By connecting humans to one another, the internet has revolutionized communication, and by extension it has also revolutionized aspects of every other discipline. This can be seen quite clearly in the lightning-fast response to the post-earthquake humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
Within an hour of the quake, news reports were disseminated across the globe instantly. Those reports made mention of the quake, its location, and its severity. That put aid agencies on alert, and sparked hundreds of thousands of subsequent phone calls between consular officials, humanitarian/aid organizations, foreign militaries, airlines, medical staff, concerned families, et cetera. The fight to save Haiti became viral, and the virus’ method of delivery was undoubtedly the internet.
The internet has allowed for much more than quick dissemination and virality of news results. On Wednesday, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal posted image galleries online which effectively communicate the scale of the destruction to outsiders. The image galleries act as a crucial emotional appeal to humans’ nurturing instincts, and are most probably responsible for a surge in the size and quantity of charitable donations being made.
Already, Haitian-American recording artist Wyclef Jean has managed to raise more than $750,000 for his Haiti-focused charity, Yele, by soliciting donations via Twitter. His charity accepts donations via the internet, and through SMS shortcode (Anyone on an American wireless carrier who texts ‘YELE’ to the phone number 501 501 makes a donation of $5 to Yele which is charged to their mobile phone bill). Without the viral platform that Twitter offers, Wyclef Jean’s charity surely would have raised much less money.
The immediacy, virality, and rich media offered by our modern internet has surely helped save the lives of Haitians who would’ve perished without it.
If you’d like to make a donation to the relief effort, consider the following organizations:
I’ve just come across perhaps the funniest yet-undiscovered thing on the internet. It seems that young people in Latin America are stylizing their Facebook profile photos, and with predictably hilarious results:
Classy. Bonus points for the stars in the background.
How could she still be single with that money profile pic?
Killin’ it with those shades! Don’t mess with this muchacho.
DANGER! Skinny dancers! Yay-yo!
Adding insult to injury, many of the accused joined the ‘Panama City, FL’ regional network–instead of their native Panama–by mistake.
I’ll let y’all find the rest.
Due to an apparently fraudulent election in Iran, an interesting situation has presented itself. One in which the world would be much better off if the man controlling the White House was former-President George W. Bush.
One of the most hated Presidents in recent memory (if not the entirety of American history), George W. Bush managed to divide the nation into hostile camps of partisanship. He led a war into a foreign country that did not attack America, going against the traditional anti-war stance the Republican party had held for much of U.S. history (including Vietnam). He changed tax policy to increase the amount of earnings that the rich could keep, which both inductively and effectively led to increasing wealth inequality and disparity, fanning the flames of class warfare . And he was a foreign policy hawk, largely due to the construction of his cabinet which included prominent gung-ho warriors like Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz.
Barack Obama, in contrast, is a foreign policy diplomat. His message as well as his actions indicate a desire to show a new face to the world: an America that engages other nations constructively as an observer, but neither infringes on nations’ sovereignty nor involves itself in their internal affairs.
Enter the 2009 Presidential Elections of Iran. It’s come to light that Mr. Ahmedinejad, the victor, may have actually come in 3rd in votes. The vote was certified within three hours of being counted, whereas Iranian election law dictates that they be certified no earlier than three days after an election, so as to allow for appeals on grounds of corruption or voting-tally errors. The security services have green-lighted a provision to allow police to fire upon demonstrators and protesters who dare question the results, and have already begun shooting protesters in exactly this fashion.
It is time for a change of the political system in Iran, the first major change since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. A young and resurgent Iran demands Democracy and modernity, and now needs to rip the power away from the entrenched theocracy, the Mullahs, and the (Grand) Ayatollah (Al-Sistani).
Equally important to the Iranian people’s revolutionary actions would be American intervention. The United States’ CIA is widely-known as being responsible for the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq in August 1953, and is just as able to foment a revolution in Tehran now as they were then.
