Maurizio – Omnologos

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Archive for June 2008

First, Fastest, Tallest, Fat- and Cancer-Free, Money and Sex News

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London, June 30 (MNN) – Breaking a new, safe, easy and fresh way forward for the blogosphere, Maurizio Morabito, the green, environmental author of the blog Omnologos, is revealing the tricks and secrets “to get some ink in the general audience media” and to help “put your release at the top of the search engines.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/30 at 22:41:00

Posted in Blogging, Business, Innovation

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BBC: All The Reasons for Growing Opium in Afghanistan

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Not to be missed this week’s BBC Radio4’s “File on 4”, available in MP3 format at this link.

Although there is little mention in the programme’s download page, and in a small accompanying article written for BBC News site, journalist author Kate Clark explains in detail how and why to cultivate opium in Afghanistan has been for some years an entirely logical decision, if not the only option in some areas at least.

As soon as I’ll have time I’ll write a summary of Clark’s findings, but in essence: if the opium guarantees a safe monetary income, with buyers visiting the producers rather than the produces being forced to go to the market, if travel market is risky both because of road conditions and corruption at all levels including the police, if the opium is a commodity that never rots away; if the eradication campaigns always hit only the small producer with no political connections, THEN it become obvious why Afghanistan dominates the world production of opium.

The UN can try to pick the last flower, and destroy the last seedling; and NATO can attempt to link Afghan opium to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden or even to children snatchers and old grandma’s torturers, for all one cares; still if there is no effort on eliminating the underlying reasons, fields of Papaver Somniferum will still call in the thousands… and rightly so!

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/30 at 01:06:11

Posted in Drugs, Politics

US Supreme Court’s Double Blow Against Death Penalty

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With a 5-to-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled yesterday June 25 against the capital punishment of child rapists.

Of course those rapists better spend a few decades in prison. But it is quite momentuous finally to hear affirmed in the USA the principle that the death penalty cannot be applied to crimes where victims have not died.

One may start wondering if, according to the Supreme Court, capital punishment is “just” a “State revenge”, a death to compensate another death. But we can leave that to a more appropriate time.: because the other important achievement in the majority’s opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint

Justice Kennedy has thus confirmed what already known to those fighting for the abolition of the death penalty: the very application of capital punishment means (running the risk of) brutalizing the entire legal system of the whole nation, including the professional executioners, the prosecutors arguing to terminate a human being’s life, and the judges and juries deciding to end that life.

Three “hoorays” for Justice Kennedy.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/26 at 21:07:36

Posted in Death Penalty, Politics, USA

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Bush: Right about the Surge?

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I usually appreciate David Brooks’ peculiar take on many subjects, but am not sure I follow his reasoning about the Surge (“Look at that surge…“, IHT, June 25).

Brooks tells us President Bush and VP Cheney have made the “right” decision when they increased the US presence in Iraq by 20,000 troops. That may be correct but…wouldn’t it be more meaningful to discuss why exactly they made the right decision?

As the saying goes, not even the astrologer can be wrong all of the time. Among the hundreds and hundreds of decisions made by the Bush admnistration over the course of more than seven years in office, surely some “have” to be “right”, whatever the astuteness and courage of the people in charge.

Does the fact that the Surge appears to have achieved “large, tenuous gains” help build up confidence for the remaining six months of President George W Bush? One wonders what Brooks would say about that…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/25 at 20:50:26

Posted in Iraq War, Politics, USA

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Nothing Justifies Tibetan Independence…

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… as much as the behavior of the Chinese government.

If I only could ask a single question to Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, it would be this: if Tibet really is part of China and not a colony, then why is China treating it as if it were a colony?

Forget the Dalai Lama’s “political” or non-political ambitions; forget also what Tibetans inside and outside Tibet think about independence, and the anti-Chinese propaganda occupying most international media.

Those topics are important but they do not explain, and they will never be able to explain the reason for decades of harsh crackdowns by the Beijing government about the “Tibetan issue”, despite the fact that it is blatantly obvious that only a “softer China” can hope to avoid being categorized as a “colonial empire” (a point recently made by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former UK Minister of Defence, in “A pragmatic solution“, International Herald Tribune, 24/3/2008 )

The Chinese government can write miles and miles of articles against the Dalai Lama; Chinese historians may yell at will in Universities, on television, on the radio describing in all minute details how Tibet and China were united as a single state entity since before the dawn of Humanity; gigabytes of photographs and video clips can be published all over the Internet with happy smiling Tibetans greeting the Olympic torch, all too grateful of Beijing’s efforts to improve their material welfare.

Still, little of that will have any value, because ‘the truth’ is evident not in words, not in laws, not even in studies and in pictures. To understand whether Tibet is a colony, and thus whether it is entitled to Independence (provided that’s the wish of its inhabitants), the only things of value are facts, and attitudes.

And countless facts and attitudes point in a single direction: Tibet indeed is a colony of China.

