Bird’s Eye: Is the TSA tragedy or farce? Tough call, that one. The opening infographic underlines the amount of money spent without any increase in safety. But we salute John Brennen, “naked American hero” for his stark act of resistance to the TSA. Juan Cole updates us on Syria, the Guardian brings some good news from Libya, and a fascinating look at a whole new way of news reporting: twitter aggregating. Do look at that: I guarantee you’ve never seen any news story quite like it before.
* Infographic: TSA – Grope & Pillage The FloorGem Blog
* “Naked American Hero” on Trial—Not Guilty! Blogtown, PDX
Not guilty! The judge ruled this afternoon that protester John Brennan is not guilty of incident exposure charges for stripping down at the PDX security station. The issue basically came down to whether Brennan’s striptease was meant to be a protest or whether, as the state’s prosecuting attorney argued, he retroactively claimed it was a protest to get off the hook for whipping off his clothes. Since “symbolic” nudity is protected as free speech under state law, the judge determined that Brennan’s derobing was a legitimate protest.
* Top Ten Implications of the Damascus Bombing Juan Cole Informed Comment
What does this bombing mean for Syria and the Middle East?
1. It demonstrates that the rebels have sympathizers in high positions within the regime. The bomb had to have been planted by an insider. This situation reminds me of the American dilemma in Vietnam, where we now know that many high-ranking Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) officers were in fact sympathizers with the Communists and basically double agents.
2. It follows upon this conclusion that the al-Assad regime is unlikely to be able to emulate the Algerian military, which crushed the Islamic Salvation Front in a brutal civil war from 1992 through the early zeroes of the present century. Some 150,000 Algerians are said to have died in the dirty war, with atrocities on both sides. But when the smoke cleared, the junta was still in control, and its favored secular civilians were in office. In all that time, the Muslim fundamentalist opposition never laid a glove on any of the high officials or officers. But the Algerian elite closed ranks against the Islamic Salvation Front, having a cultural set of affinities and a common source of patronage in the state-owned oil and gas sector.
If the rebels in Syria can reach into the Security HQ this way, and assassinate the highest security officials of the regime, that ability does not augur well for Bashar al-Assad’s ability to win the long game, as his counterparts did in Algeria.
Analysis: It’s interesting to look at the Reddit report, and then compare that to a traditional news report from the CBC (the publicly-funded broadcaster in Canada). The one on Reddit doesn’t look or read anything like a normal news story — instead of names, it has links to tweets and individual Twitter accounts, and there isn’t much of a story at all, just a recitation of facts or alleged facts. The CBC story has the names and ages of the victims, as well as some quotes from the police about gang violence, a quote from a friend of one of the deceased, and some eyewitness reports from the scene.
That said, however, the Reddit version also has a lot of things the CBC version doesn’t: for example, it has some tweets from people attending the party about the potential for violence — before the shooting even occurs. It also uses messages posted by those involved to talk about the shooting being part of a possible gang war, including links to individual tweets from people threatening more violence, as well as tweets and YouTube videos posted by members of a gang that one of the victims was apparently associated with.
While the format of the Reddit story may be more difficult to read, it also makes the story a lot easier to fact-check while you are reading, since any reader can simply click on a link and see the message or user profile that the author is basing their statement on (in one case, the Reddit post has a link to a screen-capture of a tweet that has since been removed). The CBC story has no links whatsoever. And while the traditional news story simply makes statements without providing any evidence other than an interview with police, the Redditor uses words like “apparently” and “I can’t be sure.”
* Mahmoud Jibril, A Force For Moderation In Libya The Guardian
Sitting in a cafe across from the square’s imposing Ottoman palace, Saad Kamur explained that he had voted for Mahmoud Jibril in Libya’s historic election. Jibril, a 60-year-old US-educated political scientist, appears to have won a landslide victory in the poll on Saturday, defying predictions that Islamists would sweep to power in Libya, as they have done elsewhere.
“He’s moderate. And experienced,” Kamur said. “I don’t think the others were capable of running a government.” Kamur, a Tripoli businessman, said observers who predicted that Libya would go the way of Egypt and Tunisia – now run by religious parties – had misinterpreted the national mood, and Libya’s prevailing centrism.
“Libyans are open to the outside world. Many have studied abroad. They haven’t seen anything positive yet from Islamist governments,” he suggested. As for the election, in which he cast his first ever vote at the rather belated age of 52, he said: “Nobody imagined it would go this smoothly.”