Feb 11

Regarding Egypt…

For many Americans, the Middle East is a haven for terrorists, oil, and sand.  This infographic loosely based on Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark might help with regards to Egypt.  This infographic from Hootsuite shows some of the social media metrics.  The Daily Show and the Colbert Report also do more than your favorite pundit, fearmonger, or gasbag.

The current crisis in Egypt first appeared in my Google Reader with a story of Egyptian Muslim’s protecting their fellow countrymen Coptic Christians during prayer.

There was (and is still) great debate on the contribution social media in revolutions spreading across the Middle East (and causing concern as far away as China).  These tools were and are bring used in capacities beyond their original intent, spreading the protesters plans (full translation here).  World economic leaders gathered at DAVOS appear to have appreciated that social-media led uprisings are the new normal.  The true factor powering these protests is the network of people, not profiles on Facebook and Twitter.  Regardless, YouTube and Flickr are assisting in the story telling in ways only they can.

Explanations abound from Egyptians living at home and expats abroad.

While the Obama Administration appears to have been surprised by the events in Egypt, US State Department cables released via Wikileaks in the NYTimes showed increasing dissatisfaction and disengagement.  The US State Department also worked with Google to get videos showing human rights abuses uncensored after blocking at the request of the Egyptian government.  It’s worthwhile to point out that the military hardware crushing dissent was paid for in American dollars.

Network analysis revealed that access to the internet in Egypt was nearly cut off [infographic]. Cutting off access to connect, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate is essential to stopping a revolution; Cutting of access is not without cost.  It sends a signal to peer nations, the populace at large, and business and trading partners, none for the better.  I suspect that access to social media will be regarded as a barometer to the freedom and stability of nations.

I’m unsure if anyone has checked in with Malcolm Gladwell on the subject, who previously reported that social media was not sufficient for activism.  His criticism was not well received at the time, even less so now.

Jun 10

Safe Predictions: “This is Obama’s Malaise Speech!”

The Usurper in Chief will be giving a speech tonight addressing energy policy, preempting your favorite summer re-runs.   From Republican Mark McKinnion:

Presidents should use the Oval Office selectively. It has the weight and bearing of the Pope giving a special Mass at the Vatican. It’s not the place to announce volunteerism awards. It’s not a place for updates. It’s a place to announce serious plans.

And that apparently is what Obama is  planning: demanding from BP an escrow account to make quick, fair payments to those affected by the spill, and from Congress energy legislation with a much broader scope than had been contemplated before the spill.

I will make one of the safest.bets.ever.   Every pundit, and particularly conservatives, will call it Obama’s Malaise speech, most likely before they even get the advance transcripts.

Just in case you were wondering about the origins of the phrase, I wrote a little something about why the public LIKED what Jimmy Carter had to say in his ‘malaise’ speech, that is until the political operatives, pundits, and press got hold of it:

You may recall that Jimmy Carter’s ‘Malaise Speech’ was  extremely well received by Americans:

Contrary to later spin, the speech was extremely popular. The White House was flooded with positive calls. Viewers polled while watching found that the speech inspired them as it unfolded.

To this day, I don’t entirely know why the speech came to be derided for a word that was in the air, but never once appeared in the text.  Still, the “malaise  label stuck: maybe because President Carter’s cabinet shake-up a few days later wasted the political energy that had been focused on our energy problems; maybe because the administration’s opponents attached it to the speech relentlessly; maybe because it was just too hard to compete with Ronald Reagan and his banner of limitless American consumption.

The press still hammered Carter, who incidentally  never used ‘malaise’ in the speech “ the phrase having originated from the Reagan campaign.   The mention of “malaise  in the press over time seems inversely correlated to Jimmy Carter’s approval ratings.   The ability of the Sunday morning blowhards and pundits to cause people to act against their own self interest never ceases to amaze me.