For a help in the details, look at Howard W French writing in the New York Times in March last year ( “In Tibetan areas, parallel worlds now collide“); at an Economist “leader” article of March 22 ( “Tibet: A Colonial Uprising“) ; at the op-ed by Patrick French, author of “Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land”, published in the New York Times under the title “He’s no politician“; and at the exceptional reportage of the Economist correspondent, “forgotten” in Lhasa exactly during this year’s riot days (“Thrashing the Beijing Road“):

  1. Fifty years have passed since Mao finally extended Beijing’s jurisdiction to Tibet. Yet, the only means to achieve “harmony” over there still seem to be firearms, and a heavy military presence
  2. When rioting broke out in Lhasa and other places in March this year, there was no immediate response by the authorities. With the local chief Zhang Qingli at that time in Beijing, this suggests that Zhang has centralized, without much thought for delegation, every possibility of a decision: and that’s precisely how a Viceroy govern his colony
  3. The Tibetans are treated as second-class citizens. Even if unofficially, the “system” still favours ethnic Chinese Han
  4. There are no Tibetans in command positions, in the military or in the bureaucracy or in the Party (structures well-known to be closed to strangers, and to colonized peoples)
  5. Thousands of Han Chinese are being encouraged to move to Tibet (if that is not “colonization” then what is?)
  6. Tibetans and non-Tibetans live in Tibet in virtually separate worlds
  7. Even very peaceful protests are virtually impossible
  8. There’s plenty of prejudice, and little trust among ethnic Han Chinese (the majority of Chinese in the world) and Tibetans, in Tibet. Few develop friendships across ethnic boundaries
  9. Chinese propaganda is crudely active, inculcating a series of “myths” such as the centuries-long “chineseness” of Tibet
  10. The “Father of Tibetan homeland,” the Dalai Lama, a symbol for all Tibetans anywhere in the world, is not just “unrevered” by the Chinese State: he is almost routinely the target for denigrations and insults. Described one day as “irrelevant”, and the following day as “capable of stirring up anti-Chinese sentiments” (and therefore not at all “irrelevant”)
  11. Do I need to mention the child Panchen Lama, “disappeared” by the Chinese government many years ago?
  12. And finally, there is the fact that the main thoroughfare in Lhasa has been renamed “Beijing Road”


If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then … it’s a duck.

Similarly, if China behaves in Tibet as an occupying / colonizing power, then of course Tibet is a colony, and not “part of China”…

It’s not just that: the behavior of the Government in Beijing recalls in many ways the worst years of Stalin and Mao, as pointed out by Vaclav Havel, Frederik Willem de Klerk, and other eminent personalities in an open letter published on the New York Review of Books on 1 May 2008: “Tibet: The Peace of the Graveyard“.

Someone should tell Hu Jintao: what’s happening is no sign of strength and maturity, but rather of weakness and the inability to resolve a decade-long conflict. Behaving like a colonial power, China certainly cannot bring about any lasting solution of the “Tibetan issue”, let alone a generalized “state of harmony”.

The most it can do, is push Tibet towards full independence.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/24 at 22:51:36

Posted in Asia, Politics, Tibet

One for the Celtics

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Normally I’d side with the LA Lakers but tonight it’s high time that “Paul Pierce et al.” win the NBA title. There’s no super superstar among the Boston Celtics but they are a team, not just a series of Kobe Bryant extensions…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/17 at 22:00:17

The Moon, and the Volcano

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Click here for beautiful pictures of the Moon setting behind active volcano Mt Etna in Sicily

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/17 at 21:53:52

Posted in Italy, Moon

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Kosovo: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys?

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Letter to the International Herald Tribune

Dear Editors, dear Ms. Dempsey

Can anybody seriously describe the ongoing Kosovo crisis as a good-guys vs. bad-guys conflict, as attempted in Ms. Dempsey’s “Letter from Europe“, June 11, 2008, published on the IHT as “Deadlock in Kosovo risks Balkan instability“?

The articles is a relentless attack on everything Russia and Serbia have to say about Kosovo, with the EU depicted as the poor victim of a machination intending to deprive Kosovo of true independence, by keeping the UN around.

We are even treated to the classic “It is not for lack of trying by the Europeans or the United States to reach an agreement with Russia over Kosovo“, about the aborted Ahtisaari Plan.

Well, Ms Dempsey is well aware and even describes in the article the situation in Northern Mitrovica: could she please then try to explain on what basis would the Ahtisaari Plan free Albanian Kosovars from Belgrade’s rule, while effectively imprisoning the Mitrovican Serbs under Pristina’s?

Neither the EU nor the USA have shown much interest in upholding the rights of the minority Serbs in Kosovo, all too focused in promoting the rights of the minority Albanians in Serbia. This is no recipe for a lasting and peaceful settlement, with or without Russia: and in fact to this day there is no lasting peaceful settlement in sight.

It is also too easy for Ms Dempsey to push aside the legality question. It is not just a matter of Vladimir Putin “claiming that Kosovo’s independence had no international legal basis“. In fact, like Ms Dempsey, also the EU, the USA and legions of international legal experts still have not found any legal basis for Kosovo’s independence.

The best they could come up with, it’s a “sui generis” clause, hoping that all problems will evaporate if everybody agrees that Kosovo’s is a case unique in history, never to be repeated again.

That’s no legal explanation for bypassing the United Nations in order to create a new State in Europe.

Does anybody believe the situation is better today than before “independence” came to Kosovo, with the EU’s “undermined security ambitions” also thanks to its deep divisions on the topic, as correctly pointed out by Ms. Dempsey?

Are we any better down the path of Balkan stability, a “region where the slightest misunderstanding or provocation can lead to violence“? I for one am not sure about that. But if we want to be serious at dealing with this problem, that’s not just a question for Russia to answer.

maurizio morabito

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/16 at 22:46:05

How to Avoid Being Cheated on Widescreen TV Sizes

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It is rather unfortunate that the widescreen TV industry has decided to go down the route of an almost outright cheating of their customers, by marketing TV sets around their diagonal size.

Fact (1): Widescreen TVs aspect (ratio between width and height) is 16:9 , “normal” TVs’s 4:3. That is, a widescreen TV of the same height of a “normal” TV, is also considerably wider.

