aid to the Philippines, aid to New Orleans with the general idea that these things will go to use, and that the natural disaster is largely over. But when we send aid to the North, it is the closest we are getting to sending actual help to people who perpetually live in a cyclone of destruction.

Egyptian Kung Fu Fighter Faces Ban Over Support For Pro-Morsi Movement

The Rabaa movement is essentially the group which backs Morsi not just for the ‘spirit of democracy’ that many Egyptians support but are also ideologically closely aligned to him. You could say that they are the ones who are really the primary target of the violence of the junta. Rabaa is a group that is pro-Morsi and is largely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is quickly showing itself as a potential Middle Eastern ‘Third Positionist’ party — that is to say, anti-Capitalist, anti-Leftist and populistic. It rejects the notion that they need to trudge down the same roads as the whole of liberal democracy.

Regardless of whether or not you disagree with this basic premise is largely irrelevant as you are not an Egyptian, and, wouldn’t it certainly be a bit silly to suggest to the Egyptians to inherit our own broken system because we, ourselves, may feel a bit partial to them? Especially considering that our problems and those of the Egyptians are nothing remotely similar.

But here we have a gold medalist Kung Fu fighter who has taken a stand by wearing the t-shirt that symbolizes the conservative Muslim resistance to the military coup:

What I found kind of funny is the way that he continues to tactfully back away from the movement and pretends the shirt is a mere commemoration of the deaths of ‘friends.’ Naturally, the fellow is afraid to come out and say that he is a believer in the movement and an active supporter — and no one is dumb enough to believe that he is stupid enough to be so profoundly apolitical and ignorant of the situation to wear such a symbol during the most climactic moments of his nations politics.

I do admit to smiling a bit as he kept backing away from the stance… He also did so in such a fashion that I suspect his friends are laughing in front of their TV sets.

It is interesting to see the general repression of the legitimate winners of the election continue — it certainly sends a mixed message to the entirety of the Middle East and the Muslim world: we want you to democratize and we support your efforts but only if you cease to be Muslims.