The best outcome of these election irregularities would be a peaceful popular uprising and a revolution. The mullahs, however, have other ideas, and would be a strong adversary during a revolution. The mullahs would call up the military to institute martial law in order to keep the revolutionary hordes down. Because of the mullahs and their power, the most likely endeavour to bring about revolution in Iran would require outside (U.S.) intervention in addition to a popular uprising.
With Barack Obama sitting in the White House being the calculated and ‘safe’ President that he has shown himself to be time after time, it is not likely that we will see strong support from him for an aggressive U.S. response/intervention. Doing that would go against not only the principles that he ran on and his outspoken stance against the war in Iraq, but against his subconscious self that has been shaped by his experiences in politics and law for decades.
Barack Obama is not the President who will help Iran over the pass and into the Valley of Liberty and Prosperity.
But who is?
The first man who comes to mind is none other than George W. Bush. Bush’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush served for a time as Director of Central Intelligence under Gerald Ford, and knows of the CIA’s capabilities regarding illegal and unauthorized activities and intervention on foreign soil (he was actually called in by Ford to investigate and clean-up the agency of this kind of activity). Bush 41 also led the charge of Desert Storm into Kuwait and Iraq in 1990 and is likewise quite willing to use the military and the CIA in defense of America’s interests abroad. Bush 41′s son, George W. Bush, was likewise a war-hawk, willing to intervene for global interests and to ensure that authoritarian hegemony has no safe harbor in our modern world. He and his cabinet led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 in addition to the occupation of Afghanistan, and managed the occupations until his two-term presidency ended in January 2009.
If George W. Bush were the President of the United States, he and his cabinet would likely support and execute a covert intervention in Iran and supply the Iranian revolutionaries with intelligence, supplies, and money. Such a development would be best for Iran and the world, but because Barack Obama is such a measured and calculating anti-war President, American intervention is unlikely. Iran and the world will doubtlessly suffer because of this cruel joke of history.
It’s now up to the Iranian people to rise up, as Ukraine did in 2004, and do what must be done–with or without the help of a passive and unassertive America.
Cameron Newland is a mobile phone expert and technology writer from Seattle, Washington. You can subscribe to his blog’s RSS feed by clicking here, and follow his Tweets here. He can be reached at cameron at cameronnewland dot com.
“The number of hungry people in the world could soon hit a record 1 billion, despite a recent drop in food prices, the U.N. food aid organization said Wednesday.”
How about this: STOP FUCKING HAVING KIDS! Then there won’t be any starving people!
I wish this was a joke, too:
The ANC has promised to create jobs to help slash a 21.9 percent unemployment rate [in South Africa], the highest of 62 countries tracked by Bloomberg…
I’m sure that Zimbabwe has higher unemployment, but still, 22 percent is riddonkulous.
If you’re a Venezuelan politician, not a member of Hugo Chavez’s party, and you’re popular among the electorate, expect to be arrested on ‘corruption’ charges any second now.
On Saturday, Kung-Fu comedian and Chinese patriot Jackie Chan had this to say about freedom in his country:
I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not…I’m really confused now. If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic….I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.
A group of Chinese scholars published a letter on the Internet on Monday accusing Chan of “not understanding how precious freedom is,” even though “free Hong Kong provided the conditions for you to become an international action star.”
A Facebook group set up by Hong Kong users calling for Chan to be exiled to North Korea had drawn more than 2,600 members by Tuesday.
In 1960, a gallon of gas cost 31 cents, Princeton University undergraduates were all male, the Braves played in Milwaukee, and Fidel Castro’s Cuba was under a U.S. trade embargo. Today, gas costs more than $2 a gallon, Princeton has a female president as well as female students, the Braves make their home in Atlanta, and Fidel Castro’s Cuba is…under a U.S. trade embargo.
by Michael C. Moynihan
Originally published at Reason
To the threatening sounds of “Bring Me My Machine Gun,” a song he appropriated for his 2008 campaign, supporters of African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma gathered at party headquarters to celebrate the South African state prosecutor’s decision to drop all corruption charges against a man widely seen to be the country’s next leader. Zuma, who has called homosexuality “a disgrace to the nation and to God” and recently went on trial for allegedly raping a family friend, has a rather colorful background, as described in a long, detailed, and depressing piece by Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday:
Zuma has at least four wives and 18 children. He has for years avoided standing trial on fraud and corruption charges. Nobody seriously believes he ever will: his approaching election is already spreading fear in South Africa’s legal establishment.
