Saturday, February 25, 2006

NYP Tammy Craze Sweeps the Web

You know, I obviously spend way to much time reading serious news, because I totally missed the whole NYP Tammy story. Which is a shame, because this is really funny.

The story goes that this 17-year-old girl, Tammy, from Singapore decided to film herself having on her cell phone having sex with her 21-year-old boyfriend in her school, Nanyang Polytechnic. Stupid? You better believe it. But it would have been no big deal if a high school rival hadn’t swiped the phone one day, found the video, and distributed it to the entire web, making it readily available for download.

From what I’m reading this was about a week ago, and it still dominates the search list at Technorati. Tammy is pretty much humiliated, as is her family, which I suppose in understandable considering everyone seems to have seen the video, and the DVD version is on sale at the newspaper stand down the street from the family. The DVD has a rap soundtrack synced to it, featuring “Me So Horny” in time with the action.

I’ve never seen the video, so I don’t even know if this picture, found on the Capital Region People blog, is actually Tammy. But I gotta say, how can you be so stupid? I don’t know why you would make the video in the first place, but to leave it on your phone where anyone can get to it, get a clue. Talk about making a mistake while young that will affect you for the rest of your life. Ouch!

Follow-up: a commentor indicated the first picture might have been taken as offensive, so I replaced it with a picture of a random girl from Singapore about 17 years old, by my estimation. This is not Tammy! If I offended anyone with the first photo, my apologies.

Further foolow-up: OK, I took down the photo, but I have to say you guys are ridiculous. There are approximately 30,000 sites showing the picture which I took down yesterday because someone objected, and replaced it with a clean, clothed picture of a girl from the front page of Tamil Murasu, the daily newspaper in Singapore...what could be wrong with that? I think if you had an objection to that, you are far too sensative, sorry. But, in the spirit of not upsetting people, I took it down. So I guess that means the only upset person is me.

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Posted by Scottage at 4:14 PM / | |  

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hamas Stages Peaceful Protest

After 6 Palestinians were killed by Israeli Defense Forces on Thursday, the Palestinian Prime Minister Elect, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, called for Palestinians to protest in the streets. But for the first time I can remember since the two nations/two states rallies of the late 80s, the new Prime Minister called for a peaceful protest.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets, but there were no guns, no violence. Is this a sign that things are really changing, or is it a political ploy by Hamas? Neither the Jerusalem Post nor Ha’aretz reported the peaceful protest, but I hope the country noticed. It may be the first indications that they have misjudged the new regime in Palestine.

Ha’aretz did run a picture of the Palestinians marching in Nablus with an angry looking protestor, and no indication that the rally was peaceful. The picture links to a story about the 6 Palestinians killed today, but there is no mention of the rally. Both papers reported that Hamas wasn’t firing Qassam rockets, but were equally guilty for providing assistance to militants who are firing Qassams.

Hamas has been elected to support the public welfare and to provide assistance in terms of food, medicine, and supplies to all citizens of Palestine, whether they are firing Qassams or not. Hamas cannot be expected to enforce Israel’s siege of the militants. Instead, Israel should note that Hamas no longer takes an active role in the attacks. Isn’t this a good sign?

The new government may not be taking the actions that Israel or the US wants, but they are making clear signs with their actions that they are trying to reform their ways, at least somewhat. Why is it so horrible to give them a chance, and give ourselves a chance for peace? Maybe I’m naïve in giving them another chance, but I feel like there is little to lose in talking.

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Posted by Scottage at 3:01 AM / | |  

Bond Director Busted for Solicitation

Director Lee Tamahori, most famous for directing the Bond film “Die Another Day” has been arrested for soliciting two undercover police officers for sex. OK, a director soliciting prostitutes, no big deal, right? It probably happens every day. But from the office of the ironic, his plea bargain is classic. To repay his debt to society, Tamahori has to clean up Hollywood.

Along with three years of probation and an AIDS education course, Tamahori has to perform 15 days of community service working for the Hollywood Beautification Project. To me, this seems like an awfully fitting punishment, considering the film industry has so much to do with the mess Hollywood has become. Perhaps the law should state that, from this day forward, any person connected with the filming industry who gets arrested should have to work for this project. Hollywood would be cleaned up inside of a year.

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Posted by Scottage at 2:56 AM / | |  

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bush, The Carlyle Group, and the UAE: Who Really Benefits from this Deal?

