Mali And The Taureg

Inkwell Institute

Subject:  Western Africa

This week I will focus on reports from around the world that have not made much time in our dynamite media……in these days of political games with candidates sniping at each other, spin doctors throwing lies out there for the digestion of the voter, the world keeps turning and situations keep popping up and the media has better things to do like some idiotic working Mom story or a dog tale from days past…….I thought I would just let my readers in on a few things that could change the world if not handled properly…….

There is a war going on in the Western African nation of Mali….Mali?  Who cares?  An answer that was given lately.

I know….what the Hell is Mali?  Good question and here is a short synopsis on the country……..

The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation.  When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali.  Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a military coup that ushered in a period of democratic rule.  President Alpha KONARE won Mali’s first two democratic presidential elections in 1992 and 1997.  In keeping with Mali’s two-term constitutional limit, he stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou TOURE, who was elected to a second term in 2007 elections that were widely judged to be free and fair.  A military coup overthrew the government in March 2012, claiming that the government had not adequately supported the Malian army’s fight against an advancing Tuareg-led rebellion in the north.  Heavy international pressure has forced coup leaders to accelerate the transition back to democratic rule and, to that end, Dioncounda TRAORE was installed as interim president on 12 April.

Now what is a Taureq?

The Tuareg people are a Berber people of the deserts who usually maintain a traditionally nomadic lifestyle.  Tuareg Berbers are the principal and indigenous inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa.  From the early days of colonialism the Tuareg have been fighters for their freedom….a way of life that continues today.

I have defined Mali and the Tuareg and now you, my reader,  want to know where I am going with this…..AQIM!  I know huh?  It stands for Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb.

AQIM stems from a group started in the late 1990s by hardline Algerian Islamists, who, in 2007, formally subscribed to al-Qaeda’s ideology. These fighters, numbering around 300, have spun a tight network across tribal and business lines that stretch across the Sahel, supporting poor communities and protecting traffickers.

They are comfortable operating in the harsh desert terrain and have made millions from ransoms of European hostages.

AQIM chiefs Belmokhtar, Abou Zeid and Yahya Abou Al-Hammam met with Malian Islamist leaders and are said to be staying at the Timbuktu military camp, now under rebel control.

We have all heard about AQ in Pakistan or Yemen…..but AQIM needs to be monitored heavily….if they get their way they will control a sizable tract of land in the North of Mali and could become the new training area as Afghanistan did once Sudan threw them out.  AQ could make a huge comeback if left unchecked.

The New World Of Mining?

My last day of sitting on my duff and eatinbg good food…..but science is once again in my mind…..and as we all know…I love sciencey stuff!

As we know, some of us more than others, that the resources on this planet are very limited and we will do little to see that we have enough for the future because it is more profitable to exploit those resources than to conserve…….but some guys have decided to try anyway…….

A newly unveiled company with some high-profile backers — including filmmaker James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page — has announced plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for resources such as precious metals and water.

Planetary Resources, Inc. intends to sell these materials, generating a healthy profit for itself. But it also aims to advance humanity’s exploration and exploitation of space, with resource extraction serving as an anchor industry that helps our species spread throughout the solar system.

Platinum-group metals — ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum — are found in low concentrations on Earth and can be tough to access, which is why they’re so expensive. In fact, Anderson said, they don’t occur naturally in Earth’s crust, having been deposited on our planet over the eons by asteroid impacts.

And there are a lot of precious metals up there waiting to be mined. A single platinum-rich space rock 1,650 feet (500 meters) wide contains the equivalent of all the platinum-group metals ever mined throughout human history, company officials said.

The company is not ready to break ground on an asteroid just yet. Before that can happen, it needs to do some in-depth prospecting work.

Of the roughly 8,900 known near-Earth asteroids, perhaps 100 or 150 are water-rich and easier to reach than the surface of the moon, Anderson said. Planetary Resources wants to identify and characterize these top targets before it does anything else.

To that end, it has designed a high-performance, low-cost space telescope that Anderson said should launch to low-Earth orbit within the next 18 to 24 months. This telescope will make observations of its own but also serve as a model for future instruments that will journey near promising asteroids and peer at them in great detail.

The prospecting phase should take a couple of years or so, Anderson added.

This is just a cool report…..hopefully I will be around to keep an eye on this for future posts….

Ever Ask ‘What Were They Thinking’?

The weekend and the lighter side of insanity…….put my mind in neutral and let it rip!

From time to time I have questioned the sanity of the people in my area…..their voting makes me ask, their actions make me ask…..and their driving makes me ask.  I have often said that I did not know that it was possible to drive with your head shoved up your butt…….and times I think that I am just being too critical because….after all I am an old fart……but then something occurs that makes me ask the questions all over again……..damn!  It happens again and again……

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) –

Authorities said a man is in serious condition after he reportedly hit a stopped train in Harrison County shortly after 12:30 Saturday morning.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesperson Johnny Poulos said the incident happened while a train was at a stand still when workers were fixing the railroad tracks on Highway 53.   Poulos said a man driving a Honda Civic drove into the side of the train.

