In this first article Jan Markell contemplates the presence of so many emerging signs of this last generation.
Last Thursday, Mozilla, the company that’s home to the web browser Firefox, forced the resignation of CEO Brendan Eich. What, precisely, had Eich done wrong? Back in 2008, Eich had donated $1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort backing traditional marriage in California. Dating website OKCupid posted a ban on Firefox traffic, issuing a message to Firefox users instead: “Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.” That ban reportedly prompted the action at Mozilla.
Of course, it was the people pushing for Eich’s ouster who were enforcing “misery, shame, and frustration.” Eich had never brought his politics into the workplace. Mozilla had no history of treating homosexuals differently, and no single instance of Eich doing so could be documented. Nonetheless, he had violated the dictates of the Thought Police. And thus he was ousted.
It’s a disturbing story, to be sure. But it’s also just the tip of the iceberg: Unfortunately, the same folks administering the private Thought Police would love to extend their control into the realm of government. These are not libertarians arguing for the right to hire and fire as you see fit in the private market. These are power brokers seeking to use whatever means necessary to quash opposition.
When fascism comes, it will come not with jackboots but with promises of a better world. The jackboots come later, when we’ve all been shamed into silence — when we’ve been taught that to allow that with which we disagree is to agree with it, and when we’ve accepted that the best method of preventing such disagreement is government power. We’re on the verge. All it will take is the silence of good people — people on all sides of the political aisle — who fall prey to the ultimate temptation in a republic: the temptation to force their values on others utilizing the machinery of government. We’re already more than halfway there.
To anyone who even casually monitors international agencies — such as the UN, the OECD, and the IMF — it will come as no surprise that those agencies have long wanted stable sources of funding that they could count on, rather than relying on handouts from governments around the world. But it would likely come as a surprise to most that we will likely see the initial operation of a world tax regime to fund international entities by 2015.
Borrowing money from stock brokers to buy stocks has now hit an all-time high, triggering fears of a downward market adjustment and a collapse of the brokerage-made loan market investors typically use to fuel continued bull market growth.
Recent concerns about margin debt nearing $500 billion have added to concerns that the Federal Reserve’s ability to continue boosting the U.S. stock markets by buying U.S. debt may be coming to an end, with a downward market adjustment becoming more likely in the next few months.
With Nato assessments that there are some 40,000 Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border ready to move at a few hours' notice, the heightening war of words between Moscow and Kiev raises a genuine prospect of conflict.
If Russia requires a pretext to move into eastern Ukraine, then many of the elements of that narrative are already in place.
But what of the Russian military's capabilities? What can be deduced from what we have seen so far of Russian operations in Crimea?
Nato has warned Russia that further intervention in Ukraine would be a "historic mistake" with grave consequences.
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Moscow must pull back troops it has massed on the Ukrainian border.
Ukraine has regained control of one of the government buildings occupied by pro-Russian activists in the east of the country, in the city of Kharkiv.
However, armed militants are refusing to withdraw in another city, Luhansk.
Moscow has said that using force to end the protests could lead to civil war.
"I urge Russia to step back and not escalate the situation in east Ukraine," Mr Rasmussen said in Paris where he was attending a seminar on Nato reforms.
A senior Russian parliamentarian, Senator Viktor Ozerov, stressed that President Putin could theoretically send troops anywhere in Ukraine under the powers given to him by parliament that allowed him to move forces into Crimea.
Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators seized government buildings in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk on Sunday night, barricading themselves inside and raising Russian flags, with calls for Moscow to send in "peacekeepers".
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian authorities said they had retaken control of the building in Kharkiv, detaining some 70 people in a bloodless operation.
But in Luhansk, officials accused "radicals" occupying the state security building of placing explosives and holding about 60 people against their will.
Activists in the building denied having explosives or hostages but said they had seized an armoury full of automatic rifles.
In his speech on Friday April 4, Hassan Nasrallah said that henceforth his Hizballah fighters would strike Israel from their positions on the Syrian Golan.
This confronts Damascus with a difficulty. The Syrian army is legally constrained from deploying tanks and armored vehicles for operations against the rebels under the Syrian-Israeli 1974 ceasefire agreement which ended the war of attrition following the Yom Kippur war. This agreement restored 5 percent of the plateau to Syrian control provided it was incorporated in a demilitarized zone to the east and policed by UN peacekeepers.
But on Tuesday evening, April 8, the Syrian air force bombarded the rebels holding Tel al-Ahmar, with Iranian-made explosives in breach of that agreement. The response to that violation poses Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz with some major decisions:
1. Should the Syrian Army be allowed to drive the rebels from Tel al-Ahmar?
2. To achieve this, Syrian forces would have to use heavy weaponry, a further violation of the Syrian ceasefire agreement with Israel. How many violations can the IDF tolerate?
3. Should Israel permit hostile foreign troops, such as the Lebanese Hizballah and the Iraqi Shiites,to take up positions on its northern border?
4. How will the IDF deal with the almost inevitably spillover of battles, explosions and bombardments taking place in this tiny area into Israel?
5. Will Israel continue to provide medical care for wounded rebels in the battle for Tel al-Ahmar? If so, Israeli medical teams and hospitals may find they are treating jihadis associated with Al Qaeda.
Israelis living in the north and trippers to favorite resorts there had better not expect the coming eight-day Passover festival to pass quietly.
“In response to the Palestinian violation of their commitments under peace talks… Israel government ministers have been told to refrain from meeting their Palestinian counterparts,” an official told AFP, requesting anonymity.