Monday, November 29, 2010

Some wikis

Over the afternoon coffee, I spent some time reading a couple of cables from the too much praised Wikis:

The myth of the united Middle East and Mubarak's advice to John Kerry: don't leave Iraq now !
The political negotiations in Tel Aviv, after the elections and the cronic incapacity of the Palestinians to inspire credibility
The nuclear tactics of Iran
Erdogan simply hates Israel
The intricate and personal relationships of the Israeli minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman and his friends from Moscow
Sending American advices to Hamas via Qatar

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On Wikis

For the moment, a couple of links with the hottest feed-backs and information about the releases:

NYTimes interactive and the explanation

The round-up story
Dealing with gossips - where is the relevance for the public interest?
Are we interested about anything but nothing?
Investigations in Australia
Israel in the cables

I am off for the moment, for reading some Wikis, of course.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Short break

For a couple of days I've been a bit focused on other interesting and challenging writing and editing projects. As I have a very personal deadline for finishing my book on diplomacy and 2.0, here will be my favorite playground for the next 30 days. Stay tunned for charming and smart analysis of foreign affairs!
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New WikiLeaks to be released soon!

Logo used by WikileaksImage via Wikipedia

The diplomats all over the world are on high level of alert these days, preparing for the release of 3 million documents of WikiLeaks. For the representatives of the institutions, the revelations will be harmful, with possible consequences, as it happened in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, on the general security environment in the area. For the "civil society" representatives, it is a fight won in the support of transparency and will offer them the basis for requesting more accountable government.
For the moment, I am waiting to read and analyse myself - if enough time - the documents. I am curious what new information will be revealed, for example, in the case of Libya (most specific, the Lockerbie issue) or what will find out more about the negotiations in the Middle East. And this is a matter of pure curiosity.
As equally pure curiosity is involved when I am thinking about the ways in which (not fully mysterious given the intense information process taking place in the last days between Washington and the capital cities of important allies) those documents reached and continue to reach the open space of the "leaks". I agree that governments should be accountable for their decisions in the front of the public opinion. But, in the same time, I don't think that, if you publish million of documents on the web you contribute to increase the public awareness about a certain situation. Most part of the people will not have time to read them all, and even more will not be able to read them correctly. WikiLeaks is gaining popularity but this is all. From the point of view of the world, not too much.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Use and misuse of social media

Free twitter badgeImage via Wikipedia
The use and abuse of Twitter and other social media tools, with some examples from the campaign of the last mid-term elections, in The Atlantic. This article was a good wake-up emergency call reminding me that I am very much beyond my working schedule for my book about politics, diplomacy and 2.0. Shame on me...
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Writing about Tea Party

This is the first comprehensive book about the Tea Party movement, written by somebody involved directly in the whole phenomenon. I registered for receiving a preview, so I am not yet qualified to say more about it. Biased or not, supporters or not of the Tea Party, for somebody interested in the current trends in American politics, we have to read it and be able to analyse it critically.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

The brother Facebook

Facebook logoImage via Wikipedia
The Islamist alternative to Facebook: Ikhwan Book, the "book" of Muslim Brotherhood, the radical religious opposition banned in Egypt, with the logo "One world unites us". 
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Another sad week for the human rights

MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11:  Ai Weiwei, one ...Ai Weiwei - Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Some outlines:
Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist and activist was confined to house arrest in Beijing, preventing him to go to Shanghai, were he expected to take part to an event this Sunday marking the decision of authorities to destroy his art studio. 
The fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman condemned to stoning in Iran, is still unknown. 
Narsin Sotoudeh, the proeminent Iranian lawyer who defended members of the opposition and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, is on hunger strike. This September, she was arrested by the Iranian authorities under the accusation of "acting against the national security".
Cuba, Iran and North Korea, honorable members of the UN Human Rights Council, harshly criticized human rights records in the United States. 
It is already enough for one single week.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Focus of the day: Tea Party – What it’s behind a cup of American tea

A Tea Party protest in Hartford, Connecticut, ...Image via Wikipedia

Grass-roots movement or political protest? A historical legacy of the American history reevaluated or successful brand used symbolically to solve political contradiction?

Grass-roots movement or political protest? A historical legacy of the American history reevaluated or successful brand used symbolically to solve political contradiction?

The beginnings

The name "Tea Party" refered to the Boston Tea Party, a direct action started by colonists in Boston from the then British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government. On December 16, 1773, after officials from here refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.

The action was the latest manifestation of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1773, considered a violation of the right to be taxed only by the own elected representatives.

The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution, who began near Boston in 1775.

