August 4th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Feminism

Feministing

Very interesting article on the nature of what we would call modern feminism today. Again, I’m not criticizing the nature of any movement for equality that people desire. I just think there’s much to criticize in most post-modern movements. I think they all arise from this idea of absolute individual autonomy that borders on the western notion of owning something (in this case, the body) as the absolute. I also think that there are very real problems with how we code consent (as a binary), when it’s really about power relations. Take for example the fact that we think it’s wrong for a tenured professor to sleep with an undergrad student. There’s clearly no parity in terms of power between the two.

“That self-criticality means advocating for consent while questioning Western individualism’s reliance on the language of capitalism. For example, in Richard M. Wright’s essay on teaching consent through playtime, Wright explains sexual consent using the example of a friend wanting to borrow a book – if your friend says no or expresses hesitation, the author writes, you shouldn’t borrow their book. While the example itself is useful, upon closer examination it troubled me: I want to be able to make an argument for our rights over our bodies without necessarily relying on the idea of property ownership.

How do we imagine a standard of bodily autonomy which doesn’t reduce us to a libertarian vision of atomized individuals trading consent on a free market, but instead emphasizes our codependence?”

Feminist Current

Article and podcast on how the movement about reproductive rights should not be about “rights” but should be about sovereignty.

Iran

The Iran Project

Iran says its non-oil exports remain uncompetitive. This, despite the fact that the dropping of the sanctions was supposed to ease some pressure.

Iran Export Ship (Image Source: Flickr)
Iran Export Ship (Image Source: Flickr)

United States

FiveThirtyEight

Discussion on what Trump needs to do to right the ship. Strictly Machiavellian (as they mention themselves).

July 27th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Society

Consumerist

Article on a study that was conducted on a wide range of consumers, all in the first world, on the kind of purchases they made with their money and how happy it made them. Apparently, these people gained more happiness If they produced time-saving devices/ services with their money.

I think it would be very interesting if someone tried to replicate this experiment in a third world-country. I think there’s a certain value attached to status items when people acquire money in a country that isn’t part of the first world.

Right Wing

Acting Man

Person who claims that the British were the best thing to happen to India. Real Uncle Tom vibes from this one.

Rightly Considered

Philosophical argument against the death penalty. Blog that is dedicated to right wing philosophers. Article on why the author considers the death penalty to be just: because some people deserve it. He also brings in the question of who authorizes said punishments. As an aside he also mentions that God and the Church can punish him.

UK

SPERI

With the UK leaving the EU, they will have to renegotiate with the SACU, a bloc of Southern African countries that includes Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa among its members. It’s imperative that they lock that down since they apparently quite a large amount to these countries. The article also points out that since the SACU negotiates as a bloc, this makes things a little more complicated, since there are varying levels of importance in these linkages.

LSE Blog

Does MP voting reflect what the MP believes or what his constituents believe? The article feels like since MPs voted for what their constituents felt like on a certain range of issues (free votes?), this would also extend to other issues. I’m not sure about this one. I think the behavior of members of the parliament are dictated by a much more complex array of preferences. One of which is the institution of the political party.

Iran

Al Monitor via The Iran Project

Inflation in Iran is set to climb a marginal amount (from 10.2% to 10.9%) in Rouhani’s second term. Iran’s cash economy seems to be one of the biggest reasons why the country struggles to keep inflation in check. Their central bank has to keep up the supply of money in the economy to ensure that it satisfies all potential transactions, and this can lead to inflation if left unchecked. The central bank is also looking to manage the interest rate so that they can manage the balance between investment and inflation.

Scotland & Catalan

Fair Observer

Scotland and Catalan are both countries within countries. Or at the very least that’s how the local population predominantly feels. They have both tried to hold referendums in the past. Article focuses on why the referendum attempts that they might attempt in the future need the support of the British and Spanish governments, even if it is by coercion.

Catalan National Day (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Catalan National Day (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Media

YouTube via Long War Journal

Watch an Al- Qaeda affiliated organization along the Syria-Lebanon border shoot down an armed Hezbollah drone. The drone is seen dropping its payload at various locations, before being shot down.