Fact (2): Apart from dodgy movies and panoramic documentaries, most TV broadcasts picture objects standing vertically, eg people walking or talking to each other. Even Italian footballers are shown standing on their feet, most of the time. Therefore, the height of the image is very important in the enjoyment of a TV show.

The above means that anybody buying a 28″ widescreen TV to substitute a 28″ “normal” one, is in for a nasty surprise: the new TV set will be shorter in height, and therefore all the objects on the screen will be smaller.

This may explain a generic sense of disappointment when looking at “small” sets in TV shops, with rather minute screens sporting unbelievable sizes of 19″ or 20″…


Some quick maths can provide guidance: it turns out that to keep the same height, a widescreen TV set’s diagonal size must be around 1.22 times larger than a “normal” one.

So if you want to replace a 28″ TV, don’t ever go for anything less than a 35″ widescreen; a 14″ set, buy a 18″ widescreen or larger; a 32″ “normal” TV, substitute with a 40″ widescreen at least.

Ah…and if you are dreaming of the 42″ widescreen TV sets I can tell you from experience…after two weeks, it will look as small as the old one.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/15 at 23:19:14

Posted in Technology

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Quantitative Effects of Sichuan Earthquake on Tibet Reporting

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The Sichuan quake has partially removed Tibet from the news, in a quantitatively quite relevant way.

Articles on Tibet in the New York Times archives:

From 1/Jan/8 to 14/Jun/8: 295 articles (1.79/day)

1/Jan-10/Mar (the day before the Tibetan riots): 31 (0.45/day)

11/Mar-11/May (the day before the Sichuan quake): 212 (3.48/day)

12/May-14/Jun: 52 (1.58/day, that is 55% fewer)

More numbers for those thinking the above is just what happens with “old news”:

11/Mar-11/Apr: 126 (4.06/day)
12/Apr-11/May: 87 (3/day)

So it is true: the quake has halved the news reporting from Tibet, from one day to the next.

World attention on Tibet is in the meanwhile decreasing. During June, there has been just 1.49 articles/day on Tibet.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/15 at 22:48:50

Posted in China, Politics, Tibet

“Everybody’s got too much of something”

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A poignant advert campaign is circulating in France, thanks to employment agency ADIA, against all sorts of discriminations: “Urgent: let’s recruit humans“.

One of the messages really gets down to the point, and it is applicable also outside of work matters:

“Too black,
too old,
too educated,
too brown,
too atheist,
too young,
too female,
too gay,
too white,
too Muslim,
too political,
too disabled,
too heterosexual,
too Jewish,
Too this,
too that…
Really, looking hard enough, everybody’s got too much of something.
To discriminate, is to begin to dehumanize. […]” […]”

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/14 at 12:46:13

Posted in Ethics

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Too Weak and Confused, the Unbearably Light Political Thinking of “Islamic Jihad”

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This is a commentary to the interview given by Ramadan Shallah, Secretary General of “Islamic Jihad”, to the newspapers Watan (Oman) and Sharq (Qatar), on 19 May 2008.

The complete interview (translated into French) is available at the CIREPAL (Centre d’Information sur la Résistance en Palestine, Information Center on Resistance in Palestine). Unfortunately I have been unable to find other sources, and so I will have to trust that translation as true.

Note that the CIREPAL itself, in the preface to the translation, doesn’t fully endorse Shallah’s arguments, a mixture of terrible and desperate considerations, ironically appearing more than once as mirroring what Shallah accuses Israel of doing.

Does Shallah see himself in the Jewish State. One wonders: what if the modern Jihadism is actually not the enemy, rather a descendant of Zionism?


R. Shallah : A notre avis, concernant la vision israélienne relative à l’existence de l’entité israélienne dans la région, nous pouvons distinguer trois étapes essentielles : la première est celle du refus absolu d’Israël, où le conflit était dénommé conflit arabo-israélien. Cette étape fut caractérisée par l’unanimité de la nation à refuser l’existence d’Israël, malgré les failles […]

Here Shallah is realistically describing the situation. However, he’s considering the “Arab Nation” as one, despite all the history behind that concept. Later, he will add non-Arab Iran to the mix.

Mais il y a aussi une autre étape…celle de l’admission d’Israël volontairement…comme un Etat normal, voisin, ami, comme tout autre pays arabe ou musulman […] le projet de règlement dont il a rêvé pour parvenir à la troisième étape […] l’étape du refus absolu d’Israël. […] l’entité sioniste a reçu des coups douloureux lors de la victoire de la résistance au Liban en 2000, le déclenchement de l’intifada al-Aqsa en 2000 et la défaite cuisante lors de la guerre de juilllet 2006, au Liban […]

First hints of Ramadan Shallah being victim of his own ideology. It is true that Israel has not won in Lebanon in 2006, and its army should not be proud of its results…however, there has been no defeat, and Israel is as powerful as before.

Le sentiment d’être étranger dans la région et la peur de l’avenir rendent Israël incapable de payer le moindre prix pour la paix à laquelle les Arabes ont appelé par le biais de l’initiative arabe. […]

Perhaps…but he said before, did he not, that Israel is ready to “pay the price” in order to become a “Normal State” in the region…

réaliser un alliance américano-israélo-arabe pour faire face aux forces de la résistance et du refus, représentées par l’Iran, la Syrie, le Hezbollah, Hamas, le Jihad islamique et les autres organisations de la résistance en Palestine […]

Shallah is kind of losing the plot here, mixing in Iran and Hizbullah. And let’s not forget that Syria’s policies are not automatically in favor of the Palestinians.