The never ending revolution(s)

The label Tea Party has often been applied to other political protests, with different effects and political agendas. When Mohandas K. Gandhi led a mass burning of Indian registration cards in South Africa in 1908, a British newspaper compared the event to the Boston Tea Party. At the beginning of November 2010, representatives of Israeli Likud created a „tea party“ meeting protesting theagainst the policies of president Barack Obama. In Australia, the T.E.A. Party, self-assessed as a non-political movement, encloses the acronym: “Tax Enough Already”.

American activists from a variety of political viewpoints have invoked the Tea Party as a symbol of protest, but the senses differed of the original understanding. In 1973, on the 200th anniversary of the Tea Party, a mass meeting at Faneuil Hall called for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon and protested oil companies in the ongoing oil crisis. Afterwards, protesters boarded a replica ship in Boston Harbor, hanged Nixon in effigy, and dumped several empty oil drums into the harbor.

In 2006, a libertarian political party called the "Boston Tea Party" was founded, but without a significant further political involvement. In 2007, the Republican Ron Paul held a „Tea Party”on the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, and raised the record sum of $6.04 million in 24 hours.

In early 2009, a series of citizen gatherings called "Tea Parties" began to protest recent increases in government spending, particularly in President Obama's budget and economic stimulus package.

The new parties

On January 19, 2009, Graham Makohoniuk, a part-time trader and a member of Ticker Forum, posted a casual invitation on the forums to "Mail a tea bag to congress and to Senate". Forum moderator, Stephanie Jasky helped organize the group and worked to "get it to go viral." Jasky is also the founder and director of FedUpUSA - a fiscally conservative, non-partisan activist group whose members describe themselves as "a group of investors" who sprung out of the forums and previously held DC protests in 2008.

The founder of, Karl Denninger (stock trader and former CEO), published his own write-up on the proposed protest, titled "Tea Party February 1st?," which was posted in direct response to President Obama's inauguration occurring on the same day, and railed against the bailouts, the US national debt and "the fraud and abuse in our banking and financial system" which included the predatory lending practices currently at the center of the home mortgage foreclosure crisis. By February 1, the idea had spread among conservative and libertarian-oriented blogs, forums, websites and through a viral email campaign.

On February 11, talk radio host and Fox Business Network anchor Dave Ramsey appeared on Fox and Friends, waving tea bags and saying "It's time for a Tea Party." He was on the show criticizing the newly confirmed Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, who had outlined his plan to use the $300 billion or so dollars remaining in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. He intended to use $50 billion for foreclosure mitigation and use the rest to help fund private investors to buy toxic assets from banks.

New York Times reporter Kate Zernike, reports that some within the Tea Party credit Seattle blogger and conservative activist Keli Carender with organizing the first Tea Party on February 16, 2009. Another article, written by Chris Good of The Atlantic, credits Carender as "one of the first" Tea Party organizers.

The Protests

On February 19, 2009, in a broadcast from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CNBC Business News Network editor Rick Santelli loudly criticized the government plan to refinance mortgages, which had just been announced the day before, as "promoting bad behavior" by "subsidizing losers' mortgages" and raised the possibility of putting together a "Chicago Tea Party in July". A number of the traders and brokers around him cheered on his proposal, to the apparent amusement of the hosts in the studio. It was called "the rant heard round the world". By the next day, guests on Fox News had already begun to mention this new "Tea Party", Fox News, an outpost of support for the Republican Party during Bush administration continuing to devote extensive editorial space to the movement.

In response to Santelli, websites such as, registered in August 2008 by Chicago radio producer Zack Christenson, were live within twelve hours. About 10 hours after Santelli's remarks, was bought to coordinate Tea Parties scheduled for July 4, and as of March 4, was reported to be receiving 11,000 visitors a day.

A Facebook page was developed on February 20 the same year calling for Tea Party protests across the country. Group administrators included Eric Odom of the conservative activist group FreedomWorks, and the group was created by Phil Kerpen from the conservative advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity. Soon, the "Nationwide Chicago Tea Party" protest was coordinated across over 40 different cities for February 27, 2009, thus establishing the first national modern Tea Party protest.

Other protests have been held on:

- April 15, 2009 to coincide with the annual U.S. deadline for submitting tax returns, known as Tax Day.

- July 4, 2009 to coincide with Independence Day.

- September 12, 2009 to coincide with the anniversary of the day after the September 11 attacks.

- November 5, 2009 in Washington D.C. to protest the impending Health insurance vote

- March 14–21, 2010 in Washington, D.C. during the final week of debate on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Reaction to the tea parties included counter-protests expressing support for the Obama administration, and dismissive or mocking media coverage of both the events and its promoters as it was the case with the Rally held October 31, at the National Mall in Washington DC, organized by the media anchor Jon Stewart and comedian Stephen Colbert. This event was organized as a reply to the August 28 rally of the conservative Glenn Beck, held in Washington DC aiming to restore „honor in America” and raise funds for the non-profit Special Operations Warrior Foundation, dedicated to support veterans.

