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Comment Re:And What Will Come of It? (Score 1) 107

One would think that the military are a bit more coolheaded about it, but there seem to be similar cases with excessive rules of engagement.
Soldiers are willing to take risks to avoid casualties but their superiors tell them to do otherwise.

The reason is obvious. The ability for the US to project power is restrained by intolerance at home for soldiers returning in coffins.
So the rules of engagement are adapted accordingly, preference for killing by remote, and in case of direct contact, when in doubt, kill.
This in the first place leads to a lot of foreign casualties, and secondly to a lot of antagonism and well, more enemies.

Actually it's more complex, because there is also only moderate tolerance for directly killing the other guys. Then again there is little objection to less direct forms of killing because it easily gets muddled and confused. We're used to the lowest estimates of casualties in Iraq before 2007, just like we're used to the highest estimates in Syria now.
There is a high tolerance for drone killings, but mostly because they're viewed as highly successful tools that make few mistakes. Which they're not.
You can't do carpet bombing anymore though. It's not tolerated.

Comment Re:And What Will Come of It? (Score 1) 107

You mean an anecdote? How about we look at the numbers of people who have been released from prison after being proved innocent, who were badgered into confessing by police interrogators - 65 out of 149 [motherjones.com] last year. Like prosecutors, cops are far, far, far more interested in "winning" than in actual justice.

.
I think this is a relevant argument. Cops shooting people up are just the tip of the iceberg. A symptom rather than the central problem. Not sure how widespread it is but the black community has good reasons to distrust the judicial system and feeling reduced to just a resource for the prison lobby, with cooperation of the lawyers who go along thinking 'yeah well there's always the possibility to appeal'. Plea bargains are a very rotten system allowing to put people in prison for anything. Just threaten to accuse them of any 3 things and they'll admit to having done one of them.

Comment Re:This isn't really that hard to understand (Score 2) 618

I've seen articles psychologizing both sides(actually there are more sides), and the articles don't have to be wrong in order to be counterproductive. When you're reducing your opponent in the debate as being the mere product of psychological and social drivers, you're effectively dismissing part of the debate.
So you get polarization that loses sight of the main issues. So the public debate becomes a mass of lousy thinking where confirmation bias dominates everything.
At the same time the possibility to be informed has increased massively, and I think the skeptics have contributed a lot to that.

My main guideline would be to keep an eye on the ball. Disregard news about the other side making mistakes, disregard all the little news items confirming what 'we' have been saying all along. I think the main issue is the sea level. How fast is it going to rise.
The main emotional issue is that everything is going to change. The planet is becoming mostly manmade and 'unmanaged' nature is going to disappear, partly helped by climate change, and not going to come back. Mankind may well be able to cope with climate change, but the switch to a managed planet certainly feels as a severe loss. I think often this sense of loss is not acknowledged but instead translated to apocalyptic 'we're all going to die' scenarios.

Comment Re:And What Will Come of It? (Score 3, Interesting) 107

There's another reason why collecting data is not enough.The police rules of engagement can move along a spectrum from military-like(enemy territory) to police-like(working for the public). I think they shifted a lot towards military-like rules: as soon as a potential risk has been acknowledged the person with the badge has the right to kill. So maybe one should ask european cops what they think of US cops killing and then their chiefs defending the actions.

Comment Re:"arab spring" and western media (Score 1) 39

That's what I mean, foreign powers aren't accepting that at all, so all the suffering, deaths, and radicalization in the population is more a result of foreign interventions than a result of what the people are hoping for themselves and their children.

Well, it's easy to make the disagreement more than it is. I'd say that in the face of the opposition, internal powers as well as foreign powers, democracy was only going to work if people stuck together and they didn't. The youth groups (Tamarud) did side with the military coup, or the military realignment if you want. If you recall El Baradei, so did he. So I think the secular egyptians did throw away a small chance for democracy.
I also think the west was giving egyptian democracy a chance, but when the MB was overthrown they were mainly relieved. That's policy as well as public opinion. The West can no longer control what happens in the middle east. The oil states are pumping tens of billions of dollars into Egypt to support the current regime, try to match that.

And as for what Egyptians are hoping for themselves and their children, I try not to think about it too much. It's too discomforting.

Comment Re:"arab spring" and western media (Score 1) 39

I think the opposition is closest to us westerners. It felt it had to choose between two sides that they didn't want.
On the one side there were the powers behind the old dictatorship, which were mostly still in place, and which had strong foreign backing: oil countries mainly, and Israel, with the US as undecided.
On the other hand there was a poor and religious majority, which prefers religion to be part of the state.
Everyone sees religion as political power. We want to minimize the power of religion, we want separation of church and state, and so does the egyptian middle class.
But the poor see religion in politics as a way to protect their interests, as a reasonable way to represent them.
They see it as less likely to sell out to foreign interests, so it's tied to nationalism. That is what happened in Iran in 79, and there it wasn't even the poor but a very large majority.

I think the middle class made a terrible choice but I can understand it.
I'm not sure whether you should call that 'they were a tool' or just a conscious choice.
There was a campaign to sugarcoat the choice for them but they didn't choose much differently than what we would prefer.