En résumé, nous pouvons dire qu’Israël, soixante ans après sa création, se prépare à mener de nouvelles guerres, non à faire la paix. […]

This is a gratuitous statement, with no evidence to support it apart from the “logic” of Shallah’s ideology. And it’s way too vague to be useful: it doesn’t take a genius, a clairvoyant, or a politician to guess that Israel will fight a war in the next few years.

le projet sioniste, qui est un projet de déni de l’autre, qui a fondé son entité d’une part sur des mythes, et de l’autre, sur le feu, le fer et le sang, la violence et la terreur. […]

I don’t want to argue if this is or is not a realistic assessment of Zionism…still, it is interesting to note that this “denying the other” built upon myth, conflict, terror is a fundamental aspect of Ramadan Shallah’s political thinking: as if by his own definition, Shallah were somehow Zionist-like.

Israël refuse la paix, comme l’a prouvé l’expérience. Il a refusé tous les projets de règlement malgré leur bas niveau et les concessions obtenues. […]

This is rather unclear. Shallah is convinced that Israel refuses all peace offers, even the ones most favorable to itself. Why would it behave like that? What further advantages are for Israel in avoiding peace?

Is anybody arguing that Israel’s strategical objectives are the same as the Islamic Jihad’s?

il est devenu clair que « l’Etat palestinien » supposé dont ils parlent est « l’Etat des intérêts sionistes » […]

Would Ramadan Shallah then expect to see Israeli negotiators argue in favor of Palestinian interests?

L’image du Super Israël, implanté dans la terre comme si cela était un décret divin auquel nul ne peut s’opposer, dans l’esprit de ceux qui en ont peur, de lui et des Etats-Unis […]

Once again, the ironical situation of the “Zionist thinking” mirrored in Ramadan Shallah’s: the head of an organization called “Islamic Jihad” and therefore likely to be an expert in “divine decrees”.

il ne nie pas être entré dans la phase de vieillesse, dont les signes apparaissent dans les défaites, même limitées, qu’il a subi au Liban et en Palestine […]

Another sign of Shallah losing his grip with reality. Instead of finding a way to strengthen his position, he’s hoping Israel will get somehow weaker in the future. The end result is that Shallah is politically a dependent of Israel…

Goldberg dans une série d’articles, disant : « je suis inquiet sur l’avenir d’Israël au cours des dix ou quinze prochaines années » […]

Are these signs of decline?? Somehow I doubt Ramadan Shallah sia is used to follow a democratic society’s inner debate.

« Pour Israël, la confiance en la possibilité de demeurer est devenue très mince » ! […]

One doesn’t have to be too smart to imagine taking advantage of these “signs of weakness”, for example establishing contacts with non-Zionist Israelis…alas, there is no trace of that.

Le puissant Israël, qui possède la plus forte armée dans la région, y compris les armes nucléaires, a perdu et a été humilié au cours de la guerre de juillet/août 2006 face à la résistance des combattants du Hizbullah et de la résistance islamique. […]

This is beyond imagination. An Israel going from the Nile to the Euphrates. Is Ramadan Shallah a Zionist through and through???

After all, if he wants to live in a fantasy world, who would and could stop him?

Israël aujourd’hui n’est plus celui de Ben Gourion, de Dayan, de Rabin et des autres, mais c’est un Israël qui n’a pas de dirigeants politiques et militaires. Certains ont affirmé que Sharon fut le dernier roi d’Israël, et après lui, le pays est tombé… […]

Does that mean it would have been possible to deal and negotiati, with the young Israel of 1948?

Si l’armée israélienne a perdu son prestige, que reste-t-il d’Israël ? Nous savons qu’Israël est une caserne militaire, un Etat militaire dans son organisation et sa vie, l’armée est la population, et la population est l’armée […]

In the meanwhile, on the other (Palestinian) side, everybody’s an angel…

Cet unipolarisme est cependant en train de craquer et les rapports de force changeront ; le rêve de l’empire américain, après son échec et sa défaite en Iraq, […]

Now Shallah is portraying himself as dependent from America: as all his actions will only be reaction to the USA’s.

Le refus absolu de sa présence se développe de pair avec le développement des courants islamistes, des mouvements de la résistance islamique en Palestine, au Liban et en Iraq, et du soutien dont ils bénéficient dans la région. […]

Another parallel with Zionism…it’s just one religious point of view built in front of another.

Pour nous, Israël subira le même sort subi par toutes les entités étrangères implantées par les guerres des Francs, les croisés, dans nos pays et il disparaîtra comme elles ont disparu. […]

This is an important myth. The Latin Kingdoms in the Holy Land lasted 200 years after the First Crusade. Israele has been around only 60 years. Perhaps another century and a half will be needed, before some will consider the possibility that Israel will not disappear.

En d’autres termes, si la nature du pouvoir en Israël était dictatorial ou fasciste, est-ce que cela change notre vision, nous, les Arabes et les musulmans ? Et à l’intérieur du système démocratique lui-même, quelle est la différence pour nous si arrive à la tête du pouvoir Olmert, Barak ou Netanyahu ? Ceux qui ont parié sur l’arrivée de Barak après Netanyahu ont récolté l’amertume de l’effondrement des négociations de Camp David II […]

And so…if Barak had agreed in Camp David II, and Arafat had agreed too, would that have satisfied Ramadan Shallah? And if all Israelis are the same (an idea dangerously close to racism), why waste any time, a few minutes before, citing a crisis within Israel?

