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Is it the supernatural or just a mere coincidence?

The West has a long history of supporting autocratic regimes that are ‘stabilizing influences’ in various regions across the world.  The autocrats keep the inspirations of the local population in check by whatever means necessary (read violence and repression) to keep the doors open for (western) business.  This particular model crumbles eventually as people do eventually come together and throw out their oppressors.  Witness Tunisia, they are fighting for their country now and they may just win their freedom.

“The Tunisian uprising, which succeeded in toppling Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, has brought down the walls of fear, erected by repression and marginalisation, thus restoring the Arab peoples’ faith in their ability to demand social justice and end tyranny.

It is a warning to all leaders, whether supported by international or regional powers, that they are no longer immune to popular outcries of fury.

It is true that Ben Ali’s flight from the country is just the beginning of an arduous path towards freedom. It is equally true that the achievements of the Tunisian people could still be contained or confiscated by the country’s ruling elite, which is desperately clinging to power.

But the Tunisian intifada has placed the Arab world at a crossroads. If it fully succeeds in bringing real change to Tunis it will push the door wide open to freedom in Arab word. If it suffers a setback we shall witness unprecedented repression by rulers struggling to maintain their absolute grip on power.

Either way, a system that combined a starkly unequal distribution of wealth with the denial of freedoms has collapsed. (italics mine)

The maldistribution of wealth is a one of the prime motivating factors for revolution.  It is a feature of many popular revolts and will continue to be so until the elites realize that insulating themselves from the rest of people ultimately leads to their ruinous downfall.  It is the actions of the elite that determine whether societies prosper and fail.  I suggest reading Ronald Wright’s short book – A Short History of Progress to see how this story plays out repeatedly through history.

The people of Tunisia are revolting against a regime that restricted, repressed and tortured them, it is a lesson being played out in the Arab world about what can be done about their own situations, it would be wise of the people of the west also watched what has been wrought in their names, and how it is being rejected.

“Tunis may have been an extreme example, but all Arab regimes are variations on the same model, which obediently follows Western-instructed economic ‘liberalisation’ while strangling human rights and civil liberties.

The West has long admired the Tunisian system, praising its “secularism” and “liberal economic policies”, and, in its quest to open world markets and maximise profit, has turned a blind eye to human rights violations and the gagging of the media – two functions at which the Ben Ali regime excelled.

But Tunis, under Ben Ali, was not a model of secularism but a shameless model of tyranny. It turned “secularism” into an ideology of terror – not merely in the name of countering Islamic extremism but in an attempt to crush the spirit of opposition – Islamic, secular, liberal and socialist alike.

As with previous examples of countries it deemed to have embraced ‘successful economic models’, like Chile under the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, the West, particularly the US and France, backed the Ben Ali regime – prioritising forced stability over democracy.

But even when such governments remain in power for decades, thanks to Western support and a security apparatus that suppresses the people with immunity, it is only a matter of time before they come to a humiliating end.

The West, and the US in particular, has always abandoned its allies – a memorable example is the way in which Washington dropped Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late shah of Iran, when popular anger threatened the country’s stability.

Seems like the West is about to, once again, wash its hands of another abysmal failure successful economic model country.  The infection is spreading, that contagion the freedom of people to choose the destiny for their own country.

The people of Tunisia have spoken and, most significantly, the Arab people are listening.

The Tunisian protests have already triggered peaceful demonstrations in Jordan, where people have protested over inflation and government efforts to undermine political liberties and press freedoms and have demanded the departure of Samir al-Rifai, the prime minister.”

I imagine the planners in the West are fretting as they once did during the 1950’s where the stemming the “Red Tide” was so vitally important to Western Interests.  Blocking the dreaded domino effect some 2 million Vietnamese were slaughtered.  Thankfully, military resources are not available right now that would be allocated normally to crush revolutions the like of what is happening in Tunisia.

Arabs of all generations are also expressing their sentiments online – not only congratulating Tunisians but also calling for similar movements in their own countries.   And on Facebook, many have replaced their profile pictures with images of the Tunisian flag, as though draping themselves in the colours of an Arab revolution.

The failure of one of the Arab world’s most repressive security forces to quell people power has been met with jubilation. Bloggers have compared the event to the fall of the Berlin wall, suggesting that it will usher in a new era in which the Arab people will have a greater say in determining their future. Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian who set himself on fire in protest against unemployment and poverty, has become a symbol of Tunisian sacrifices for freedom. Activists across the region have called for the “Tunisation” of the Arab street – taking Tunis as a model for the assertion of people power and aspirations for social justice, the eradication of corruption and democratisation.

