This fortnight, I have been mostly reading:
- The Frontman of Empire: How Bono’s “Activism” Serves the Powerful — Alan Macleod at MintPress News:
Since his first major foray into activism at the 1984 Live Aid concert (where much of the money raised reportedly went to buy weapons for the Ethiopian military), Bono has become an almost ubiquitous face in the halls of power, being invited to speak at a host of elite events on poverty, including the Munich Security Conference, the G8 summit, the World Bank and at the World Economic Forum. There, he is usually treated as the voice of Africa and an intellectual and moral powerhouse helping to solve the world’s most pressing humanitarian problems. Yet critics would say that, far from helping the poor and challenging power, he has instead bolstered it. As Browne wrote: “Bono has been, more often than not, amplifying elite discourses, advocating ineffective solutions, patronizing the poor, and kissing the arses of the rich and powerful. He has been generating and reproducing ways of seeing the developing world, especially Africa, that are no more than a slick mix of traditional missionary and commercial colonialism, in which the poor world exists as a task for the rich world to complete.”
- Uvalde Police Didn’t Move to Save Lives Because That’s Not What Police Do — Natasha Lennard at the Intercept:
The behavior of the police at Robb Elementary is only shocking if you are committed to a mythic notion of what policing entails. The “thin blue line” does not, as reactionary narratives would have it, separate society from violent chaos. This has never been what police do, since the birth of municipal policing in slave patrols and colonial counterinsurgencies. The “thin blue line” instead separates those empowered by the state to uphold racial capitalism with violence, and to do so with impunity. It is disgusting, not shocking, that police officers would sooner harass and handcuff parents — parents begging them to save their children from a massacre — than they would run in and put themselves in the line of fire. What is striking, though, is how inconceivable it is to so many people that policing is not, in fact, what they’ve been told it is by the police themselves, by those in power, and by the mainstream culture built around those mutually reinforcing myths.
- Via Bruce Sterling:
- AUKUS is not about defending Australia but a possible US attack on China — Mike Gilligan in Pearls and Irritations:
Where might it end? John Lander, former Australian ambassador to Iran and Deputy Ambassador to China, offers professional insights. He sees the Wolfawitz doctrine of 1992 as still influencing US security policy– its aim being to prevent any national power becoming a challenge to US. He argues that the “US has defined China as its principal threat and is working on the strategy of denial so as to instigate a war between Taiwan and China. Arm Taiwan to the hilt, conduct a vilification campaign against China to make it the aggressor in the eyes of the world, encourage Taiwan to separate itself from China and thus instigate a war”. That’s a big call, by an astute observer. Nuclear escalation by an aggrieved, thwarted China could not be ruled out. The US would probably judge it had no choice but to respond in kind. But could the battle be confined to tactical nuclear weapons which merely vaporise aircraft carriers? US planners might not be deterred by China’s strategic nuclear arsenal – outnumbered as it is and lacking the layered countermeasures of the US. Yet let’s not forget that China could obliterate Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in a salvo before breakfast, and still have plenty to take its chances with the US. Why should Australia deploy submarines to fight China for Taiwan? It is not required by the ANZUS treaty. We do not see Taiwan as a nation state. Nor does any respected nation. Taiwan was and remains in international law a province of China. It is not geo-strategically important to us. We have no evidence that China has plans to attack Australia. Nor has China the conventional capability to do so. Evidence does exist that China is growing its own defences, centred on its vulnerability to nuclear decapitation by the US. And its maritime forces including power projection are growing. That is largely explained by a frail base, its focus on Taiwan, claims to adjacent seas, long vital sea lanes and longstanding issues with neighbours including Japan. It is frivolous to give weight to speculation beyond sober intelligence of the China military reality. Yet our government is on the path to joining a fight with China in China’s waters seven thousand kilometres away. For a US objective of global primacy essentially.
- Elon Musk Is Not a Renegade Outsider – He’s a Massive Pentagon Contractor — Alan Macleod, who is apparently on a bit of a myth-busting bender at MintPress News:
From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech. Griffin was with Musk virtually from day one, accompanying him to Russia in February 2002, where they attempted to purchase cut-price intercontinental ballistic missiles to start Musk’s business. Musk felt that he could substantially undercut opponents by using second-hand material and off-the-shelf components for launches. The attempt failed, but the trip cemented a lasting partnership between the pair, with Griffin going to war for Musk, consistently backing him as a potential “Henry Ford” of the rocket industry. Three years later, Griffin would become head of NASA and later would hold a senior post at the Department of Defense. While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.
- Non Sequitur — by Wiley Miller:
- Privatising Your Ancestors — Mihail Evans at Tribune:
Ancestry.com want your family photos. They want you to upload them to their website so others tracing their family history can have highly prized images to add to the family trees created from searching historical records. But once they are on their system, they will be charging others to access them without offering you anything. They are effectively hoping to privatise the family albums of the nation, just another field ripe for monetisation. This is the obvious next step for what is, in effect, Big Genealogy. In the last decade or so, almost wholly unremarked, they have already privatised swathes of the public records of the UK. This has largely happened as a result of austerity, when cash-strapped local authorities pressed to digitise have done so on the cheap by handing over the contents of county record offices, built up over centuries, to these massive multinationals.
- Anti-Trans Bills Are Driving a New Moral Panic — Claire Potter in Public Seminar:
Over the weekend, I learned that Republican legislators in that state have jammed through H.B. 151, a bill that imagines a shocking, new attack on women’s right to privacy. […] And here is the creepy part. H.B. 151 permits any person to identify an athlete (this would be a female athlete, of course) as potentially being trans. The accusation would result in immediately pulling that athlete from competition and forcing her to submit to a visual examination of her genitals, as well as a pelvic exam to determine that she has ovaries and a uterus. Should this exam be inconclusive, that girl would be forced to take a chromosome test and have her testosterone level measured. If that girl is deemed not female for any reason—and there are many biological and chromosomal variations even among those who present as, and believe themselves to be, gender normative—her team would have to forfeit any competition she played in. […] In other words, the same GOP that doesn’t want girls to have sex at all is totally fine with children and teenagers having their clitorises measured, enduring a stranger’s fingers forcibly probing their vaginas, and being publicly humiliated in front of the entire school should any genetic or physical attribute appear to be “not normal.”
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal — by Zach Weinersmith: