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Links 15 July 2013

Rami G. Khouri in The Daily Star, Spare Us Your Intellectual Disneylands:

    “Arab citizens, who now can express their identities and mobilize in the millions for mass political action, represent the agency of the individual citizen that remains, in my mind, the single most important development in the country since January 2011. …
    “Egyptians are not mobs who must choose only between democracy and army rule; rather they comprise thousands of citizen groups that rise and fall according to the times and conditions. Some go to public squares, some give to local charities, some stay home and watch television and vote when they are given that opportunity, and many millions do some or all of these things. This historic assertion of citizen agency in the past 30 months has resulted in indigenous political movements whose fortunes rise and fall. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, the revolutionary youth, Salafist Islamists, the National Salvation Front…all have only one thing in common: They are accountable ultimately to the will of the Egyptians, and cannot try to impose a system of rule or national policies that the citizenry does not accept.”

Baheyya, Fashioning a Coup:

    “It’s soothing to believe that a popular uprising ejected an incompetent Islamist president. It’s not comforting to point out that a popular uprising was on the cusp of doing so, until the generals stepped in, aborted a vital political process, arrested the president, and proclaimed their own ‘roadmap’ for how things will be from now on. …
    “With their July 3 coup, Egypt’s new military overlords and their staunch American backers are playing an age-old game, the game of turning the public against the ineluctable bickering, inefficiency, gridlock, and intense conflict that is part and parcel of a free political life, so that a disillusioned, fatigued people will pine for the stability and order that the military then swoops in to provide. …
    “As the recently self-designated ’eminence grise’ Mohamed ElBaradie summed it up, ‘Without Morsi’s removal from office, we would have been headed toward a fascist state, or there would have been a civil war.’
    “And that is the essence of the anti-political doctrine that worships order, fears political struggle, mistrusts popular striving, and kowtows to force majeure.”

Associated Press, Edward Snowden Has “Blueprints” to NSA:

    “Edward Snowden has highly sensitive documents on how the National Security Agency is structured and operates that could harm the U.S. government, but has insisted that they not be made public, a journalist close to the NSA leaker said.
    “Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who first reported on the intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that disclosure of the information in the documents ‘would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.’
    “He said the ‘literally thousands of documents’ taken by Snowden constitute ‘basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.'”

The Hill, Greenwald Warns Snowden Holds NSA “Blueprints”:

    “Greenwald’s latest comments come days after he warned that Snowden would release damaging information if he was not granted safe passage to asylum in a third country or if harm came to him.
    “‘Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the U.S. government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States,’ Greenwald told an Argentine newspaper last week.
    “‘The U.S. government should be on your knees every day praying that nothing happens to Snowden because if something happens, all information will be revealed and that would be their worst nightmare,’ he added.”

Washington’s Blog, The Government Is Spying On ALL Americans’ Digital and Old-Fashioned Communications.

James Fallows in The Atlantic (quoting a reader), The Impending Senate Vote on Confirming Nominees:

    “‘On the procedural level that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly gridlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s…. As a consequence, Obama cannot get anything done; he cannot even get the most innocuous appointees in office.
    “‘Yet he can assassinate American citizens without due processes…can detain prisoners indefinitely without charge; conduct surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant; and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called insider threat program). At home, this it is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal law enforcement agencies and their willing handmaidens at the state and local level. Abroad, Obama can start wars at will and pretty much engage in any other activity whatever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, to include just recently forcing down a plane containing a head of state. And not a peep from congressional Republicans, with the exception of an ineffectual gadfly like Rand Paul. Democrats, with the exception of a few like Ron Wyden, are not troubled, either….
    “‘Clearly there is government, and then there is government. The former is the tip of the iceberg…which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part is the Deep State, which operates on its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. The Deep State is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies, key nodes of the judiciary…cleared contractors, Silicon Valley (whose cooperation is critical), and Wall Street.
    “‘This combination of procedural impotence on the one hand and unaccountable government by fiat on the other is clearly paradoxical, but any honest observer of the American state must attempt to come to grips with it.'”

MJ Rosenberg, I Can’t Imagine Being the Parent of a Young Black Man:

    “In addition to all the other random dangers teens face, black kids have to worry about the cops too or pseudo cops like George Zimmerman.
    “This verdict only confirms what black parents already knew: it is not safe out there for their boys. The good thing: maybe now their sons understand what their parents are so anxious about. Black parents aren’t paranoid. They know that their boys are at risk. Everywhere. …
    “I am glad I’m not black. I just don’t have the courage for it.”

George Dvorsky in io9, 10 Mindnumbingly Futuristic Technologies That Will Appear by the 2030s.

Erroll Morris in Slate, The Murders of Gonzago:

    “Josh Oppenheimer’s film The Act of Killing…is an examination of the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66, in which between 500,000 and 1 million people died. The Act of Killing is truly unlike any other documentary film. … One of the extraordinary things about documentary is that you get to continually reinvent the form, reinvent what it means to make a documentary — and Oppenheimer did just that. He identified several of the killers from 1965 and convinced them to make a movie about the killings. But the film is even weirder than that. Oppenheimer convinced these killers to act in a movie about the making of a movie about the killings. There would be re-enactments of the murders by the actual perpetrators. There would be singing, and there would be dancing. A perverted hall of mirrors.
    “But there is method to Oppenheimer’s madness — the idea that by re-enacting the murders, he, the viewers of the movie, and the various perpetrators recruited to participate could become reconnected to a history that had nearly vanished into a crepuscular past. Oppenheimer has the optimistic thought that the past is inside us and can be brought back to life.”


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