I have been waiting to weigh in on the controversy revolving around the outsourcing of management of 6 ports to a firm from the United Arab Emirates until I had more information. I certainly didn’t want to confirm accusations that I am blindly anti-Bush, so I wanted to make sure that I had a fair amount of information before weighing in on an issue that raises very serious security concerns to me. Well, now even more information is in, and I can keep quiet no longer.

When Bush first made the announcement that, should congress object to this sale he would use his power of veto to protect the arrangement I became skeptical. The use of the veto power is a big thing, and normally reserved only for extremely important issues. Presidencies have changed drastically over intelligent or unwise use of the veto power. So why use it for a business deal? To my knowledge Bush has not wielded the stamp before, why now, over an issue that does very little for the US, other then earning us money, but that has very real concerns attached to it. I figured there must be something more.

My gut told me that this was another Bush business deal, and that he and his family are probably was making big bucks somehow in this deal. But here we go again, the anti-Bush sentiment clearly showing through. And of course the telltale signs of the underhanded Bush dealings were not present. If this was “one of those deals”, I would have expected to see two articles in the press, seemingly mutually exclusive, but both protecting Bush’s backside: one stating that Bush didn’t know about the deal and another saying Bush had already put measures in place to protect the nation.

This morning I woke up to both articles. It was Knight Ridder’s Washington Bureau, a news outlet which takes the term “right wing” to a whole new dimension, who first reported that Bush didn’t know about the transaction.

While defending the deal, McClellan acknowledged that the president didn't know that his administration's interagency task force had approved it until the media began reporting the growing political reaction to it last week. Bush wasn't informed earlier because the interagency review found nothing to raise it to the presidential level, McClellan said.

So now I knew I was looking for a second piece for the classic Bush model one saying that there was an agreement in place, Bush brokered, which protects the US. I found that on Breitbart.

The Bush administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

Breitbart being a more central publication goes on to say that the ‘secret deal” did not only protect the US, but also helped the UAE push the deal through.

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

OK, first a few major points. If the Bush administration did not know about the deal before it was reported, how did they broker a deal in advance of the negotiations? And what makes this agreement any different than the agreement Iran made with the IAEA before originally beginning their nuclear enrichment program? What is to stop this company from, somewhere down the road, decided not to comply with this deal, and stop providing records to the US of foreign operational direction? The real answer is that it won’t be Bush’s problem, probably, because he’s only in office another 2 years.

Perhaps the best point raised was by my friend James, who pointed out the connection between the Bush family, the UAE, Tony Blair, and seemingly everyone else in favor of this deal: the Carlyle group. James ties the incident in with Bush’s allegiance to this group and the players within it, and I agree. This is exactly the type of arrangement that has made this group billions of dollars over the years, and put many players in the grouping positions of power throughout the world. And it’s the type of arrangement that can provide the Bush family and other Carlyle members with access to the office of the presidency again in upcoming years.

The Carlyle group was founded in 1987, and is named after the Carlyle Hotel, where they first met to discuss their idea, which some say is a plan for world domination. The current chairman is Lou Gerstner, Former CEO of IBM, and the group includes such notables as both Bush’s, Colin Powell, James Baker, Alice Albright, Tony Blair, and Arthur Levitt, to name a few. The group has often been accused of political arbitrage, and all have retained amazing wealth from various political investments, raising a conflict of interest in many cases that should be irreconcilable. Craig Unger said that Saudi Arabian interests have given $1.4B to the Bush family through the group. Cha-ching!

It should be noted that both the group and the UAE have strong ties to the bin Laden family, and while the family maintains that Osama is the black sheep of the family and not communicated with any more, blood is thicker than water. And Osama bin Laden definitely still has ties to the UAE, ties which led bin Laden to escape once already while on UAE soil, as Bush wanted to show respect to the UAE.

Folks, if there is any action more fraught with danger than giving management of these ports, including Baltimore, New York, and my Philadelphia, over to a group which our own president tells me is our #1 enemy, please tell me what it is. In the mean time, the fact that Bush would stand so firm behind this horrible deal tells us that we need to question his motives. Hopefully, before the deal is done, and it’s too late to prevent a serious breech in our nation’s security.

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Posted by Scottage at 1:39 PM / | |  

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Palestinian Bird Flu Should be Cooperation Point, But Could be Threatening Point

I was thrilled to see the headline on the Jerusalem Post, “Israel, PA Join Forces to fight Bird Flu". But what I found wasn’t a report about how well these two opposing parties are working together to avert a public health crisis. It was a warning to the Palestinians that they will cease to receive this type of aid if Hamas is allowed to take power.