Mr Zuma joined the Communist Party in 1962 (he only left a few years ago), and has a dark and inadequately examined past as a much-feared intelligence chief in the ANC’s ruthless armed wing, Spear of the Nation. He underwent ‘military training’ in the old Soviet Union in 1978, when the KGB was very much in charge of such things…
He once spoke of how, in his youth, he would knock down any ‘pansy boy’…He is keen on traditional medicine men. He thinks teenage unwed mothers should have their babies taken away; that school prayers should be compulsory. His political party, the African National Congress, sometimes seems aghast that it has chosen him as leader. Too late.
North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong Il has accomplished a miracle: Pizza in Pyongyang.
It has taken almost 10 years of work, but North Korea has acquired the technology to launch a project very dear to its leader’s heart—the nation’s first “authentic” Italian pizzeria.
For those of you keeping score at home:
New York, center of capitalism: 1,520 pizza joints
Pyongyang, communist hermit kingdom: 1 pizza joint
And the Pyongyang v. New York pizza smack-down above doesn’t even take into account per capita figures. New York has 9 million residents. North Korea has 24 million (starving) residents. Thus this charming contrast:
Despite the food shortages high-quality Italian wheat, flour, butter and cheese are being imported to ensure the perfect pizza is created every time.
Kim Jong Il’s plan to provide pizza for the toiling masses of North Korea seems to have worked out better than his earlier plan to alleviate food shortages by breeding imported giant rabbits, which was aborted when the greedy Dear Leader decided to eat the initial batch of rabbits himself.
Vladimir Putin (left), then a KGB agent, posing as a tourist for Ronald Reagan’s 1988 visit:
In talks hosted by Cairo, Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a national unity government by the end of March!
Preace process, +1pt.
When Russian sociologist Yevgeny Gontmakher, writing in the newspaper Vedomosti, outlined a “Novocherkassk 2009″ scenario (a reference to the 1962 strike at the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Factory) in which massive job layoffs, precipitated by falling oil prices, would cause social unrest, both the paper and author were sternly warned that they could be prosecuted for “inciting extremism.” He should, though, be congratulated for his prescience. A month later, the Kremlin instituted massive tariffs on imported automobiles in an effort to “protect” the Russian automobile industry. Imports fell dramatically, jobs in the port of Vladivostok dried up, workers protested, and Putin sent in the truncheon-wielding Chekists to throw the protesters in police vans. It was an underreported story in the United States (though the New York Times did a good piece on the Vladivostok uprising, few others noticed), probably because such anti-democratic actions by the Putin regime seem to us so banal at this point.
In other underreported Russia news, being a journalist for the independent daily Novaya Gazeta is still one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Der Spiegel has a decent piece on the recent murder of Anastasia Baburova, an investigative journalist at Novaya Gazeta who was shot in Moscow by a masked gunman using a silenced pistol. Her companion, human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who served as counsel for the murdered Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politskaya, was also gunned down.
It was an execution in broad daylight, in the middle of Moscow’s “Golden Mile,” a neighborhood of high-priced mansions and old townhouses not far from the Kremlin. Once again Izvestiya, a pro-government daily, was quick to assign blame for the killings to the West.
Markelov had worked closely with the Russian human rights organization Memorial, whose offices were recently raided by government forces. They confiscated hard drives full of material related to Stalin’s various purges.
Originally appeared in Reason: The Further Unraveling of Democratic Russia, by Michael C. Moynihan.
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