Est-ce que la démocratie à l’intérieur peut-elle coexister avec un esprit expansionniste et belliqueux envers l’extérieur, qu’Israël met en pratique depuis sa fondation? […]

Finally, a good question…can internal democracy survive alongside external expansionism/colonialism?

Israël est-il conforme à la manière occidentale et coloniale pratiquée par les Etats occidentaux coloniaux, […]

It must be noted that relatively democratic United Kingdom had no trouble in becoming the largest colonial Empire in the history of the world.

Israël est-il un Etat pour tous ses citoyens ou un Etat pour les citoyens juifs seulement ? En d’autres termes, Israël est-il réellement un Etat « démocratique » ou un Etat «religieux » ? […]

Is Israel democratic, or democratic to the Jews only? A very interesting question. Rabin’s assassination shows how much there is to “sort out” within Israel. But that doesn’t mean the Jewish State is going to end anytime soon.

After all, even the USA survived a fully-fledged Civil War.

les Etats-Unis, dans leur comportement avec les autres, considèrent que leurs propres intérêts constituent le premier critère pour formuler leur politique… […]

Here Ramadan Shallah is right. Way too often the USA (and others) have supported internationally only their interests, and not democracy. But once again, this shows how it is possible to be democratic at home, and despotic abroad, without self-destroying oneself?

Finalement, il est probable que la démocratie permet à l’entité israélienne d’avoir un mécanisme meilleur pour la passation du pouvoir et l’administration de son conflit dans la région… […]

Finally, he’s recognizing Israel can be stronger than previously described.

que si Israël et les Etats-Unis ont accepté la solution de deux Etats, avec les conditions israéliennes évidemment, c’est par crainte d’arriver à l’Etat unique, surtout que l’équilibre démographique en Palestine sera bientôt favorable aux Palestiniens, certainement et clairement, à partir de 2010, selon certaines estimations. […]

It doesn’t take much to agree with Shallah here. The two-state solution is feasible but rather artificial.

D’abord, elle accorde à Israël et aux Juifs la légitimité de leur présence sur la terre de la Palestine, légitimité qu’ils n’ont pas. La nation a lutté, dès le début, sur la base de l’illégitimité de la présence sioniste en Palestine. […]

As I mentioned already, some people will cling on to this dream for another century and a half.

propager cette alternative supprime la culture de la lutte et de la résistance, et propage la culture de la soumission au fait accompli et à se préparer à vivre avec Israël, au moment où Israël refuse cette question […]

As above

notre terre et notre patrie la Palestine deviennent une seconde Andalousie, où Israël se consolide sur ses ruines en tant qu’Etat stable et sûr, en n’ayant pour d’autre but ou espoir que le fait d’y être acceptés, en tant que sujets, même de dixième zone ! […]

Wasn’t Israel senile and in crisis?

je ne pense pas que la laïcité peut régler ce conflit saturé de symboles religieux, des deux côtés… […] Le bagage religieux constitue, pour les deux parties, une force de mobilisation importante dans le conflit, du côté […]

Is he implying that Israelis and Palestinians are very similar? Why then continue the conflict?

Que fait la laïcité de l’Etat unique avec l’arabité et l’islamité de la Palestine dans les cœurs et les consciences arabes et islamiques ? Comment se débarrasse-t- elle de « la judaïté » de l’Etat dans la conscience israélienne et le projet sioniste ? […]

This looks like a good argument in favor of the two-state solution, Poor Shallah!

La solution est, à notre avis, de poursuivre le conflit, même par les moyens les plus simples, jusqu’à relever la nation et modifier le rapport de force.. […]

Sounds like a sad joke. “Since the wall hasn’t budged despite all our headbanging against it, let’s keep banging our heads“…

que nos enfants ont lapidé Israël avec des pierres et le châtiment de la lapidation, dans notre culture et notre loi, est réservé à l’adultère. Israël est, aux yeux des peuples de la région, celui qui a commis l’adultère envers notre géographie, notre histoire et il mérite la lapidation et le châtiment jusqu’à la mort et la disparition de la carte de la région, pour que la Palestine revienne dans la géographie et l’histoire. […]

Little wonder Israel finds it necessary to have nuclear weapons…

Je ne pense pas que les Etats-Unis, dans les conditions régionales et internationales actuelles, puissent être autrement que dans le rang israélien et je doute qu’ils puissent l’être dans tous les cas, […]

hence, no contacts with the USA either. Even if “victory” depends on Washington.

Israël est presque le 51ème Etat américain au Moyen-Orient. […]

I do not think this is too far from truth. And so Shallah further undermines any idea of a “Israeli crisis”.

le régime arabe, dans sa majorité, se pose lui-même dans le panier américain et constitue avec lui une alliance et un partenariat dans la région, dont la principale priorité consiste à protéger l’existence et la sécurité d’Israël. […]

Just in case he had too many friends, Shallah has called “Zionist” all the Arab states apart maybe from Syria (an Arabicized, more than an Arab country).

Il n’y a pas, malheureusement, de stratégie palestinienne ou arabe pour affronter Israël […]

Nice for him to notice that but…where has he been all these years?

positions, nous devons d’abord parler de la stratégie israélienne en cette étape… […]

For the umpteenth time, Shallah shows no ability to act, only to react. Every thought is subordinated to Israel’s.

Celui qui souhaite faire la paix ne doit pas laisser tomber le choix de la guerre, mais doit s’y préparer, comme le fait Israël ! […]

That’s why I think that somewhere, perhaps in the unconscious, Shallah is an admirer of Israel.