Security officials warned that once Hamas establishes the new Palestinian government, the possibility of maintaining such close coordination and contacts with Palestinians on such issues are doubtful. "If Israel's policy is to refrain from speaking with Hamas, then once the new Palestinian government is instated and new ministers take their posts, all contacts will be stopped," a security official said.

There are questions as to whether there is an outbreak of bird flu or Foot-and-mouth syndrome in Gaza, as initial tests were negative for either disease (if that is the right word). But there is no question that conditions in Gaza have deteriorated quickly with the lack of money coming in from Israel and the US. Gaza could be a breeding ground for both these diseases, and a germ doesn’t recognize politics, it attacks whoever it comes into contact with.

Israel should be looking at this as a humanitarian issue, an issue that endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them innocents, many of them against the violence that haunts the region. Instead, Israel only sees the dangers presented to Israelis and the leverage they can gain from the situation.

"It is in Israel's interest to ensure that agricultural standards in Gaza are maintained," Uri Madar, head of the agricultural division at the Erez District Coordinating Office told The Jerusalem Post, as he prepared to transport the samples and dead fowl to Israel's veterinary service laboratories in Beit Dagan.

Madar recognizes that a bird flu or foot and mouth disease epidemic in Gaza will soon spread to Israel, and he is citing this as his reason for working with the PA to provide help. But this is a humanitarian issue, and politics has no business playing a role. But later Madar pointed to that exact situation, and said that politics comes first.

"It is our job to separate between political and humanitarian issues and professional needs. We exchange information, and assist the Palestinians if problems arise and supply them with vaccines when needed," he said. In the future, if the government decides to halt all contacts with the PA, he has no recourse but to comply. "I am a government employee and will abide by all decisions issued by the top government echelon," said Madar.

If Israel leaves the people of Gaza without vaccines for this epidemic, it will be as bad as leaving the Sabra and Shatilla camps to be slaughtered. We can’t allow this to happen. Many of these people are innocent victims, and Israel must find its humanity and protect them. If we want good neighbors, we have to be good neighbors to, and good people. And right here, in a basic issue like this, is where it begins.

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Posted by Scottage at 4:57 PM / | |  

Tag, You're It

Well, evidently I have been tagged. Never been tagged before, so I didn’t know what it was until a bit ago. But evidently it means that I’m supposed to answer these questions and add 4 more people that need to answer the question. People who I tag, please don’t be pissed at me. It’s fun, and maybe you’ll dig it.

BTW, Lydia was the one who tagged me. She’s got a great site, very funny, and she’s cute too. However, for inflicting this new burden on me, feel free to go to her site and inflict her with any ridicule you can think of. I suspect it’s a fitting punishment. Now, without further ado:

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?
Totally color, for the most part I get bored at B&W.

2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?
Fashion. I just don’t get it, at all.

3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium
for prerecorded music?
MP3s…I have converted all my CDs to MP3, and it allows me to always have a good supply of fresh music at my fingertips.

4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
See you…. I’ve picked up and left before, so it wouldn’t be horrible, I pick up the ties at the appropriate time. However, there is now someone, for the first time in a long time, that would give me pause, so maybe I wouldn’t now, but it’s not exactly against my nature.

5: Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now?
The growing divide between Islam and the Western world. As tensions continue to increase, I think this will become a more all-encompassing issue than any the world has faced since the 1930s.

6: How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue?
Unfortunately, I think it will eventually come to war, and much sooner than any of us would want. Two months ago I would have said there were some things we could have done to at least delayed this, and given us time to find a diplomatic solution, but I think that time has passed.

7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?
I’m not big into regrets. You make the most out of your life, and keep moving forward.

8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?
I would prevent the Holocaust.

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry –Which do you choose?
Neither….perhaps a Rolling Stones concert?

10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve?
Who killed JFK? Although who paid for Florida's electorial votes in the 2000 presidential election would be a close second.

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
Earnest Hemmingway, he would tell amazing stories. And I would serve swordfish.

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?
I’m a big believer in morality, independent of the existence of a heaven or hell; you need to be good to your neighbor and treat people fairly so all people can have a good life. So if I were to celebrate, it would only be with something that would only effect me, and not hurt anyone else. However, I’ve done much of that stuff, and don’t really care to try the other things,, so I’m not sure a celebration’s necessary.

OK, so time to tag 4 other people. Well, here goes, and everyone check these blogs out, they’re all great!
Desert Peace


Posted by Scottage at 1:47 PM / | |  

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Let’s Compare Protests

The past few weeks, many European countries, or people from Western nations living in the Middle East, have cowered in fear as they Muslims throughout the world raged against the publishing of the Mohammed Cartoons by a Danish newspaper. People were killed, embassies were burned, and the world panicked as Muslims took to the street. What role the cartoons actually had in this controversy is debatable, but no question, this was a serious protest.

Well, over the past week, another protest has started, but I’m not nearly as scared of the ramifications with this protest.

A struggling lingerie store in Augusta, Maine, your typical small town USA, needed to pick up sales, so they took a new tact. They hired live lingerie models to pose in their windows leading into Valentine’s Day, targeting the holiday as an essential period for good sales.

At first, the models really had no effect. Sales stayed low, and the store was thinking they would have to lay off the models before Valentine’s Day. But then, the protests came. The citizens of August marched on the little lingerie store, demanding they remove the models from the window. And lo and behold, the protestors brought customers with them.

As coverage of the protests grew, more and more people came to the lingerie store. A second lingerie store, directly across Water Street from the first lingerie store, hired live models for their window. And now an empty store front down the street has been rented by a third lingerie store, making Augusta, Maine a virtual lingerie hub in Northern New England, where they come juuust short of selling sex.

Oh, those fearsome protests in the West. When people march in the United States, they obviously make a huge difference. For my part, I am apparently the root of all evil, as I printed one of the Mohammed cartoons, and I am ready for a road trip to Augusta. What can I say, it sounds like fun. Wasn’t there a store like that in the Will Smith movie, “Enemy of the State”? Anyway, I thought the dichotomy was funny.

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Posted by Scottage at 11:24 PM / | |  

Iran Insulates Nuclear Program

Today the negotiations between Russia and Iran failed, as Iran refused to cease their nuclear program under any circumstances. This comes a day after Iran struck a deal with China that would make Iran Chan’s top oil supplier, in exchange for higher technologies.

By striking a deal with China, Iran greatly strengthens ties with an important player in the UN Security Council, and another military powerhouse with loose ties, at best, to the West. Indeed, were a conflict to arise between the West and the Middle East, many question which side China would come in on.

I had no real hope that Iran would accept any solution that would include the cessation of their own nuclear development. I believe Iran does want a nuclear weapon, and they want to construct it without the West knowing the timeline for their program and the strength of their weaponry. It’s a tactical military move, and can only be accomplished if Iran enriches its own Uranium.

But this does lend a note of finality, an air that the line has been drawn, and there are no real options left. The IAEA meets March 6th, and they’ll decide the world’s next move against this growing threat. And meanwhile, countries like the US and Israel will decide if they can or will take action on their own. But the last option has failed, so all countries must decide how to proceed.

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Posted by Scottage at 10:39 PM / | |  

Potential Peace Talks between Hamas and Olmert Possible

For the first time since Hamas’ election win, Olmert has not 100% ruled out the possibility of talks with Hamas. Olmert believes that the odds of finding a “quick agreement” are much smaller now that Hamas is in charge, but eventually reaching an agreement is not out of the question.

"But the hope has not disappeared, and I am responsible for both things, the battle against Hamas and maintaining hope, the chance to reach an agreement," Olmert said.

I know many people, probably most people, disagree with this opinion, but I think this is a great first step. Yes, Hamas has done horrible things to Israel over the years. But give the organization a chance to show that there are changes, even if it’s not all the changes you want. Sometimes you have to take a risk to reach your goal.

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Posted by Scottage at 4:22 PM / | |  

First of the Top 10 Dangers: Growing Conflict between the West and the Middle East

I got excellent responses to my post on the top 10 dangers in to the Western world, so I’m going to push right into the first piece. Over the next two days, I’ll be building my post on the growing conflict between the Muslim world and the Western world. Thus, any help that you can provide as far as good posts which I should read and incorporate into the article would be appreciated.

Of course, creating the post will only be the beginning of what I hope will be a living, breathing document that we can keep developing together to comprehensively look at all sides of the issue. But for now, this will be a good starting ground. So if you know any good posts, please submit them here, and I hope to have my post on the issue ready by late Wednesday night.

