I want to follow up on something that Greg hinted at yesterday (for those new to this blog, I used to write frequently, but got sidetracked by other things. This isn't just some guy hijacking the blog to talk). He mentioned that the constant drumbeat by the government regarding Iranian interference in the Huthi conflict is threatening to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think he is extremely accurate in this (not that his being accurate is surprising), and I believe that the recent Saudi incursion has the potential to force Iran's hand.
For a long time misguided commentators have ignored Yemen's history to paint this conflict as a proxy war between the region's two beasts, Iran and Saudi Arabia. This is understandable- great power meddling is much easier and a more gripping story than something as idiosyncratic as Yemen. Unfortunately, this was also: wrong. Or at least based on little-to-no evidence. The government made the choice to run with this, to encourage and promote it (the Iran side, anyway) because it helped to tie the battle into a larger regional picture, and put him on the same side as the US.
Things have a way of slipping out of control, though. Saudi Arabia entering Yemen has had the weird effect of rallying people against Saudi Arabia, but also might make Iran have to help out the Huthis, if only to save face. They can't, after all, let the Saudi's "win" the "proxy war" between them. Perception is reality. This is true everywhere; please don't read this as "in the Middle East, only force is blah blah blah".
I couldn't see a good reason for Saudi Arabia to intervene. I think it was near lunacy, as they don't really have anything to gain, and a lot to lose. And their mistake is compounded by the way it might force Iran's hand. This is a very good example of the consequences of doing something that seems good for the moment- talking about Persian adventurism is your country- without thinking down the road. Minus the specifics, that last sentence could be used for nearly everything in Yemen.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.
- Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
- The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
- Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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