La stratégie américano-sioniste est un projet colonial pour faire exploser la région… La liquidation des forces […]

This make no sense…why let a region explode if you want to occupy it?

que le déluge est prochain, le moment de vérité et l’explosion de la région sont prochains. Celui qui conscience arabe. C’est le premier pas réclamé pour formuler une stratégie arabe et palestinienne officielles […]

As always, Shallah is hoping Israel would be do something so badly, the “resistance” would be capable to win. Shallah’s future is absolutely in the hands of Israel.

L’essentiel au début est de définir où poser les pieds, tu es avec ton peuple et ta nation ou avec ses ennemis ? C’est la question posée et qui attend la réponse de toutes les parties dans le régime arabe, aujourd’hui. […]

Let’s try to summarize it all then: “who knows, I don’t know what I should be doing, let’s hope Israel gives us some hints“…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/13 at 21:16:52

BBC Website Humiliating Dwarfs (Again)

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UPDATE #2: Received e-mail from the BBC confirming they have changed the text as “an inanimate lump of rock cannot really be said to be humiliated”. On my part, I do not think there was any “bad” intention. Just a poor choice (mix) of words

UPDATE: No word from the BBC yet but the article has been retitled “‘Non-planet’ Pluto gets new class” and its overall tone much changed, addressing 95% of my concerns. There could still be the possibility to argue for more, but frankly it would be pointless and pedantic.
Thank you, whoever did the changes at the BBC

Complaint sent to the BBC website today:

In the article “Humiliated Pluto gets new classyou explicitly associate the word “dwarf” to “humiliation“, “demotion” and “relegation.

I am not saying we should all be “politically correct” all of the time, but the article’s author could have just said that Pluto had been reclassified as “dwarf planet“, with no reference to “humiliation“, “demotion” and “relegation“, WITHOUT losing ANY information.

Who would say that to be a dwarf is to have a lesser dignity?

Conversely, you could try answering this question: why did you feel compelled to use the words “humiliation“, “demotion” and “relegation“?

Imagine if cars were sorted by colour, and somebody wrote of them being “demoted to black” after being repainted!!

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/12 at 09:52:55

Posted in BBC, Ethics, Pluto

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Pro-Tibet or Anti-China? The Sign of the Dead

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If it is true that solidarity to the Chinese Government regarding the Sichuan earthquake cannot be used as an excuse to forget the repression in Tibet, it is also true that many “pro-Tibet” demonstrations are nothing to be proud of, as they disregard the recent, enormous disaster in the Sichuan region.

I hope nobody believes that natural disasters have no political consequences.

Simply, in the absence of the slightest effort to understand what is happening in China, the risk is to become broken records, absolute strangers to the reality on the ground. Is it really that difficult to add to “pro-Tibet” events something like a candle in memory of all those deaths?

And no, I am not suggesting to organize funeral vigills. I only wish that when people talk about Tibet and China, a corner of the event would be dedicated to the “earthquake dead”. Missing that, there is little chance (and, may I dare say, little right) to lecture the Chinese Govenment on Tibetan or other matters.


I have put the questions above to various people but received very few answers so far. I have the uncomfortable feeling that at the end of the day, few or none really care about “real Tibet”, as few or none are interested in understanding the political and social consequences of the 2008 earthquake in China.

They who can turn their eyes away from 70,000 dead, 370,000 injured and 17,000 missing people, they can turn their eyes away from anything.

Instead of flying Tibetan standards, perhaps it would be more honest if “pro-Tibet” demonstrators burned Chinese flags.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/11 at 21:39:16

Posted in China, Politics, Tibet

Parallels between Lysenkoism and AGW

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(originally published in my climate blog “The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE“)

Timely broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” series, about Lysenko and “lysenkoism”, the propaganda-based “science” that Stalin’s agricultural adviser managed to sell as “truth” from 1928 to 1962 at least.

In 1928, as America heads towards the Wall Street Crash, Joseph Stalin reveals his master plan – nature is to be conquered by science, Russia to be made brutally, glitteringly modern and the world transformed by communist endeavour.

Into the heart of this vision stepped Trofim Lysenko, a self-taught geneticist who promised to turn Russian wasteland into a grain-laden Garden of Eden.

Today, Lysenko is a byword for fraud but in Stalin’s Russia his ideas became law. They reveal a world of science distorted by ideology, where ideas were literally a matter of life and death. To disagree with Lysenko risked the gulag and yet he damaged, perhaps irreparably, the Soviet Union’s capacity to fight and win the Cold War.

The MP3 of the programme can be downloaded here.

What makes it relevant to the climate debate is the list of parallels that can be made between Lysenko’s “Soviet biology and genetics” and contemporaneous thoughts of Anthropogenic Global Warming:

(a) Results, and success are declared before an experiment has completed (at position 12m10s, in the mp3 file above). In AGW, just look at the innumerable papers that take AGW as established truth, even as the debate on “attribution” is still very much open among mainstream scientists.

(b) Proponents always declare “victory”, no matter what happens, and are always ready to shift the ground (mp3 position: 14m15s). That’s quite common in AGW circles: nowadays, if the planet warms up or cools down, it’s anyway compatible with AGW theory.

(c) Science is presented as a series of “solutions”, not simply as “knowledge” (mp3 position: 19m45s). AGWers cannot disentangle research from advocacy: for example, the IPCC is politically active, to the point of qualifying for a Nobel Peace Prize.