The driver was transported to Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Officials said all the signal lights at the railroad intersection were flashing. This accident remains under investigation.

How far up his butt was his head to drive into a parked train?  God, I love this stuff!

Self-Deportation?

This line got a huge chuckle when Mitt Romney made it in one of the thousand GOP debates……basically it means that an illegal immigrant would voluntarily go back across the border to their home….but Mitt’s idea was that they would do this because of laws that would make it more difficult for them to find work….so without the glamor of picking lettuce they would not feel that they could find employment and that home would be a better place to be……

It seems that Mitt may have been onto something with his idea of self-deportation…..not that his idea was so scary that the illegals immediately started running for the border…….but instead the economy is the culprit……..the economy has done what so many millions of dollars could not…….Let us see how many Americans jump on those low paying picking lettuce jobs…..

From the WaPo…….

A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans now leave the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center.

It is the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent.

“I think the massive boom in Mexican immigration is over and I don’t think it will ever return to the numbers we saw in the 1990s and 2000s,” said Douglas Massey, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University and co-director of the Mexican Migration Project, which has been gathering data on the subject for 30 years.

So all those darn pesky immigrants are now returning home…..it seems that they would rather be in dangerous Juarez with a job than in the US without one…..but beyond that….if this trend holds who will the neocons  choose to demagogue if they do not have the Hispanics to pick on anymore?

Media And ‘Moral Panic’

College of Political Knowledge

A Side Note:  This post is my 5000th post…..I guess that would explain the restless nights, headaches and my fingers becoming more tired and a lot more stubby…..I would like to thank my friends, followers and readers for making my blog a joy.

Anyone that reads this blog will know that I do not care for the MSM so much……I will NEVER be a popular blog because I refuse to pile on the crap and sink to the level of  insulting the opposition with every opportunity (I have had occasion when I thought someone was speaking out their butt and call them on it and sometimes very uncomplimentary)  to me they are just another problem that has NO solution…….take for instance in the recent weeks….we have had a woman that testifies and becomes a story…..we have a teenager that is shot and killed…..and most recently we have a comment about stay at home Moms…..all three and not the only ones just the most recent have become reports that have driven the political debate….all three have turned into media gold.

These types of situations are what is known as a “moral panic”.

Moral panics are in essence controversies that involve arguments and social tension and in which disagreement is difficult because the matter at its center is taboo.   The media have long operated as agents of moral indignation, even when they are not self-consciously engaged in crusading or muckraking. Simply reporting the facts can be enough to generate concern, anxiety or panic.  (Thanx to Wikipedia)

Moral panics can be identified by these characteristics:

Moral panics have several distinct features. According to Goode and Ben-Yehuda, moral panic consists of the following characteristics:

  • Concern – There must be awareness that the behaviour of the group or category in question is likely to have a negative impact on society.
  • Hostility – Hostility towards the group in question increases, and they become “folk devils”.   A clear division forms between “them” and “us”.
  • Consensus – Though concern does not have to be nationwide, there must be widespread acceptance that the group in question poses a very real threat to society.   It is important at this stage that the “moral entrepreneurs” are vocal and the “folk devils” appear weak and disorganised.
  • Disproportionality – The action taken is disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the accused group.
  • Volatility – Moral panics are highly volatile and tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared due to a wane in public interest or news reports changing to another topic.

Moral panics occur when the media concentrates on any given problem which is then exaggerated and blown out of all proportion.  The perceived problem is depicted as being typical of a wider social disease which if unchecked will threaten our social tranquility.  Normally it involves groups that are being targeted and scapegoated and blamed for all the ills in our society.

Now think back for the last couple of weeks…..we have had a woman being called a slut and women being ostracized as a group….we have had a teenager shot and the case was already tried in the media with the help of the media….and finally, a comment made by a pundit about work and women and it has turned into a major story as well as a campaign pitch by a candidate…..these three are examples of a moral panic generated by the media….I am speaking about all the media one ideology does not have a high ground in this situation.

Let’s look at a recent situation, the most recent moral panic….a comment was made that a woman has never worked a day in her life……the story became that a stay at home Mom does not work…..this is a false but effective attack…..everyone who heard that comment knew what the pundit was saying……the media took semantics and ran with it……(please before the insults begin…I am NOT saying that being a Mother is not hard work…it is) I am only illustrating how one simple word can be turned into an effective “moral panic”.

Another illustration is the dog stories from the last week or so……the media was fixated on this instead of doing reports on the 6th anniversary of Romneycare in Mass….since the repeal of Obamacare is a priority for the GOP you would think that the model used would be a little more important than an old dog story or what breed was on the menu……

………Again a “moral panic”!