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Posted by Scottage at 3:18 AM / | |  

Monday, February 20, 2006

Democrat’s New Plan for Iraqi Withdrawal: Practical or Politics?

In an effort to band the party together behind one platform for Iraq, the Democratic Party is beginning to unite over the “strategic deployment” plan issued by Lawrence J. Korb, Assistant Defense Secretary in the Reagan administration. The plan looks to have all troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007.

The plan indicates that all reservists and National Guard members would return home this year. Remaining troops would gradually be redeployed to Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Kuwait, where they would be formed into quick-strike groups to address a variety of threats around the various regions. Many Republicans, as well as some Democrats, indicate the nearly two-year timetable is unrealistic, and timetables should only be set by the military.

The Democratic Party has been marked by dissention over the war in Iraq. Many Democrats voted for the war initially, but have since changed their mind, and determined that we don’t belong in the war at this time. These democrats have wound up the victims of the Republican Sound Machine, the result being that many individual politicians have been unwilling to speak out against the war.

For example, Democratic Rep. John Murtha called for an immediate withdrawal of troops in November, calling for all troops to be out of Iraq within six months. Murtha is a Vietnam Vet, and generally hawkish, and it’s unusual for him to push back against US engagement in any war. But the Republican Sound Machine crucified Murtha for his statements

Representative Jean Schmidt, Republican of Ohio, delivered a blistering speech on the House floor aimed at Murtha, who spent 37 years in the Marine Corps: ''Cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said, in remarks she later withdrew from the Congressional Record. The attacks on Murtha demonstrated the political peril that could face Democrats who offer plans involving troop withdrawals.

With the mid-term elections approaching rapidly, the Democratic Party is trying to refute the claim that Dems, in general, want to cut and run from Iraq, and that they have no plan for maintaining the peace after withdrawal. The plan is supposed to refute that, and in my eyes looks like a better long-term plan than anything put forth from the Bush camp. Unfortunately, I question whether anyone has any desire to implement this plan.

The plan appears more geared towards solving the democratic image issue than the war in Iraq issue. By bending over backwards to make the plan significantly watered down to encompass the wide range of democratic opinions on Iraq and not incur the wrath of the Republicans. What they really need is to be focused on a plan for withdrawal from Iraq that makes the most sense, and coalescing bi-partisan support for the plan. There is sufficient support on both sides of the aisle for such a plan, but none is proposed.

20 days ago, Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing a T-shirt saying 2,242 Americans dead in Iraq. Today, 20 days later, the number has increased by 35, as 2,276 Americans are dead, with 2,479 coalition deaths in all. And this has actually been a light couple weeks of fighting in the region. But if this rate stayed the same, by the end of 2007, when the Democratic plan has us pulled out by, another 408 American lives will have been lost. 408!

And the plan is now being watered down even further, to set no specific deadline for the withdrawal of troops. I look at this proposal, and it looks intelligent to me, though it needs to be flushed out. But as the Democratic Party bends over backwards to protect their image, they appear to have lost the essence of the plan, and the positive goals that could be attained from it. We all know the Republican Spin Machine can be scary, but the Democrats need to grow a backbone and fight for the correct plan.

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Posted by Scottage at 10:36 PM / | |  

Halliburton Sold Nuclear Reactor Components to Iran

Halliburton is quickly living up to its reputation as the evil empire here at home. The fact that Cyrus Nasseri, former vice chairman of the board of directors for Oriental Oil Kish and a key negotiator for Iran with the IAEA, is being indicted for receiving $1M in bribes from Halliburton. NOW it has come out that in April of last year, well after Halliburton sold the company centrifuges and detonators specifically for use in Iran’s nuclear program. In May, Washington pushed Halliburton to conclude business with Oriental Oil Kish, but evidently this was too late.

In October, when this story was first released on Al-Jazeera, several members of Oriental Kish Oil had been arrested and were under questioning on charges of economic corruption for their dealings with Halliburton. The oil company has strong ties to the recently defeated Mullah party, probably resulting in their rebukes by the present government. Halliburton has had strong ties and business dealings with Iran since 1996, which means those dealings occurred for four years while Dick Cheney was CEO.