What will be the next party about

The final results of the recent mid-term elections are considered a litmus test of the actions of the tea-party movement by now. Leaders of the movement declared already that their projected midterm election victories should send a strong message: watch out in 2012. "The Republicans need to know, we've done it in 2010. If they don't do the right thing in the next couple of years, it's not a problem. We'll come back in 2012. We'll do it all over again. We'll replace them with people that will uphold [our] principles," said Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots -- one of the movement's largest groups.

Until the end of the week we will be able to know the overall successes of the Tea Party movement. For me, it is very interesting to observe the passive reaction from the Democratic side, limited rather to humoristic, intellectual appreciations. It might be, perhaps, the confirmation of my old observation, which I have to explain soon in a later post, that the Democrats, when they won the power, were always unable to keep it for too long. On the other hand, I am also curious what changes will be brought in terms of leadership for the Republican side, confronted for the moment with a problematic lack of leadership. We will find, probably, the answer, in the next weeks, after the full evaluation of the elections results.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The New Diplomacy

It is about time for some serious lectures on foreign affairs. For today, I found Robert W. Tucker's, Woodrow Wilson's New Diplomacy, published in 2004 in the World Policy Journal. A detailed account of the beginning of a new era of the American foreign policy, switching from the isolationism and preponderant interests on home affairs to a wider interest in securing a sanitary belt aimed to promote fundamental rights above local interests.

The Twitter map

of the mid-term elections.

Monday, November 1, 2010

America votes

Tuesday, November 2, Americans are asked to vote for 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the United States States Senate. At stake there are 38 state and territorial governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races.

The main subjects of interest were the national economic policies and the policies of Obama administration in the area of health care, taxes and deficits.

Here there are a couple of details about the fundraising situation, the media coverage and the main debates by now.

Kurile's heel

What's the interest of Russia to have tensed relations with Japan, following the latest visit of Russian president to the controversial Kurile Islands? Russia never played one single card and the situation from the Asian continent, confronted with uncertain future in the Korean Peninsula, a China ready to conquer the world and the next visit of president Obama in India, an important piece of the puzzle during the Cold War.

Under the threats of terror

The week-end started with the failed terrorist attempt in the US and ended with a suicide attack in Istanbul's populated area of Taksim, wounding 32 persons. The main suspect, the separatist PKK Kurdish party denied any involvement.

In the Yemen case, several investigations are currently under deployment, framing the need of an extensive intelligence share between countries aiming to oppose terrorism, the attack being attributed to Al Qaeda operatives. Al Qaeda suicide bombers carried out a series of attacks in Istanbul in November 2003 that killed 62 people and wounded hundreds. Several Islamist militants were arrested last month. But officials have played down the likelihood of Islamist role.

Turkey is a couple of days ahead the 2010 EU Progress Report and is still trying to find a solution regarding the conflict with Cyprus. The geopolitical ambitions and the temptation to become leader in the Muslim world antagonized the country's foreign relations with former partners in the region. Ankara is showing its full disponibility to enter the EU, pledging Turkey's future role in increasing the potential of the organization.

The new president in Brazil: the challenges

Dilma Roussef, the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant and a former guerrilla fighter, won the presidential elections in Brazil, a function held by a woman for the first time in the history of this country. A protege of the former president Ignacio Lula da Silva, leader of the Worker's Party, Roussef is trained as an economist and held various position in the local and central government. She is the third woman president in Latin America, after Argentina and Costa Rica, and the ten head of state and government worldwide.

The race was closely watched in Bulgaria, the country of origin of her father that she never visited and whose language don't speak. The complicate geopolitical structure and Brazil's unclear strategy by now are raising several questions regarding the future diplomatic moves of one of the biggest geopolitical players in Latin America. The next steps in foreign policy are yet unknown, and the reactions overseas are confusing for the moment, with different interpretations of the vote, up to the immediate home affairs interests.

Among her priorities, she promised to make gender equality an important project. But, foremost, Roussef is faced with a complicate economic pressure, aiming to offer long-term stability for the market. Former energy minister, she contributed in turning Brazil into an energy giant. But, in the same time, the country is facing severe critics from environmental organizations, criticizing Brazil for the big interest show in developing nuclear capacities.

She will sworn in on January 1st, enough time ahead to start expressing clearer positions in issues regarding home and foreign politics. The discussions for forming the Government are likely to start in the next days.