That Special Place

Inkwell Institute

Subject:  Europe

We all have that special place…the place we lived as a child or that place of the first kiss or our first sexual encounter or…..well a place that holds a special place in our hearts…..Mine is Spain…..I lived there twice in my life…once as a young teenager and then as an adult…..a place of great food, wine and beauty….and yes my first adventure in love and sexuality……..her name was Charlotte a French girl from Paris and a red head….in retrospect….that could explain my obsession with red heads…..whatcha think?  I also worked as a researcher for a Spanish newspaper….so I guess Spain is a place that I watch fondly…….

Sorry I digress into my past……but Spain is a source of concern in the existing economic upheaval around the world, but especially in the ailing European Union.

You may remember all the hub-bub over the situation in Greece….well Spain is reaching that point, as we speak……observations of Gonzalo Lira…….

Spain’s jobs-scarce economy plunged back into recession in the first quarter of 2012 as employment slumped even further, the Bank of Spain said Monday.

Barely two years after emerging from the last downturn, Spain slid into recession again with two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, the central bank said in a report.

Gross domestic product fell by an estimated 0.4-percent in the first quarter of 2012 after a 0.3-percent decline in the last three months of 2011, the bank said.

Spain, whose unemployment rate at the end of 2011 was already the highest in the industrialised world at 22.85 percent overall and nearly 50 percent for the young, suffered a further sharp jobs decline.

The government forecasts the jobless rate will rise to 24.3 percent this year as the sagging economy struggles to absorb millions of jobs destroyed in the collapse of a property boom in 2008.

The European Central Bank had helped to ease market tensions, Spain’s bank said, alluding to the ECB’s decision to extend more than one trillion euros in low-interest, three-year loans to the region’s banks.

Spain’s economic woes are just the beginning…..and with their propensity for protests and not always the calmest of situations….. I look for rising violence and the new government, elected last year, to fall and chaos will reign…..kind of like Greece……

If this happens and I think it will what will happen to the country?

An opinion is that they will exit the Euro on a dead run……..

With a 24% unemployment rate that is rising, and over half of the young people unemployed, no politician in his right mind—especially a nationalist—will decide that even more austerity is the cure for the disease. One thing is cutting off the fat—it’s quite another to be cutting to the bone.

For Rajoy and de Guindos, it will be simpler to exit the eurozone, go back to the peseta, and devalue by 20% to 30% right off.

It is always easier for a politician to cut expenditures via devaluation than via nominal spending cuts. Since the Eurocrats won’t allow a 20-30% devaluation of the euro, and since Spain cannot really cut any more or find any more money in the bond markets, then the only thing left for it to do is devalue a currency that it controls.

On a personal note…..I would not cry over Spain leaving the EU….I remember it from my youth and would like to see a Spain that can be enjoyed and not feel like I was held at gunpoint by the EU.

The Mensa Bowl It Ain’t!

There are times when I ask the sanity or at least the intelligence of our politicians……I mean listen to the crap flying out of the mouths of idiots….and NO I am not speaking solely of the GOP…the Dems are just as guilty as anyone…..is it a plan to be speaking obscurities or is it just a lack of mental power?  Or maybe it is a lack of mental discipline?

Doug Hanchard writing for ZDNet………

Are we getting the best bang for the buck from our elected officials? Do existing politicians have the smarts we need to run the country? Would an IQ test raise the bar and attract better candidates to hold office? The answer to those questions and others is unclear and if any recent testing is any indication of what we witness may surprise you.

An accurate and repeatable result isn’t proof in the pudding and while IQ tests may rate an individual intelligence, it is a poor barometer to gauge one’s ability to be an elected official. President Obama (who’s well educated) in his State of the Union speech stated that funding education is a priority. In recent years, there has also been a demand by state and provincial governments, that teachers should also be better educated and tested regularly.  Some would argue that we need to do the same with our elected officials since many would suggest that we have some very …fill in the blank… elected people governing. Is this an argument to suggest we need smarter elected officials? Would an IQ test be a good litmus test?

Personally, I think they should…..or at least be given a civics test to see if they realize what it means to be a citizen of the greatest country on earth……I tire of all the freedom talk and inaction….. they are pissing all over people’s freedoms/rights.  I do not agree with everything the Dems are saying and doing and I definitely do not approve of the policies that most Repubs are pursuing……I realize that according to the Constitution the majority gets to name the game to be played in Washington….but should not the people we send to Washington be working on what is best for the people of the country and leave all privacy issues to the privacy of the person’s discretion?

In a time when millions are unemployed and millions more struggling to exist………I believe there are more important issues to focus on than what a woman does with her vagina or a new name for a Post office  or who shot who and why…..our Congress is polling at about 8% approval….my question is who are this 8%?  My guess would be lobbyists and their staff and the Congress and theirs……..everybody else seems to think that they are a bunch of do nothing clowns……

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the GOP loses the 2012 general….will there be a re-calibration of the party and will it keep plugging along as it is doing today?

These people we have elected are NOT doing the job they were sent to Washington to do….then why do we keep electing the same or the same-like people time after time?