Maurizio – Omnologos

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The Illusion of Foreign Policy Morality

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It is disconcerting to read a knowledgeable and experienced person such as Thomas L Friedman fall in an old trap, claiming foreign policy morality for his own country (“Which world do you prefer?“, IHT, July 17).

Mr Friedman is apparently convinced that “America still has some moral backbone” because the USA “put forward a simple Security Council resolution” at the UN, calling for a series of sanctions against the quasi-dictatorial Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Such a move failed, however, due to “truly filthy” vetoes by Russia and China. For that matter, Mr Friedman throws in the “pure, rancid moral corruption” of South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki.

All hail the USA, then, because “there are travesties America will not tolerate“?

If only!

Doesn’t Mr Friedman know a thing about the US-backed regimes of Egypt and Pakistan, for example? Doesn’t he remember the scores of murderous dictatorships financed by successive US Administrations, on the horrendously immoral belief that it is ok to support a “bastard” as long as he was “our bastard“?

It is telling that a good response to Mr Friedman’s argument has been published in the very pages of the IHT, in the “Letter from China” by Howard W French of July 4, 2008 (“Behind the reluctance to criticize Mugabe“): where we learn for example how a mere twenty years ago, Washington (and London) were “running diplomatic interference for apartheid rule in Pretoria“, going as far as “backing South African guerrilla proxies in places like Angola, prolonging devastating wars there and elsewhere, and staving off independence for South African-occupied Namibia in the name of fighting communism“.

At this very moment, the USA and its “Western” allies are supporting dictators in Equatorial Guinea, and Angola. Is there a need to repeat here what everybody thinks, i.e. that such “travesties” are tolerated, whilst Mugabe’s is not, because Zimbabwe doesn’t have huge oil deposits?

That said, at the end of the day there is little point in starting a USA-bashing rhetorical exercize, just as there is little meaning in Mr Friedman’s clutching at moral straws regarding a particular vote at the Security Council.
This is the world we live in, and if we care for its morality the first step surely is not to delude ourselves into thinking that our side is “of course” the “good side”.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jul/17 at 22:16:26

Is America the First Culprit in the Death and Suffering of US Veterans?

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Is America the first culprit in the Death and Suffering of US Veterans?

Has anybody caused the deaths of more Muslims than Osama bin Laden? Who’s killed a greater number of Russians and of Communists than Stalin? Who’s been directly and indirectly responsible for the massacre of millions of Germans but Hitler? When did a bigger mass of Chinese met their final destiny than under Chairman Mao?

Such examples are too many to mention. Wouldn’t it be a nice headstart towards global peace, say, if we would all stop killing our own let alone the purported enemies? Some hope! For now, history will continue its history as a murderous farce.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jul/10 at 22:42:11

Back to Basics on Iran and the Bomb

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Oceans of ink are being wasted without addressing the most basic issue regarding Iran and its nuclear weapons program. The latest example is Peter D. Zimmerman’s op-ed, “Nearer to the Bomb” (IHT, July 8), where we are treated to 674 words in order to state the most obvious of facts (“the real purpose of Iranian enrichment is to provide fuel for weapons, not reactors“).

However, not a comma is dedicated to the problem of Iran’s own security, regularly and openly threatened with talks of war and mentions of foreign-supported “regime change”.

Have we learned really nothing from years of negotiations going nowhere, of sanctions resulting in nothing, and of incentives regularly failing to persuade successive Iranian Presidents and negotiators? Does anybody seriously think that Iran can afford, at this stage, to remain nuclearly unarmed?

Mr Zimmermann rather tellingly is able to contemplate harsh sanctions but only “modest low-calorie sweeteners“. That is exactly the kind of attitude that has brought the “Iran Bomb” issue where it stands at the moment.

When and where will the EU or the USA find instead the courage to offer full security guarantees to the Islamic Republic, in order to achieve a less nuclear, more secure world?

Written by omnologos

2008/Jul/09 at 00:44:19

Posted in Ethics, EU, Humanity, Iran, Politics, UK, USA

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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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Cluster Bombs Convention – Update

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What exactly has been achieved in Dublin about Cluster Bombs?

  1. Over 100 countries agreed to ban “the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all existing and future cluster bombs
  2. There is no exception, and no transition period. The ban covers all kinds of “submunitions
  3. Stockpiles must be destroyed within 8 years
  4. A new standard has been defined for humanitarian assistance for victims, families and communities
  5. A “Treaty” will be signed in Oslo in December 2008 (Nobel Peace Prize, anybody…)
  6. It will then take 30 countries to officially adopt the Treaty, for this to actually enter into force
  7. Afterwards it will be a matter of monitoring the situation
  8. Last but not least, the muribund UN talks on conventional weapons may be brought back to life

Countries such as the USA, Russia and China do not appear likely to join the ban on cluster bombs. Some say “submunitions” are essential to modern war and without them many of their soldiers may get killed.