But the celebratory atmosphere dominating the blogosphere and wide sectors of Arab society is tainted by a prevailing sense of caution and fear: Caution because the situation in Tunis remains unclear and fear that there may be a coup d’état, which would impose security but stifle popular aspirations.”

Jubilation and caution all mixed together.  The people in the region have seen what happened in Iran and Iraq, how meddling Western Powers can quickly destroy a nation.  Is Tunisia flying high enough above the radar to warrant Imperial attention.  Many rightfully feel trepidation because of the threat of foreign intervention.

The article ends with a quote from a Tunisian poet:

“History has shown that security forces can silence people but can never crush the simmering revolt that lies beneath the ashes. Or in the words of the beloved Tunisian poet Abul-Qasim al-Shabi in his poem To the Tyrants of the World:


Wait, don’t let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you …

Because the darkness, the thunder’s rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you

from the horizon

Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash

Makes ya think, just a little.  Go see the original pic at Subnormality and for the rest of the yummy archive.

A pox on dust, and a severe reprimand for both (well not really) that are messing with our ability to observe the universe around us.

“Cosmic dust is fogging up attempts to study light left over from the Big Bang, and Canadian scientists aim to clear up the problem. The microscopic dust permeates the universe, producing confusing signals in data collected by the Planck space telescope, which is designed to study distant light originating from the beginning of the universe 13 billion years ago. The dust — mainly sand and soot particles, each about the size of a bacterium — makes up about one per cent of the mass in space, not very much compared with the mass of hydrogen and helium, said University of Toronto astronomer Peter Martin.”

Not exactly a problem a good spring cleaning is going to fix.

“Our cosmologist friends would call it ‘noise’,” Martin said. “It’s not blocking [the radiation]. It’s adding to the signal and therefore confusing what might otherwise be pure cosmological cosmic microwave background radiation.” Martin and his colleagues are trying to figure out what microwave signal the dust produces as it glows so that signal can be subtracted out of the overall data, leaving behind the pure microwave background radiation.”

Hopefully the right algorithm can be concocted to compensate for the dust that is making the data in question hard to interpret. One of the neat side discoveries about the dust itself does provide and interesting tangent.

“In the meantime, they have made some interesting discoveries about the dust itself. Based on the signals they measured, for example, they’ve found that some of the dust particles are spinning billions of times a second.

That was one of the first scientific results gathered using the telescope, which was launched in May 2009. It will continue collecting data until the end of 2011 from an orbit 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, toward Mars.

Martin thinks the dust is fascinating in itself because it is where heavy molecules generated within stars, such as carbon — including the carbon that makes up our bodies — has spent most of its existence over the past five billion years.

“When you’re talking to your friends, you’re talking to people that in an earlier existence used to be this interstellar dust.”

The idea that we are stardust and were outgassed from a star a couple billion years ago is pretty cool.  Isn’t science grand?

Liberal Viewer does a masterful job of bringing to light the waste involved in killing our fellow human beings.

It is really quite silly.  The U.A.E wanted more airplane births here in Canada.  Canada said no.  The U.A.E has responded with a series of measure that makes entering and doing business in the U.A.E, for Canadians, much more inconvenient.  The latest hiccup has been with two Canadian business people:

“Darius Mosun and his business partner, Jonathan Mark, spent more than 15 hours stranded at the Abu Dhabi airport because of confusion over new visa rules imposed on Canadian travellers.  Although their visa allowed them to enter the U.A.E. last week, they were blocked from entering that country a second time on Friday after making a side trip to Saudi Arabia.  They were told their visas were only valid for a single entry, even though that rule wasn’t written on the document itself.”

I’m not really sure why Harper and his merry men have denied the U.A.E more landing births in Canada, but the result is that Canadians travelling to the U.A.E they are facing trial by red-tape as soon as enter the airport.

“Mosun also said he noticed that Canadians were singled out at the airport for additional screening, something he hadn’t experienced on previous trips.  After arriving in Toronto, Mosun, 42, said such “major inconveniences” make it tough for Canadian companies to compete in foreign markets.  He said he’ll be contacting officials in Ottawa to urge them to protect Canadians travelling for business who may be affected by the diplomatic spat.  The new rules were imposed at the start of the month after Canada refused last fall to grant the U.A.E.’s two major airlines increased landing rights.”

The whole situation just seems a bit childish to be perfectly honest.  It is not like we are the US or anything and simply threaten and bully the U.A.E to acquiesce to our demands/rules.  We must come to a settlement that benefits both parties, a compromise that benefits both parties poorly.  It is the Canadian way after all.  :)

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