This issue was reported on Al-Jazeera, and has resurfaced now as some of the senior members of Oriental Oil Kish are going to trial. But I have never seen it run on the US press. The press is willing to attack Cheney mercilessly on a hunting accident, where he really only made a mistake, and will ignore the fact that his company started illegally traded with a “rogue” nation, and the business ties created during his tenure as CEO of Halliburton eventually resulted in the sale of the items Iran needed to create an atomic bomb? OK, reporters, time to get your eyes on the ball!

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Posted by Scottage at 12:59 PM / | |  

Amsterdam Holds New Type of Open House: Open Whore Houses

For the first time in history, the red light district in Amsterdam allowed visitors to go into the prostitution windows, if that’s what they’re called, in an effort to give tourists a glimpse of life from the perspective of workers in the world’s oldest profession, prostitution.

If you’ve never been to Amsterdam, the red light district sits on one of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals. Each building lining the canal has multiple windows, and inside each window will sit a woman (or man in some places), often bare-ing her (or his) assets to all passersby. When one of these passersby happens into one of the windows, the curtains are closed and the two people conduct business. As for the layout behind the curtain, well, you’ll have to ask someone else.

The CNN story talked about the prostitutes showing the world the glamorous side of the life, sitting in this window, looking out onto a street with millions of people streaming by, one of the best and most active cities in the world, and everyone in this side of town to look at you. And they suspect that the average person is going to look out that window and see the glamour in these people's lives.

Glamour in these peoples lives? Sure the tourists may see some glamour in it, looking out of that window, because they only have to look out that window. I don’t imagine that it looks nearly so glamorous when the shades are closed. And I can’t help but wonder if, while the industry itself might benefit from this new tourism ploy, if it isn’t pretty humiliating for the women. Of course, having never walked a mile in their shoes (or thongs, as the case may be), I can’t say for sure, but next time you’re there ask one for me.

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Posted by Scottage at 12:22 PM / | |  

Sunday, February 19, 2006

10 Greatest Dangers to the Western World

Last week, while writing about the Cheney incident, and my belief that too much time and ink had been devoted to it, I started noting in this blog and others the various other threats in the world today that I believe deserve more attention that an accidental shooting that should not have any long term effects on the victim. And thus a new topic was born: what are the greatest threats to the world today? Well, this has blossomed into a grander idea, which I am going to implement here!

So I determined to make a list of the 10 greatest threats in the world, each with a short blurb about the issue I see. Then, every week or two I will update the list, accounting for the ever-changing nature of our political situation and the new dangers facing the world. Plus, every couple of days or so I will create a post for one of the issues, which will include not only a more in-depth review of the issue, but also a link to the best articles I’ve read on the issue of late. I’m hoping that others will chime in with any posts that I may have missed.

It should be noted that what I consider the greatest dangers in the world today would vary greatly from the views on the same subject by other people. For example, I’m sure that someone from Israel would have a very different list from me. And if that list is vastly different from mine, imagine the list of a person from Iran. Or North Korea. Or Russia. Dangers are all relative to the environment of the commentator. Still, I’m sure many people from around the world will identify with the threats I list in this post.

So, without further ado, my list of the 10 greatest dangers to the West in the world today:

1) The growing divide between Islam and the Western world – The protests over the Mohammed cartoons are only a small indication of the growing rift between the Muslim community and the various communities of the Western world. Whether a wedge is purposefully being driven between these two peoples or whether the rift is a natural occurrence as a result of the cultural and ideological views of the two people is a matter of opinion, something to be debated, and will be covered when we look at the issue in more depth. But the divide is real, and it is growing. Should it continue to grow, the result will eventually be World war.

2) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad/Iran – In my mind, issues 1 and 2 are greatly linked, as Ahmadinejad is the individual most responsible for driving the wedge between Islam and the West, and as Iran is where he proves that he can compete with the Western world, thus pulling supporters behind him. Of course, that is only my view, but I think what is definitive to most people in the West is that Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program and the way he is toying with the IAEA presents a real danger to any sort of stability that the world could achieve. Add in Ahmadinejad’s desire to bring about the apolcolypse, and Iran presents a very real danger to the Western world.

3) Global warming – At the American Associate for the Advancement of Science meeting this past week, they announced that the melting of the icebergs in Southern Greenland had increased by 5x the estimates provided by global warming experts, and that the drastic decrease in surface temperature in the Northern hemispheres of the United States and Europe will be much sooner then expected, perhaps in the next 30-40 years. In the interim, storm sizes increase and become more turbulent as nature tries to equilibrate. Of course, this timeline may continue to decrease as we burn more fossile fuels, and this is only one effect of many associated with global warming. This may be the only danger that all people share.

