Author Archive

Penpal Conversations

I’ll add some of the additional things my penpal George and I have been talking about that hasn’t been covered by the blog.  Some of the stuff back and forth was not related to terrorism and I will mostly avoid that.  I’ll start with the Tea Party/Milita movement conversation we had.  Here is an excerpt:

I would like to state that I am a big fan of Robert Gates and if I were t vote in the US I would vote Republicans . If you have read Brave New World you should know that men are born and educated unequal but under the right management and leadership they can equally contribute to their society for the greater good. As long as Tea Party crazies do not not try to steal the only state monopoly [ use of violence ] they are OK with me . I currentl live under a socialist government under Papanedreou the 3rd , a US citizen from both parents so I can feel the Irony of socialism. Even if Tea Party Crazies are morons , they can become ‘useful fools” under a liberal organized society . Their urges for violence and militancy can be focused towards the graveyard of Empires , Afghanistan , where they can fight in order to make sure the rest of us enjoy a free , secular , liberal democracy.

I find it interesting that he considers it ok to manipulate Tea Party people toward the greater good.  Within the US, the discovery of that would be a major scandal.  I was also surprised at how much my penpal, George, knows about the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.  My traditional knowledge of the way Europeans notice American politics has generally exclusively focused on the office of the president and occasionally the Congress as a whole.   Though he does fit standard patterns to know very few American legislators, but then I do not know any Greek ones so knowing any is significantly better than me.    George has repeatedly expressed strong feelings against socialism, personally, I tend not to be instantiating about my opposition to socialism as a form of governance.  On the other hand, the history of Greece and various socialist based movement does justify such strong feelings.

Among other articles he sent to me was one by Greek newspapers about the US Secret Service and their duties abroad.  One of the more interesting articles was an article from STRATFOR where the police had arrested six members of the communist militant group Revolutionary Struggle which had apparently attacked the US embassy in Greece with rockets at one point.  I wonder how that failed to make the US media, other embassy terrorist attacks have repeatedly been front page news.

Other topics include like the history and culture of the US as well.  My penpal saw the documentary Guns, Germs, and Steel.  I’ve already seen it, did a mostly good job, though I outlined to my penpal where I thought it had incomplete knowledge.

The title belong to a documentary that I will see next week about european industrial revolution that made the white people more fortunate than others who were unlucky enough to be born on the rest . I think the documentary is trying to show that geography is more important than race

Most recently of course has been discussing the new Arizona immigration law and the New York City car bombing.  We have repeatedly discussed immigration issues.  One of the things that come up regularly is how much more stringent Greek law is regarding identification compared to the US.  Arizona actually trends towards European countries with the new law rather than unethical.

In Athens , Greece were I live immigrants are asked by police to provide identification again and again. Prison time and routine police checks work like aspirine in illegal immigration issues. Cancer is not cured by aspirine , illegal immigration is not stopped by road block/arrests/ID checks….This is happenig to Greece as long as I remember. What might be controversial to me is not controvercial to you and vice-versa.  News are transferred  faster than ever , but remember that there are diferent audiences that interpret the news in various ways.

One of the more striking things was George’s response to a automatic weapon carrying officer after the attempted car bombing in New York that really speaks to how much more comfortable Americans are around guns that is common.  According to Geroge:

I liked your comments on the pictures. I see them as a proof of how differert you and I  “diggest” any given Informartion. That does not mean that I disagree with you , it means that I understand events in a another perspetive. For example  , A while ago I saw in a documentary that inside NY centrar metro station , armed men that were affilited with the military [not police] were patorling the site. In Greece that would have been unacceptable because there is a mistrudt between Police-Army.

I do not think there is anyone in the United States who believes there is mistrust between the police and army in the United States.  Yet, I guess that has been issue in a number of places.

More Penpal Posts: Third Cup of Tea Reaction

It seems like a really forgot to put up the posts after I performed the requirements in the outline for the class.  Yikes, I really should have kept better track of putting things up on time.  I have a more general post I’m preparing unrelated to penpal stuff.

As you may have seen from my previous post, my third cup of tea is based on my own expertise in computer software.  My penpal George responded to my post with the following:

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Penpal: Hurt Locker

I guess I forgot to do this one because my penpal actually asked me if I had seen the move before I had.  Though in Greece it had only come out recently so it took about a year and half or so to make it over.

What I found interesting is that he viewed it as a more realistic and useful view of war than I did and really enjoyed the film.  Here’s a quick summary of what Geoge’s review, call it the one minute summary.

March  6, 2010

I saw the film today and I think it was a good one . The main character is very actor he is the main reason to see this film . The plot is intersting and the music is excelent . There were also some funny sub-plots that tried to add authenticity to a storyline based on fiction .

Ironically, most of the reasons he mentioned above are reasons are did not like the film.  The actor playing the main character is good I admit, but the character he plays is a caricature of stern heroism.  I found the sub-plots more painful than good, with large exaggerations, though some were based in fact.  The “body bomb” idea was taken from a failed attempt to assassinate a minister in SaudiArabia: A quick excerpt:

It has emerged that an al-Qaeda bomber who died last month while trying to blow up a Saudi prince in Jeddah had hidden the explosives inside his body.

Only the attacker died, but it is feared that the new development could be copied by others.

