The current conflict between Israel and Hamas has highlighted some interesting trends for future conflicts that have alternative media outlets in a frenzy. Quite obviously, it is a continuation of the modern mode of armed conflict, namely, hostilities between a sovereign government and a non-governmental military organization, in this case, Hamas. These non-governmental military organizations are often labeled terrorists somewhat opportunistically by the governments against whom they wage war. This label allows governments to take a wide range of actions that would be entirely unacceptable if taken against another sovereign government.
More interesting, however are the various videos posted to YouTube by the Israel Defense Forces. The videos are quite clearly propaganda, which is to be expected from any government currently engaged in a bloody conflict with a bordering entity. Propaganda has a derisive connotation, but it is, in fact, an objective term for information spread by any organization with a goal, especially when that information could be said to advance the goal in question.
The videos released by Israel outline the methods they use to avoid civilian casualties when targeting Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip. These videos, however, are not the sole attempts to control the flow of information during this bloody conflict. Hamas has also taken to social media, albeit Twitter, to affect the information-gathering process.
After Israel released the video detailing efforts to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas took to twitter to send out images of women and children killed by Israeli operations. That said, it has been brought up by at least one media outlet that a picture Hamas intimated was a product of their current fight with Israel was proven to be from the conflict in Syria.
That this conflict is getting bloody is not, in itself, surprising. The more interesting factor here is the use of online videos to control the flow of information. Welcome to the 21st century.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to commemorate the departure of Ron Paul (R-Texas) from the United States House of Representatives.
After almost thirty years as a member of The House, Paul has announced his retirement and will no longer represent the Lone Star State’s 14th district. The man who has for some time been the sole voice of fiscal responsibility and the lone Republican critic of a variety of wayward government policies (especially economic, judicial, foreign policies) left the chamber with a speech (transcript here, video below) that served as a summation of his career in Congress. Ron Paul will be missed.
Paul made several runs at the highest office in the United States. Despite a groundswell of grassroots support, he never received his party’s nomination and, by the time he made his last bid for head of the Executive Branch, he was considered a fringe candidate without much real chance at the nomination, much less winning an election. It can be surmised that Paul never cared about receiving the nomination — he knew his candidacies were long shots — but they offered him the best opportunity from which to spread his singular message. He seized those opportunities with purposeful integrity.
What set Ron Paul apart from his colleagues in Congress was that he actually cared deeply about his message. He believed in the words he spoke into microphones. One would be hard-pressed to mount an informed argument against that.
That this commitment to principle is such a rarity in among American politicians in regrettable, but it is a topic for another piece. We are here to salute a man who stood strong to his values of reduced government spending and who went to great lengths to do what, in his mind, would strengthen the American dollar and ensure a secure financial future for younger generations. A profile in Texas Monthly describes Paul: “both deeply principled and wholly uncompromised. He does not bend with the political winds. He does not take money from corporate PACs. Lobbyists cannot sway him; to try is a waste of time. He never bargains with his own deeply held beliefs, nor does he cut backroom deals.” The same profile recounts the amazing statistic that, from 1995-1997, Paul cast two-thirds of the solitary negative votes in the House of Representatives.
Would it be too much to ask for future congresspeople to look to Paul as a model for their own political behavior? Of course it is. Would it be crazy to think that voters might hold future politicians to the standard Paul set for himself? Of course it would. And that is at the center of what Paul spent his political career railing against: sub-par politicians creating sub-par policies by appealing to voters’ sub-par understanding of the political process.
Ron Paul will be missed.
Here is another selection of powerful photographs coming out of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. As you enjoy the pictures do not only take them in for their obvious aesthetic value, but also make sure to keep in mind that people are still suffering and need help. You can help them by donating to the individuals and organizations dedicating themselves to hurricane assistance in the aftermath of the storm. See the final picture for how.
1. A 168-foot tanker is beached in Staten Island, New York the day after Sandy hit.
2. A man surveys the damage at a beer store in lower Manhattan, New York. Sandy caused damage to small business across NYC.
3. Cars float in the entrance of a parking garage in the Financial District of Manhattan.
4. A gigantic tree is uprooted in a residential area of Washington, D.C.
5. Remember to donate to those helping the victims of Superstorm Sandy.
As you may have heard, Hurricane Sandy barreled through New York City on Monday & Tuesday, leaving in it’s wake a degree of destruction that the area had not seen in some time. Here are a number of powerful pictures of the damage left behind, with some words to guide you through it all.
1. The Storm
An image of Sandy from high up in the atmosphere. This storm would eventually be over 1,000 miles wide and would force snow into Kentucky.
2. The Damage: Vehicles
These vehicles were submerged in the Financial District of New York City on Tuesday. New York City began the unenviable task of returning to daily life after Hurricane Sandy killed 10 people, started a fire that destroyed 80 homes, flooded the the largest and most expansive network of subway tunnels in the United States of America, and caused 750,000 customers to lose power, especially those in lower Manhattan.
3. The Damage: The Taxis
With the subway systems closed, New Yorkers need as many cabs as possible to be available.
4. The Damage: the Subways
Some experts say the Subway system will remain closed for up to 20 days. New Yorkers’ day-to-day life has been drastically altered.
5. The Dammage: The Trees
New York City, not necessarily known for its flora (or fauna), has had it’s share of uprooted trees over the past 3 days.
By this point in the election stretch-run committed Democrats’ fingernails are gone, having long been gnawed down to the raw pink flesh that is exposed to the elements only every four years. Yes, these peaceful transfers of power—the pride and joy of democracy in America—wreak havoc on politic junkies’ personal health and hygiene. It’s part of the beauty, actually; no other spectator sport in America affects us so physically.
But this year it’s worse.
After the Republican party chose to nominate a Polygamist Robot and a Maniac with Good Hair as candidates for president, Democrats worldwide let out a sigh of relief and headed off to yoga class. They had this one in the bag. Democrats don’t need much of a memory to remember what happens when you nominate a flip-flopping and wealthy politician from Massachusetts and a young idealist with a $400 haircut to run against the President of the United States. You lose handily, no questions asked. Incumbents have the advantage, especially against robots.
As Democrats gathered around coffee tables adorned with micro-brewed beers and gluten-free pretzels to watch the first presidential debate, there was a palpable sense of victory in the air. With their team heavily favored and playing at home—and the Republicans starting a backup Quarterback—the assumption was that Obama emerging victorious and flashing his million-dollar smile was all but a given.
What followed was horrific. The free-range pretzels sat and staled while wide-mouthed democrats lost their appetites watching Obama punt on every possession. Three-and-out after three-and-out after three-and-out. Obama looked inexperienced and unprepared, like Russel Williams against the Packers, only this time the replacement refs weren’t around to bail anybody out. The President forfeited this one.
For a man widely considered to be a pro-bowl orator, a losing streak against Romney would be nothing short of devastating. Obama’s back is against the wall; he has no choice but to come out with his cross hairs fixed on his opponent’s shortcomings: vague policies painted with a broad stroke, an articulated distaste for almost half of the country, and a depressingly humorless disposition. For Obama, tonight is a must-win. Failing to secure victory here means that, in a best-case scenario, Obama comes out of his three debates with a 33% winning percentage. And if that’s the case, he can kiss his lame-duck postseason goodbye.