4) Terrorism – Many people would rate this #1 or 2, but I see terrorism as a lesser threat than the previous posts because it doesn’t really threaten the same type of destruction as the previous issues; terrorism threatens to destroy our sense of security and our freedom, as opposed to threatening ultimate destruction. After my years in Israel, I have come to see terrorism as a psychological threat rather than a physical threat. Yes, terrorism can kill many people, but the bigger danger lies in the fear injected into the everyday actions that make up our lives. I could easily see terrorists being used as a weapon of one of the threats, but whether it’s a threat to our existence is something we can analyze together.

5) Nuclear North Korea – While the world focuses on the turbulence in the Middle East, North Korea moves closer and closer to becoming a nuclear power, a situation which would great disrupt the balance of power in the Pacific Rim. Particularly volatile in this case is China, who is in no hurry to have a nuclear neighbor, and worries that North Korea’s rise in power will have a serious impact on Hong Kong’s quest for sovereignty. Not to mention that North Korea’s motives remain largely a mystery and that they are no friend to the United States and most European countries, and you have a situation that could seriously threaten the Western way of life.

6) Israel/Palestine – Perhaps the most visible front of the conflict between Islam and the West. Had you asked me three months ago, I would have said that the both sides were inching, very slowly, towards peace. But today we are moving in the wrong direction. I took the election of Hamas as a desire to have a representative who could bargain for the Palestinian people from a position of power, while others took it as a symbol that Palestine was looking for a military solution instead of a diplomatic one. Unfortunately, we may never know the truth, as it appears likely that Israel and the US will never negotiate with Hamas to even determine their intentions.

7) Pakistan/India – If Israel and Palestine are the most visible front of the conflict between Islam and the West, Pakistan and India are the most combustible. Both countries are nuclear powers, and only their relative power to each other keeps the two countries in check. But that balance of power is shifting, flowing with the relative power of the Islamic world to the Western world. And because the balance of power does change so frequently, one can’t help but wonder if whatever storm is coming between these two cultures will begin between these two powers or end between these them.

8) Russia’s Insecure Weapons System – The fall of the Soviet empire left a vacuum in the power structure in Russia and the surrounding countries, which in many cases led to corruption in the governments of those countries. Organized crime holds much of the power in Russia today, and in nations surrounding Russia. This leaves the weapons of the ex-Soviet Union countries as potentially insecure or in the hands of crime-related organizations. The potential of enriched uranium being sold on the open market is but one of a number of scary scenarios involved with the rapid deterioration of the super-power.

9) Dilution of Freedom – The easiest way to destroy a society is to dilute the principles it stands for. It is for this reason that many think that Israel is doomed, as it had to abandon the religious principles which Israel was founded upon to survive. But more dangerous is that the US and Europe are now abandoning the basic principles which make a democracy worth fighting for. In the United States, we have seen Bush attack the Right to Privacy with the Patriot Act and Freedom of the Press as well as Freedom to Congregate Peacefully with the arrests of people protesting the war in Iraq. Now some countries in Europe, as well as the United States, as denounced the Freedom of the Press after protests began regarding the cartoons of Mohammed. Soon all our freedoms will be gone, and what will we have to believe in then.

10) You tell me – I could think of a ton of situations to fill in the 10th spot: The rise of facism, the rise of hate groups, the situation in Haiti, the spread of the Avian Flu, who knows what will be the next? Perhaps you do. Tell me what the next big conflict is; tell me what I have missed, and what I need to learn more about. And also tell me are the best posts you’ve read on these issues, so I can include them when I do write-ups. And who knows, maybe we can all come to a more balanced, globally sound perspective.

Oh, and as a side note, a few things that are not threats to world peace? Well definitely, Cheney’s accidental shooting of a friend is no threat to world peace, though it made for quite a few good laughs on Leno and throughout the blogosphere. Let’s leave it at that, though, shall we?

Halle Berry is not a threat to the Western World, but she may be a threat to the hearts and minds of men all around the world. (This, by the way, is homage to AbbaGav, who says that we must include sex in every one of our posts, in order to attract more viewers. Who, I might ask, would attract more viewers than Halle Berry?)

And the Olympics are no threat to the Western way of life, in fact it may honor it, or it may represent it. Either way, it’s a bunch of countries getting together to play some sports, and that you gotta love. I don’t watch it much, but I love it.

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