I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
Well Newshoggers has closed it's doors so Middle Earth Journal is active once again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bits and Pieces

After yesterday's Congressional pyrotechnics display this morning's news seems tame by comparison. 
►As we wait for the media finally to begin paying serious attention to the North African part of MENA, here are a few links that caught my eye this morning.
You Tube has an interesting collection of videos from "no-comment TV" but I was not able to find an embed code.
This link will get you a good video. 

►Taking his cue from one of Joe Biden's not-so-sotto-voce remarks, Paul Krugman suggests the name Big Deal for Barack Obama's agenda, a latter-day echo of FDR's New Deal.
All in all, then, the Big Deal has been, well, a pretty big deal. But will its achievements last?
Mr. Obama overcame the biggest threat to his legacy simply by winning re-election. But George W. Bush also won re-election, a victory widely heralded as signaling the coming of a permanent conservative majority. So will Mr. Obama’s moment of glory prove equally fleeting? I don’t think so.
For one thing, the Big Deal’s main policy initiatives are already law. This is a contrast with Mr. Bush, who didn’t try to privatize Social Security until his second term — and it turned out that a “khaki” election won by posing as the nation’s defender against terrorists didn’t give him a mandate to dismantle a highly popular program.
And there’s another contrast: the Big Deal agenda is, in fact, fairly popular — and will become more popular once Obamacare goes into effect and people see both its real benefits and the fact that it won’t send Grandma to the death panels.
Finally, progressives have the demographic and cultural wind at their backs. Right-wingers flourished for decades by exploiting racial and social divisions — but that strategy has now turned against them as we become an increasingly diverse, socially liberal nation.

►I want to think that after yesterday's so-called "hearings" (I saw one Twitter suggestion they should be called "Talkings" since those who are supposed to be hearing do more talking than listening) that l'affair Benghazi can finally be put to bed.  Time will tell.
To tie up a loose end, one tidbit should be noted for the record, the business about smuggling Libyan arms to Turkey, mentioned during Rand Paul's insolent outburst (which my guess made the Secretary of State want to out him for breaching classified material in public, the kind of behavior that put Bradley Manning and Julian Assange in jail).
Last year in a long, link-filled post, Josh Landis already covered this circumstantial possibility.
Since that much is already public, I can safely say that the GOP's knee-jerk reaction to what happened in Benghazi is nothing short of the same kind of duplicity that takes remarks like "You didn't build that" and now "What difference does it make" out of context simply for political agitprop.
Nuff about that.


► Tomorrow, January 25, marks the two-year anniversary of the uprising of the Egyptian democrats who finally brought the Mubarak era to an end. Much has happened in the intervening two years, but as a reminder to part of the bitter price paid to achieve that victory, check out this moving collection of photos in The Egyptian Independent
Hundreds of Egyptian citizens lost their eyesight during the events of the Egyptian revolution that began on 25 January 2011 and continued 18 months, until the first president was elected.
In an attempt to abort the rallies and frighten away demonstrators, security forces shot at their eyes, killing some and wounding many.
This work follows the survivors of these attacks, whose lives have changed drastically. Some have lost friends, others are ashamed to go outside and others rely on family for support.

Reda Abdel Aziz, 20, worked as a tuk tuk driver. He lost both his eyes on 20 November 2011 after being shot by police during clashes with demonstrators on Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square.Demonstrators were demanding free elections and that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces step down. In the clashes, 21 demonstrators were killed and thousands were wounded, with many injuries in the eyes and chest. The incident prompted the rights group Amnesty International to demand the total halt of export of weapons and tear gas to Egypt.

►Are you ready for this?
Details at the link. Read it for yourself.
I'm reminded of the complaint someone had about a TV show they found objectionable and were forced to sit there and watch that filth for an hour. 

►**CREDIT FOR EXTRA READING**

Media reports from Africa will refer to the Tauregs or Taureg people.
These are an identifiable population in the Sahel long before Africa was discovered, exploited and artificially mapped by mostly European colonial powers. The map of Africa, like most post-colonial maps, shows boundaries which are geo-political constructs which often had more to do with colonial ambitions than  the historic and cultural realities within those boundaries.
Tauregs, like nomadic peoples in many parts of the world, are having to adapt to historical realities over which they have little control. But unlike the indigenous people of North America they are not likely to be victims of genocide.
These are my preliminary impressions. I am by no means an expert, but I'm smart enough to do my homework. Here are some links for curious readers.

==>  Tuareg people from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Areas where significant numbers of Tuareg live 

The Tuareg people inhabit a large area, covering almost all the middle and western Sahara and the north-central Sahel. In Tuareg terms, the Sahara is not one desert but many, so they call it Tinariwen ("the Deserts"). Among the many deserts in Africa, there is the true desert Ténéré. Other deserts are more and less arid, flat and mountainous: Adrar, Tagant, Tawat (Touat) Tanezrouft, Adghagh n Fughas, Tamasna, Azawagh, Adar, Damargu, Tagama, Manga, Ayr, Tarramit (Termit), Kawar, Djado, Tadmait, Admer, Igharghar, Ahaggar, Tassili n'Ajjer, Tadrart, Idhan, Tanghart, Fezzan, Tibesti, Kalansho, Libyan Desert, etc.
While there is little conflict about the driest parts of Tuareg territory, many of the water sources and pastures they need for cattle breeding get fenced off by absentee landlords, impoverishing some Tuareg communities. There is also an unresolved land conflict about many stretches of farm land just south of the Sahara. Tuareg often also claim ownership over these lands and over the crop and property of the impoverished Rimaite-people, farming them.

==>   Google images of Taureg people.

==>  Tuaregs: 5 Things You Need to Know

==>  TRIBAL AFRICAN ART -- TUAREG (TOUAREG) -- Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Libya, Burkina Faso and Niger
Many Tuareg starved in droughts in the 1970s, and others have migrated to cities. After leather, wood is perhaps the most important material in Saharan daily life, and is used for the poles and beams of the nomads’ tents on which are hung bags, saddles, bows and whips, as well as bed frames, dishes, cups, milking bowls, spoons, mortars and pestles. Among the Tuareg elegantly sculpted cushion supports (ehel) are important items in any well-appointed household. They were carved by members of the guild known as enaden, blacksmiths who have been instrumental in the creation of precisely those things that have forever distinguished the upper classes of the society from the many vassal populations of the Tuareg world. Ehel form part of the basic furnishing found in any upper-class Tuareg’s tent. Ehel are used to pin the mat-woven walls against the exterior tent-poles.

Nouriel Roubini And Ian Bremmer Talk About A Bunch Of Stuff That They're Worried About
Two of the smartest talking heads anywhere.
More fun than the networks.
...Obama's inauguration speech at the beginning of the week that he made very clear we are ending our war on terror and moving the troops out…This was the "I Have a Drone" speech, so on Martin Luther King Day.