Moving away from a petroleum-based economy solves so many problems that one would think it to be a no-brainer.   It reduces our risk and exposure to uncertainties in the Middle East, is better for the environment, and would cascading effects for health, the economy, employment, and technology.   Of course, success under a Democratic President is unacceptable for Republicans; also, they “ and many Democrats “ are absolutely dependent on the Military-Industrial Complex, the Insurance and Banking industries, and Big Oil.   So, naturally, they will advocate an unsustainable status quo.

Apr 08

Daily Links

Feb 08

Daily Links

Feb 08

Where in the world is the USS Jimmy Carter?

As soon as I had heard that a second fiber-optic undersea internet cable (map and story here and here – the number of broken cables now stands at four) had been broken in the Middle East, I automatically thought of the United States, the Bush Administrations desire to hit Iran, and the USS Jimmy Carter.

In the US Navy, tradition is that Presidents names are placed on aircraft carriers. But things would be different for Jimmy Carter, a former Nuclear Submariner. The Seawolf class submarine that would eventually bare his name would also be different than her class-mates.


jesse robbins lolsubs

Image courtesy Flickr user jesse robbins.

As always, prior to my being able to sit down and craft a post explaining the Carter and her possible connection to this story, Dave at the Galloping Beaver has already beaten me to the punch:

What does this have to do with anything? Well, first of all, the sheets and pages of information on USS Jimmy Carter’s multi-mission capabilities have all disappeared off the US Navy’s sites. Even the commissioning announcement at Commander Submarine Group Two is gone.

The second thing is this:


Internet services in Qatar have been seriously disrupted because of damage to an undersea telecoms cable linking the Gulf state to the UAE, the fourth such incident in less than a week. Qatar Telecom (Qtel) said on Sunday the cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday. The cause of damage is not yet known, but ArabianBusiness.com has been told unofficially the problem is related to the power system and not the result of a ship’s anchor cutting the cable, as is thought to be the case in the other three incidents.


Well actually, there is no evidence that ships anchors did anything of the sort. In fact, Egypt says ships did not sever the fiber-optic cables.


Two cables were damaged earlier this week in the Mediterranean sea and another off the coast of Dubai, causing widespread disruption to internet and international telephone services in Egypt, Gulf Arab states and South Asia.

A fourth cable linking Qatar to the United Arab Emirates was damaged on Sunday causing yet more disruptions, telecommunication provider Qtel said.

Egypt’s transport ministry said footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.

“The ministry’s maritime transport committee reviewed footage covering the period of 12 hours before and 12 hours after the cables were cut and no ships sailed the area,” a statement said.


Those cables are about the width of a normal human thumb. And a ship’s anchor would indeed rip right through one. But four? In three different locations in under a week? Run that little coincidence by any police detective and ask what she/he thinks.So, at the risk of perpetrating a conspiracy theory, I will state that I am highly suspicious and until someone can point at USS Jimmy Carter snuggly alongside at its berth in Bangor, Washington, the Bush administration becomes as strong a suspect as any other possible perpetrator. There is also the fact that USS Jimmy Carter was due to become operational this year.


The Jimmy Carter, interestingly, is purpose built where its predecessors were regular attack subs modified for specific jobs. USS Parche was equipped with a set of pick-up arms designed to rip an armoured fiber-optic cable from its meter deep trench and tap into it. As a matter of certain knowledge, the USN did exactly that with submarines on Soviet undersea copper cables during the cold-war. They conducted a successful tap on the Soviet navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters when they tapped an undersea cable in the Sea of Okhotsk, which was discovered by the Soviets and another of the Kola Peninsula tapping into the Soviet Northern Fleet headquarters which remained undiscovered.

There have also been leaks which state that the US National Security Agency tapped a fiber-optic undersea cable with some success. The problem was the flood of information which NSA computers were unable to handle at that time.

Some additional details regarding the technical capabilities of the Carter can be found her at DefenseTech, Global Security, and the US NAVY, with Empywheel running some of the political and military calculus at Firedoglake. As reported in the Seattle Times, the Carter has been moved from Groton, Connecticut to her new base in Bangor, operating in the Pacific rim, which on its face excludes the Carter as a culprit.