Only, that's where I'm not fond of western preferences.
I think If you want any kind of democracy in the middle east it's often going to have a strong religious side, at least in the beginning, and it's better to accept that. The egyptian middle class didn't accept that. So I think you have to accept a broad definition of democracy, one that could go as broad as meaning 'the people feel their interests are sufficiently represented in the functioning of the state'.

Now as far as regime change goes, I'm pretty much anti-interventionist. If there is a critical mass ready to carry the change, good, but if you force it you'll only make things worse. I thought the idea of overthrowing regimes in Libya, Iraq, Syria was terrible. So what it entails for the current regime, we can realistically pressure them for moderation, so they behave better, but not overthrow them. I doubt anyone is pressuring the egyptian regime now unfortunately.

Comment Re:"arab spring" and western media (Score 1) 39

Alright, maybe I'm too harsh, but the opposition supported the coup against the elected government of Morsi. One can rightly say they were being manipulated but I think that's a thin excuse. I think there is not enough trust in democracy in Egypt to make it work. The west is particularly fickle on the matter , in part because we're anti islam, and often antireligious, but if you look at Venezuela , that is also a democracy with a very poor majority, and we can't even perceive of it as a democracy.

I think this journalist gives a good picture of what happened http://www.counterpunch.org/20...

Comment Re:"arab spring" and western media (Score 1) 39

The Egyptian case is interesting but I disagree with most of what you say. The internet gave a false idea of the reality in Egypt because it emphasized the role of the relatively secular middle class , while the majority of the population is poor and religious and not present on the net . That means as soon as you get any form of democracy it will consist of a religious majority. The revolution was not hijacked, it just led to a democratic majority that is not likable. Then there were a few things coming together. The leadership were incompetent. You can blame them, but that's what you get with first timers. Secondly, times were harsh. Thirdly, they had little power because the old powers still were mostly in place and if the old powers decided things would not get better then things would not get better. You got incidents like power outages , gas shortage and so on, for which the government was blamed, but guess who controlled these resources. Fourth, the old powers were fully intent to return to power with the help of mainly the Saudis. All this made the middle class easy to convince to turn on the government. Well, they got what they wanted. Ok, maybe not entirely. But as far as I'm concerned, they got their chance and threw it away. Next issue please.
The US didn't play a major role. They accepted the return of the new government and then who wouldn't, it's just being realistic.

Comment Re:what a load of shit (Score 1) 233

I see it slightly differently. One, with experience people quickly adapt, much quicker than they expect. Second, there is a huge difference in how risk tolerant people are.
You have risk tolerant people who adapt very quickly to the simple situations like traffic jams and fairly quickly to medium and even hard situations(where they're prone to have accidents). That will happen whatever the guidelines say.
  More cautious people will take longer adapting to medium and will hold off trusting the autopilot in hard situations. But I expect everyone will quicky adapt and be working their smartphone in traffic jams in no time.

And that is of course the real sales value of all these new driving aids: not safety, but smartphone time.

Comment The Big Picture (Score 3, Interesting) 181

The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg had an article in the Guardian about how the big media players are getting too much control over the information flow. I think it's a timid and diplomatic article and I would put it in stronger words. But at least we should be able to see that the danger exists that information flow is massaged to suit big powers. If google search buries a link then it does not exist. If google ads decides you're publishing information they don't like, they lock you out and you'll think twice after that. Mainstream media already stick to extremely narrow narratives, it will spread beyond that.

https://www.theguardian.com/co...

Media consumption today is increasingly digitized, but even more so it is curated. News and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Flipboard have overtaken traditional news outlets as our primary sources of information, of news, of connection to the world around us. They have become our most frequently visited sites, especially among the younger generations, and have empowered the public to create and share their own content. With this ease of access to information in today’s world, comes a great responsibility to enact policies that make positive contributions to society.

By exercising such overarching editorial rights, large corporations that ought to bring us closer together as human beings through transparency, end up altering history, and altering the truth. Already, Facebook and other media outlets’ algorithms narrow the range of content one sees based on past preferences and interests. This limits the kind of stories one sees, and in turn restricts access to a holistic outlook for the user. We run the risk of creating parallel societies in which some people are not aware of the real issues facing the world, and this is only exacerbated by such editorial oversight. As we move towards a more automated world, this is not a responsibility that should be surrendered to machines only.

Comment Re:Powell can't bring himself to vote for Hillary (Score 1) 248

There is an excellent discussion on how to choose between Clinton and Trump on here http://scotthorton.org/intervi... . Both Horton and Gitlin think they're two bad choices but their conclusions are opposite. Their interpretation of what is the least evil choice is different. For Horton the belligerence of the mainstream establishment, and certainly of its right wing to which Clinton belongs, is the most pressing problem, for Gitlin the erratic and unstable behavior of Trump is the biggest danger.

Comment Re:Lifting candidates (Score 2) 248

I agree. I recall everyone making fun of him about his not knowing what Aleppo was. If you pay attention his attitude was that he could get by on general doctrinal thinking and didn't need the details: what would a libertarian think, and that happened not to be half bad (stay out), much better than most experts in my view.
Of course the attitude of going on general principles and not requiring specifics has its problems, but also libertarian thinking is often isolationist and then one doesn't need to know much about the foreign situation.

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