Israel

Al Jazeera

Israel has removed the metal railings at the Al-Aqsa mosque. They removed the metal detectors on Tuesday.  According to an Al Jazeera reporter, this is a very people centric movement and is not directly influenced by any political organization (read: Hamas). I posted a video of the protests outside the Al Aqsa mosque which was essentially Muslims praying on the street. Though, there has been media of major unrest around the area.

Middle East

National Interest

Iran is significantly important in the world at this moment. Back before the nuclear deal, Iran was just one bit of the “axis of evil”. The nuclear deal and the restrain that Iran and the United States showed in reaching it, changed all that. Iran sort of came out of the shadows of the world. Sort of. The problem is, with an Iran that could work with nuclear fuel came fear from majority Sunni Gulf States and Israel. The article details how the Iran issue is driving them together. This is a good example of how something can make it seem like there’s some modicum of co-operation, but it’s really more of an alliance of convenience. I think that if the Gulf States and Israel do come closer solely on the basis of the Iran issue, it would be like if you got married to someone just for the sex. Eventually you realize that it’s not enough. There needs to be much wider engagement between the two blocs.

United States

Vox

Skinny Repeal is essentially the only thing that the Republicans can get enough numbers behind to pass. Anything else is way too radical. All of them know that they would be impaled by their constituents if they repealed Obamacare wholesale. Not to knock Obamacare, but at this point of time, it really does not matter if Obamacare is the most splendid healthcare bill on the planet. As long as it does a half decent job and people perceive it as kind of fair, it’ll be nearly impossible to repeal. Healthcare and other government services are kind of like that. They’re massive and have such enormous amounts of inertia that it becomes political suicide to touch them.

Tech

Zero Hedge

The internet was around a long time before 1995, but it started to experience 100% growth year upon year from 1995 onwards. That’s the year Netscape was introduced. With respect to the article, I don’t think bitcoin has really had its Netscape moment yet, but time will tell.

July 24th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Economics

MPRA

Study that explores the empowerment of women by various means and how this affects the child birth decision.

Egypt and Palestine

Daily News Egypt

The League of Arab States is to meet to decide how best to handle the escalating situation at the Al- Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

“On Friday, Egypt called on Israel to immediately stop the violations and security measures against Palestinians in Jerusalem after three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces at the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

In a separate incident, Omar Abdel Razek, a Hamas lawmaker was arrested.

Al Aqsa Mosque
Al Aqsa Mosque (Image Source: Pixabay)

Artificial Intelligence

Motherboard

Google researchers, Hui Fang and Meng Zhang, tried to test if they could write an algorithm, that could mimic the composition skills of a professional photographer. They started by defining the different aesthetic aspects of “good” photographs and then tried to make the program learn to do it in an automated manner. Apparently, it turned out semi-professional.

Sociological/Political

Aeon

Essay on the permeating effect of cold war philosophy and the big red scare of the post- WWII years in the United States.

Alt-Right

Daily Stormer

Where will the alt-lite fall? Is occupying the grey space in-between the resistance and the alt-right really worth the effort?

Society

Vogue

Tamara Shopin on growing up in New York City, the curious characters and how it shaped her.

“Whatever the opposite of helicopter parents, that’s what my parents were,” Shopsin remarks. Her childhood was refreshingly free-range; the Shopsin kids soaked up the magic of The Store—the only rule was don’t touch the meat slicer—bounced around the neighborhood, and consorted with its many characters. “Things the rest of the country found odd or disgraceful were welcomed with open arms in the Village,” she writes. “It became a symphony of oddities, and acted as a magnet for the country’s fringe people.”

Tech

Fair Observer

Basic productivity tools have not changed much over the past 2 decades. Soundcloud discussion and article on the state of productivity and what can be done to improve it.

Iran

RT

Iran and Iraq have signed an MoU that will improve military cooperation and also help the countries battle against extremism and the threats of terrorist violence. The Iraqi defense minister also praised the Iranian Popular Mobilization Forces and stressed their legitimacy.

“The main credit [in the Mosul victory] goes to the Iraqi soldiers, people’s militia, Iraqi air force,” al-Maliki underlined.

He added that he “regrets and denies [Americans] claiming the victory [in Mosul] is their achievement” which Washington now plans to use as a way to establish military bases on Iraqi territory in order to maintain influence in the region.”