Experts say it could have implications for airport security, rendering traditional metal detectors “useless”.

It would have been an awfully painful way to die though.  The physics equations resolve into a situation in which your organs are liquified, bones turn to ash, and inner skin burned while absorbing the shockwave thereby preventing anyone from getting hurt – well, other than yourself.  Not surprisingly, no one has tried to repeat it since.  What has been much more common has been for insurgents to strap bombs onto donkeys and then claim to the local residents it was the Americans who killed their work animal.

The film overall was too heroic for my taste despite the psychoses evident in all the soldiers.

Munich Essay: It is difficult to argue against counter-terrorism compaigns that do not kill civilians.

I realized as of late that I have forgotten to post some of my essays from the past year after the first one.  I won’t bother putting up the one that wasn’t as good, but this one was received rather warmly.  It took a lot of work for this essay, finding the sources that approximate what I have been trying to show was difficult.

The following essay below the fold is about the nature of counter-terrorism campaigns and their morality.  The fundamental difficulty is determine the difference in morality based on intent and actual result.  A terrorist can support at its core a worthy cause, but be deemed by supporting such a cause with utmost horrifying actions.  By the same token, this is true of counter-terrorist organizations who must separate terrorists from civilians when they are deliberately trying to avoid being found.

Intelligence Agencies: A Necessary Agent of Destruction and their Perception in Media

They are letters that are anthropomorphic personification of fear itself, CIA, KGB, MI6, ISI, Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Mossad (tran. The Institute).  All of the above organizations have been involved in what they have deemed to be counterterrorism campaigns.  Their methods of operation are similar too, intelligence gathering leading infiltration, military strikes, and assassination.  All of the organizations represented above disallow extrajudicial killings except in the case of counterterrorism campaigns – a breakdown of traditional values.  In many cases the overall casualties of counterterrorism operations can exceed that of the terrorist’s initialization incident.  The application of a counterterrorism campaigns requires public perception to internalize an ideological separation between counterterrorism and terrorism that is partly created by media and journalists.

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Does the Anonymization of Comments Result in More Radical Behavior?

One of the primary advantages that many have had about the Internet is the idea that the voices of everyone is available to many that would otherwise be silenced. Indeed, this very post falls under that same category as does all of WordPress actually. The problem is, I will argue, is that the ones most likely to comment on an news article are in fact the ones that feel the most emotion towards the issue of the article rather than the most rational. Read more

My Cups of Tea

I would have to say my cup of tea is computer system security; I know that seems like a relatively unimportant place at the moment, but everything points an increasing and deadly role.

He want you for HIS army.

Already, modern
systems rely so heavily that allow on outside access with the power grid being the most widely quoted example by the media.  In actuality, the possibility of actual terrorism through the internet would be seen as substantially more instructive.  Therefore, my first cup of tea, the tea of the stranger, is to explain why this is important.  Can you imagine your entire country disconnected electronically from the world?

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My Penpal and Conversations: George Tsopanakis

Let me introduce my penpal to the rest of the class.  George Tsopanakis is a communications student, Junior, at the American College of Greece.  He was also kind enough to send a few photos around the university a few other

Soccer Stadium outside the University


he took an interest in.  We got off to a somewhat slow start since like many students at Arizona State, but things have picked up after several weeks.  We have talked about a number of subjects including the including the terror events on September 11, 2001, how culture may affect what terrorism shows up, and local issues of both Greece and the United States. Read more

Clothing and Commemoration of Bloody Sunday

A Mockumentary, Bloody Sunday

The movie Bloody Sunday was written and produced well after the actual events took place in 2002.  Unlike most films that approach the subject, either dramas or documentaries; Bloody Sunday is a mockumentary.  In a mockumentary parts of the event covered is restructured by the artistic direction of the director and thereby often reveals the biases thereof.  The bias was significant part of the movie, for nearly all the players in the actual event have conflicting stories.  Some reported the truth, some were lies, and others were the result of faulty memory.  Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology of Stanford University describes the way fault memories work:

we might hear garbled words like “next,” “transfer,” and “train.” Building on our assumptions    and knowledge, we may put together the actual statement… we may even remember having           heard the full statement.

As a result, the director making a movie of a controversial event has a colossal degree of leeway since no eyewitness account will be perfect.

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My definition of terrorism

My definition of terrorism is based on my own family’s history, my exposure to contemporary terrorism, and the media’s portrayal of terrorism.  Terrorism is the use violence, expression, and intention thereof to sow fear against those mistakenly perceived as enemies and as a brutal form of political expression usually under an organizational affiliation.  Violence as a standard part of terrorism is noticed especially by journalists to extend their political expression.  I include expression as a part of terrorism such as hate speech, religious, and racial slander because of the fear induced in the target populace, incitement to violence, and worst of all, spread the message that hate speech is acceptable.  Read more

Iraqi Blog Sites

One of the more impressive aspects of today’s internet is the ability for just about anyone to get online – even in cases where war may get in the way.  Just a few days ago I discovered the site where a whole list of Iraqi bloggers are maintained.  As always, our view from outside is always skewed by the media we view as do the bloggers themselves but from inside.  Not all of the blogs listed are in English not surprisingly, but there a couple of bloogers in the list I want to highlight. Read more

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.