Category Archives: Politics: International

Rather to Warhawks: Send *Your* Kids

Link

(PS. I don’t entirely agree about the “waters around China” because we have a treaty obligation to protect Japan against aggression.)

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The Curious Case of Al Jazeera’s Absence From HTC Blinkfeed

TL/DR: Why is al Jazeera’s feed absent from HTC’s Blinkfeed? It’s a mystery.

After writing up my review of the HTC One (M8) the other day, I thought maybe I ought to give Blinkfeed a try.

For those of you who don’t have an HTC phone — and it’s a somewhat specialist taste if reports of declining market share are to believed — Blinkfeed is an HTC-curated/controlled news feed (now available to all Android users). It provides an elegant magazine-like interface made up of user-selected content from among the news sources provided by HTC, and also from one’s social media. Most of the major social media choices you would expect seem to be on the available list, but the provision of news sources is somewhat erratic. There is something from just about every part of the globe, but often not much; there are two wire services, and Huffington Post but no US newspapers. If the US choices are rather spotty in news, they are somewhat heavier in sports and entertainment and various other web-based frills. Many of the news feeds on offer seem rather heavy on gorgeous photos, particularly of landscapes and animals, which I think skews the content of the feed somewhat…although as my test is only a couple of days old it might also reflect that August is the silly season for many news media.

The good news is that Blinkfeed’s options include news from many regions in their home language, so I can get the French news is in French, which I like. And even though you get other languages by changing your “edition,” which isn’t totally intuitive, it’s possible to meld feeds from different languages, so I don’t have to have my US news in French just to get the French news in French.

The bad news is that Blinkfeed is a closed system: I can’t add an RSS feed of my choice, an option that would have made Blinkfeed actually useful.

But, at least, though I, there’s Al Jazeera. Given all the turmoil in the Middle East at present, I thought it would be useful part of my media diet. Except, at least for the last three days, there isn’t any Al Jazeera in my feed. And when I go to the al Jazeera button all it says is “NO CONTENT Pull down to refresh.” Swiping down just repeats the update/nothing-happens cycle.

A Google search got me nowhere. There are plenty of links in which HTC brags about all the content deals it has signed. (I’m guessing people pay HTC for the privilege of being in their sandbox, which is why it’s such an anemic little sandbox.) And even some about HTC adding al Jazeera. But there’s nothing I can find in which HTC says it has dropped al Jazeera.

So I called it in to HTC customer support. I’d had a very good experience with them the last time I called, and no good deed goes unpunished. The support guy I got was understandably skeptical at first. He had me remove everything else from my feed. He had me reboot the phone. No change. Finally he put me on hold for a long static-filled wait. When he came back he explained he’d “gone to the lab” and gotten one of their HTC One (M8) test models, and replicated my problem.

The good news: he now totally believed me.

The bad news: he didn’t have any better ideas than I did about what to do about it.

Apparently, there’s nothing on the HTC internal system about them dropping al Jazeera. No one on the floor at the help center had heard anything like that. So all he could suggest is that I call back tomorrow during regular business hours and ask to be escalated — apparently the escalation team doesn’t work late at night.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll find out if this is a case of broken RSS (or whatever) feed, or a case of political censorship. Right now it’s just a bug report.

Posted in Politics: International, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 7 Comments

Not the Classless Society

The government of Vietnam is controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Strange, therefore, to read that Vietnam Airlines, the flag carrier, wholly owned by the government of Vietnam, has a business class featuring better seats and food, a private lounge, and a private bus to take you to the plane.

A socialist-oriented market economy, eh?

I suppose one could spin this so many different way: VietNam was never really communist it was anti-colonialsist; communism is a failed strategy, here’s the proof; socialism, ditto; fill-in-the-blank has never been tried; virus theory of capitalism; there were always classes under Communism now it’s more open; and doubtless more.

Posted in Politics: International | 1 Comment

The E-Road to Damascus

Take the “Where’s Damacus” test.

I was off by 52 miles to the NNE.

(Spotted via TPM.)

Posted in Politics: International | 1 Comment

Revolutions Occur In Periods of Rising Expectations

More evidence for Crane Brinton’s thesis that revolutions tend to occur in periods of rising (but frustrated) expectations.

Juan Cole: Biggest Demonstrations in Egyptian History: Millions Demand President Morsi Step Down.

Previously: Guy Fawkes Day Musings (November 5, 2007).

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Italian Election Corrective

There have been astonishing volumes of nonsense written about the Italian election. If you believed the MSM, ranging from NPR on over, you would believe the world was about to end, the barbarians were at the gates. It seems the Italian electorate has acted so terribly irresponsibly, by failing to vote for the austerity regime demanded by banks and currently tearing apart Greece. And the people they voted for – quelle horreur — they have no political experience. They could do anything!

How refreshing, therefore, to see a corrective: Invia i Pagliacci! Ci Devono Essere Pagliacci! [extended play]. Worth a look if you can stand to escape from the standard narrative now dominating.

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North Korea Finds New Way to Be Inscrutable

This is way weirder than the fiction I’ve been reading lately:

Kim Jong-un Appears With Disney Characters on North Korean TV:

North Korean state-run television on Monday showed footage of costumed versions of Tigger, Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters prancing in front of the leader, Kim Jong-un, and an entourage of clapping generals.

The footage also showed Mr. Kim in a black Mao suit watching as Mickey Mouse conducted a group of young women playing violins in skimpy black dresses. At times, scenes from the animated Disney movies “Dumbo” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” were projected on a multipanel screen behind the entertainers; an article in the state-run press said unnamed foreign songs were on the bill.

The appearance of the characters from the United States, North Korea’s mortal enemy, was remarkable fare on tightly controlled North Korean television, which usually shows more somber and overtly political programs. A Disney spokeswoman, Zenia Mucha, had no comment Monday beyond a statement: “This was not licensed or authorized by the Walt Disney Company.”

This seems more like Dada than late failed autarcho-Communism. What gives?

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