(d) According to the scientists, central planning is better than free capitalism (mp3 position: 35m45s). From Al Gore to London School of Economics’ Professor Lord Giddens, there is only one thought: free markets are not good enough, and a big State intervention is needed to save the planet from climate doom.

Ironically, the BBC guests laughed only up to a point to the witty remark made by one of them: that Lysenko’s personality and attitude would have made him a “guaranteed success in British science today” (mp3: 24m15s).

Even more ironic is the fact that Lysenko himself did come up with a geoengineering way to change the climate of Siberia (by planting trees in clusters, so that the weakest ones would sacrifice themselves to let the most resistant plants survive).

And in case you wonder: no, it didn’t work…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/08 at 21:55:15

Iran and the Rationality of the First Nuclear War

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Iran is right in trying to develop the Bomb: what else they should do, when violent foreign-sponsored political upheavals in Tehran appear in the news twice a month if not more often? (An example in Italian and another in English).

People like Michael Leeden are so preoccupied of the “Iran Bomb”, they are trying their best to make it explode.

What if they’d focus their minds not on the 1930’s and Hitler, rather on 1914, and on how a climate of distrust plus a longing for a resolutive war led many nations in a war with millions of dead (including European civilization).

How “enticing” (not!) will it be when Tehran or Tel Aviv will be pulverised, a few atom bombs will go off in other places, and then fifty or more years later flocks of scholars will be able to build their careers in the attempt of explaining how, even if all the “actors” in the crisis behaved rationally, the end result was the most gigantic idiocy in the history of the world, the First Nuclear War.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/07 at 21:57:49

Obama’s True “Dream Ticket”

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How can Barack Obama win back the core Hillary Clinton voters, namely hispanics, women and “white men without a college education”?

It’s easy, because the question contains its own answer: just select as candidate VP a hispanic woman able to elicit interest among white men of whatever schooling.

If Obama wants a “Dream Ticket”, his dilemma is therefore quite simple…

Salma Hayek, or Eva Longoria?

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/06 at 11:15:52

Palestinian Politicide – aka Israeli Suicide

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(a previous version of this blog “Sad Word of the Day: ‘Politicide’” was published first on Sep 4, 2003)

It was almost five years ago when cruising through a Books etc bookshop I finally found a word I had been looking to invent myself for quite some time.

In fact, on the one hand I know from several first-hand sources, plus plenty of newspaper reports and analyses, of the systematic destruction of the Palestinian identity by Israeli policies. On the other hand, I do not think this can be described as a “Palestinian Genocide“.

Unless there is a massive media cover-up including, the situation in Palestine simply does not reflect the common definition of Genocide. For example, there is no killing of Palestinian people for the mere fact of them being Palestinians. The risk is that to talk about a “Palestinian Genocide” means to demean both the victims of genocide (a word that would be watered down), and the Palestinians (whose situation would be completely misunderstood, with the cause fought not even theirs)

Politicide” is the right word instead: that is, the destruction of the political identity of a group of people .

The word “politicide” of course comes from what looks like a long tirade against Ariel Sharon, published by Baruck Kimmerling as a book. It is originally defined

[…] a process that has, as its ultimate goal, the dissolution—or, at the very least, a great weakening—of the Palestinian people’s existence as a legitimate social, political, and economic entity […]

Kimmerling, who has died in 2007, was by the way a complex figure if there ever was any: a self-proclaimed Zionist with leftist views, critical of Israeli policies and outspoken in considering Jewish settlements in the West Bank as colonialism).

Kimmerling’s book has been reviewed and criticized a lot, of course. But in the case of the Palestinians, “politicide” does explain many an action by current and past Israeli governments, including the cancellation from history of Palestinian villages, the delegitimisation of Palestinian institutions, the demeaning treatment of migrant workers, and so on (I understand the dividing wall has been painted in places to make Palestinians literally disappear from view).

Importantly, the concept of “politicide” as defined above is not limited to a war, or even a crisis situation. It has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist, or its internal political system. And it harms both the victim and the perpetrator.

In fact, as commented by Jonathan Freedland on The New York Review of Books on Dec 21, 2006 (my emphasis):

[…] [Sharon] saw desperately late the threat that his pursuit of the settlement project posed to the very Jewish state he had devoted his life to protecting. Even putting aside the morally corrosive effect of occupation on the occupier, Sharon understood only at the end the problem represented by Israel ruling over a territory that would eventually contain equal numbers of Jews and Arabs. Either the state would be democratic and no longer Jewish or it would have to become what Kimmerling calls a Herrenvolk democracy, an apartheid term used to describe a regime in which citizens enjoy full rights while noncitizens enjoy none. Sharon apparently did not see the simple demographic realities until his final years in office […]

As he prepared to tell the Likud central committee in September 2005, before his opponents cut off his microphone and prevented him from speaking: “We cannot maintain a Jewish and democratic state while holding on to all the land of Israel. If we demand the whole dream, we may end up with nothing at all. That is where the extreme path leads.” […] 

As things stand at the moment, Israel does not look sustainable at all: even if there were a complete military victory tomorrow, with Hamas and Hizbullah routed out into the Arabian desert and Fatah reduced to the rank of a puppet government, there would be a painful choice to be made between transforming Jewishness into apartheid, or embracing full democracy by losing its identity to include hundreds of thousands of people with no social, political and economical identity.

And a non-Jewish or a non-democratic Israel would be no Israel any longer.

(for the record, I do believe in the continuous existence to this day of a clear-and-present-danger of Genocide (and I mean it!) against the Israeli population)

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/05 at 22:48:08

Getting Rid of Poison Billary

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What is Barack Obama supposed to do now that there is little sign that Hillary Clinton will openly “concede” without being offered the Vice-Presidency, to the point of organizing “No-bama” chants at a very public appearance?

