black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

“As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako - who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.”
“Could ethical concerns ultimately drive public acceptance of the new food technology? Cor van der Weele, Professor of Humanistic Philosophy at Wageningen University, is convinced that’s the case, with artificial meat at least. “People will see the moral benefits of cultured meats. Taking stem cells from a pig rather than killing millions of pigs in factories is already a more attractive idea to consumers.” She quotes studies of the viability of growing meat in sunlight-fuelled “bio-reactors” placed in desert areas: the reduction in resources is staggering. “It would require 1% of the land and just 2% of the water that traditional meat production does. And it would involve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases,” she says.

Eating real meat in 2035 could be as morally questionable as eating foie gras – and about as expensive. As Dr Mark Post says: “A meat-eater with a bicycle is much more environmentally unfriendly than a vegetarian with a Hummer.””
Dear Guardian, Where's the Transparency?

UPDATE: I just received an email from the Guardian with a link to this article, as a response to my (and others’) criticism of an article on the Norway massacre which initially suggested (strongly) that Islamist groups were the responsible party and then entirely reworded it, as though the original article never happened.  

As part of their defense, they claim that:

The basic rule on the Guardian website is that simple changes within the first 24 hours don’t require a footnote unless they are egregious – after that they do.”

Simple changes require complete rewrites? These changes were anything but simple, why else would you rewrite every single word, including the title?

"Perhaps in this case, rather than changing the article online, it would have been better for the newsdesk to add a footnote and a link to the later version."

"Perhaps"? I guess this is what we’re supposed to take away as the apology. Thanks for the altogether lame response, Guardian.

“Society can give its young men almost any job and they’ll figure how to do it. They’ll suffer for it and die for it and watch their friends die for it, but in the end, it will get done. That only means that society should be careful about what it asks for. … Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war, but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.”
Sebastian Junger, War, as quoted by the wonderful been thinking…
Dear Guardian, Where's the Transparency?

The Guardian, one of my favorite papers which I often quote here, has completely re-written an article on the Oslo tragedy originally titled, Oslo Bomb: Suspicion Falls on Islamist Militantsby Peter Beaumont, the foreign affairs editor for their sister paper, The Observer. I quoted an excerpt here on Friday at 9:22am, shortly after it was written. At the time, the responsible party was unknown and news of the shooting was just being broken. Mr. Beaumont offered his “expert” opinion on who could be responsible in an article that pointed all fingers to Islamist groups.

It has been known for some time that al-Qaida and other related “franchises” – including the most active groups in Yemen – have been trying to develop operations. Which leads to a second question: why Norway? 

The answer is threefold. In the first instance, with increased levels of security and surveillance in the UK and the US as well as other European capitals, Norway might have been seen as a softer target despite the recent breaking up of an al-Qaida cell in Norway. […]

A second possible factor behind the attack is a Norwegian newspaper’s reprinting in 2006 of a series of Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, which prompted threats against the country.

A third potential explanation is the decision last week by a Norwegian prosecutor to file terror charges against an Iraqi-born cleric for threatening to kill Norwegian politicians if he is deported.

Not only has that excerpt been wiped in its entirety and the title replaced with, Norway Attacks Suggest Political Motive, the central theme of the article, which prematurely blamed Islamist extremists has been re-written as:

The re-appearance of an apparently large scale and co-ordinated terrorist attack in a European capital raises the inevitable questions of who was behind it. The most tempting and immediate conclusion was that it would be a jihadist group, as the style of the Oslo attack bore strong similarities to other earlier attacks in Europe and elsewhere. […] 

Nowhere is the phrase, “As I reported/speculated earlier”.

It’s especially interesting in the light of a new article by Charlie Brooker, The News Coverage of the Norway Mass-Killings was Fact-Free Conjecture:

Let’s be absolutely clear, it wasn’t experts speculating, it was guessers guessing – and they were terrible. […] 

In the aftermath of the initial bombing, they proceeded to wrestle with the one key question: why do Muslims hate Norway?

Luckily, the experts were on hand to expertly share their expert solutions to plug this apparent plot hole in the ongoing news narrative. Why do Muslims hate Norway? There had to be a reason. Norway was targeted because of its role in Afghanistan. Norway was targeted because Norwegian authorities had recently charged an extremist Muslim cleric. Norway was targeted because one of its newspapers had reprinted the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Norway was targeted because, compared to the US and UK, it is a “soft target” – in other words, they targeted it because no one expected them to. 

I expect this behavior from lower papers, not from you. What gives, Guardian?

©2011 Kateoplis