The best reply to that, I have read it somewhere on the web: “Cluster bombs save soldiers’ lives? So would anthrax…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/02 at 22:58:51

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nobel, Politics

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Cluster Ban Treaty Approved

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Cluster bomb ban treaty approved

More than 100 nations have reached an agreement on a treaty which would ban current designs of cluster bombs.

Written by omnologos

2008/May/28 at 23:51:05

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Politics

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Censored! (by Anti-Censorship Website…)

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Does the company of dogs inspire one to bark? That’s what looks like happening at anti-China, (allegedly) anti-censorship blog “Under the Jacaranda Tree“.

Months, years perhaps of fighting against the censorship perpetrated by what is after all still a dictatorship, have taught “Jacaranda”‘s authors “Ned Kelly” and “Catherine A Young” that the way to deal with criticism is by censoring the offending text, and by banning its author.

(that is…me!)

With friends like these, the Tibetan and journalist Hu Jia‘s plights are unlikely to get any better for the foreseeable future.

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What has happened then? While researching my “Tibet and the Olympics: Remember Jin Jing” blog on Apr 22, I have stumbled upon Jacaranda’s “Bart Simpson and Jin Jing’s spin-doctors” where Mr Kelly strongly suggests that the whole Jin Jing Olympic torch relay incident has been staged, and promises “further analysis of more evidence surrounding the incident”.

I then added to their blog this comment (visible at “Under the Jacaranda Tree: Bart Simpson and Jin Jing’s spin-doctors“) about such “further analysis”:

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter any longer. The pictures are out there. There are two assaults, not just one. Ms. Jin’s facial expression is that of a person in distress, or an unexpectedly great actress.

So obscure photographic analysis and talks about the behaviour of foreigners marching towards a demo in Paris, won’t do the trick. You may as well try to stop a tsunami with a teaspoon.

Evidently I am unable to read my own words, because they look like a straight and mild statement of personal opinion to me…yet either Mr Kelly or Ms Young took very and grave offence at them. And so despite claims of technical issues with their website, they posted a new blog on Apr 23: “Why we have banned a recent commenter“.

Don’t waste time in looking for that blog now, as it has been deleted: not early enough to disappear from my WordPress dashboard though, with the text

[…] MEANWHILE, we received a comment from this OBVIOUSLY MAINLAND CHINESE W*NK*R! […]

(without the *’s) linking to my “Maurizio’s Testimonials” page. In the meanwhile, my comment did not pass their web site moderation. Still it has not been published on “Jacaranda”, despite a second attempt to submit it.

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Based on the above, this can be said about Ned Kelly and/or Catherine A Young, the authors of the blog “Under the Jacaranda Tree”:

(1) They are so full of anti-Chinese anger, they write blogs of hate with little or zero critical thinking (I mean…leaving aside accusations of autoeroticism 8-), who can even think that I am “obviously mainland Chinese” when my pictures are all over the place?)

(2) They are so full of themselves and of their redeeming crusade to save the world against evil Beijing, they cannot tolerate the mildest form of dissent, launching themselves in verbally violent, frankly unjustified fits against the dissenter, whose words are censored and whose very name is banned from their site (sadly, this is exactly the behaviour of the Chinese government)

(3) At some point, they must have realized the absolute idiocy of their “W*NK*R” blog, removing it in the hope no-one would notice (thus demonstrating little familiarity with the ways of blogging, backtracking and WordPress)

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Mr Kelly and Ms Young know that I know, because I added some reference in my second commenting attempt (remember, they have censored that one too). They also know how to contact me (all it takes is a comment to my website).

A word of apology, and removal of the censorship, will make a huge difference: I am a regular guy expressing his sometimes flawed, other times not-so-flawed thoughts. The “sin”, rather than Onan’s, seems to be my desire for independent thought (independent, that is, from Mr Kelly’s and Ms Young’s…)

Yet it is worrying that either or both of them could so quickly think of me as “obviously mainland Chinese”. In the absence of any reply, one will have to agree with those that believe that behind the pro-Tibet campaign, there lies the spectre of anti-Chinese “post-racist” sentiments.

Written by omnologos

2008/Apr/24 at 20:44:39