How can he get rid of the lady, and of her big-mouthed, inconvenient, gaffe-prone, press-hated, reputation-tearing, ladies’ favorite anger-bag of a husband?

For were Obama to accept Ms Rodham as his VP candidate, he would appear weak, unable to stand on his own, way too ready to compromise with somebody that after all he has been unable to shrug off. If instead, all the purring from the Clinton campaign about her readiness to have a shot as VP were ignored or rebuffed, then Obama would appear weak, cast adrift among college-educated Americans with not a single Latino or poor White in sight.

(Perhaps up to 27% of Democrats do not want to vote for Obama…isnt’ there a saying about the mother of the idiots being always pregnant?)

All this campaigning by Hillary and Bill Clinton has then turned the couple into a “poison pill”, the best thing that happened to McCain since Giuliani started excelling at foot-shooting practice. As things stand now, Hillary Clinton is indispensible, and the Democratic Party cannot go anywhere she doesn’t like it to go.

But in her latest moment of glory, there are also all the reasons to make her irrelevant.


It is good practice in people management to identify the resources that one “cannot do without”…in order to get rid of them.

Anybody able to maneuver themselves into an “indispensable” position is in fact too loose a center of power, a practical nuisance for everybody around, a threat for the cohesion of the group and an inordinate risk were the person to move to a different job or disappear from view for any reason (eg due yet another sex scandal involving Mr C).

And one should not disregard the possibility of a leadership challenge at every single minute that passes

(I am sure Hillary Clinton is dreaming of the Party delegates begging her in Denver this coming August,to become the Presidential Candidate by acclamation. Can’t anybody find a picture of Obama with a prostitute, a lover, a wad of dirty cash, cocaine on his nose? Shaking hands with OJ Simpson? Praying at a mosque? Having dinner with Iran’s Ahmadinejad? Anything would do…)

That’s why if anybody is indispensable, they must be dispensed with asap, instead of letting things hang by a thread, with a possible major unmanageable crisis looming every day in an atmosphere of mutual distrust and weak leadership,

(How to get rid of somebody that one cannot ged rid of? By definition, it may look impossible. But that’s really never the case: US society would not collapse were Hillary Clinton to become a hermit tomorrow. If one is “indispensable”, dispensing of them will be painful, but a group exercise, that will inspire the best effort of the rest of the team)


Obama can free himself from Billary by choosing one of three options: (a) going hard, immediately nominating somebody else as VP candidate; (b) going safe, doing nothing in the hope few will care about an also-ran with no hope to be anybody; (c) going soft, openly leaving all possibilities open, just in case, with no actual intention of choosing Hillary for the Vice-Presidency.

The choice is a matter of long-term political strategy. It can be argued that (a) is a sign of weakness, but the sooner the tooth is pulled out, the sooner the pain will go (and the more time there will be for campaigning against McCain). Option (b) needs plenty of nerve and plenty of friends in the media. Option (c) is an absolute gamble, and only the strongest and most determined candidate should think about it.

Options b and c assume that the Clintons will make a nuisance of themselves, with Bill growling too much, and Hillary squeaking too often, so that among the general nausea only their staunchest supporters will remain loyal. And so on and so forth.

(Personally I would choose option b but only after preparing a massive media campaign, in order to bury any Clinton news item by sheer force of numbers)


Obviously, the above presumes Obama can show enough toughness (and callousness) so as to be his own antidote against Poison Billary. That’s something still open to question, a fact that in itself may be a symptom of the same inability to find that single final political punch that could have stopped all this Democrat squabbling long time ago.

Barack Obama can still choose Hillary Clinton as VP Candidate. But if that happens, nobody should kid themselves by talking of an “Obama Presidency”.

At the White House, the one with the trousers wouldn’t be the current junior Senator from Illinois.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/04 at 10:23:17

The End of Genetics’ Golden Age

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Once upon a time people believed everything associated to living things was the combination of something called “nature” and something else called “nurture”: the former, as written in the “living thing”‘s genes, and the latter, the effect of everything that was external to the “living thing”.

Whole areas of research were based on that assumption: including lots of identical-but-separated-twin studies. Since identical twins have the same genetic code, it was argued, everything that would happen to both even if they had been separated shortly after birth would clearly be caused by “nature” (i.e., the genes).

Well, we now know for sure that the above is an incorrect simplification. It’s all clear from this picture:

Those are E.coli bacteria that are genetically identical. They have even been born and lived together in the same environment.”Classical” genetics would expect them to behave identically. But they do not: having each been given extra genes to glow when digesting lactose, their colony does not glow uniformly.

As absurd as it may sound at first glance, each bacterium is a clone but also a specific individual.

It turns out that one shouldn’t just look at what genes are present in an organism, but also at the way they are “expressed“, with some of them turned on or off randomly and/or by “external forces” (“nurture” again).

There is a short and clear article about clones and individuality, recently published on the New York Times. The end result is that the whole cloning industry may have been promising too much, and the exact duplication of human beings could result a truly impossible dream.

More seriously, the whole of the Science of Genetics needs a rethink, as way too much emphasis has been given on finding genes rather than on finding out which genes are activated and when and why.

In the future, the much-celebrated Human Genome Project will be seen only as a step in the right direction, not an achievement in itself. Because we are not all and simply written down in our DNA.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/03 at 22:47:35

Posted in Humanity, Science

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