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Who is Qassem Soleimani? Is it now World War III?

When news of the US admitting that President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani broke out, World War III became a trending topic in Twitter, Google search and Facebook.

Journalist Caitlin Johnstone has a good rundown of what this recent development in the Middle East is and she’s right to say that those who value peace and humanity should closely follow how it will all pan out.

Who is Qassem Soleimani to begin with? Andrew Sexun easily sums it up as:

But I do know something of how important Qassem Soleimani was, because he spent more time in the Arabic-speaking world—propping up Iranian allies from Iraq to Lebanon, and from Syria to Yemen—than he did back home in Iran. From a military and diplomatic perspective, Soleimani was Iran’s David Petraeus and Stan McChrystal and Brett McGurk all rolled into one.

To which Fred Kaplan adds:

To convey a sense of Soleimani’s significance, it would be as if, during the Iraq war, the ayatollah had ordered the assassination of Gen. David Petraeus, Gen. Jim Mattis, the head of Special Operations Command, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.* Soleimani’s responsibilities corresponded with all four of these roles. Even then, the analogy falls short because, among Shi’ite Muslims across the region, Soleimani also exuded the charisma of a religious icon, a holy warrior.

For the past 20 years, he had been the architect of Iran’s expansionist foreign policy, running subversive operations and controlling Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.

Why did the US assassinated Soleimani? He may have helped the US push back ISIS, he is also responsible for attacks against US soldiers and operatives in recent years. That may or may not be a justification, but most experts are now saying it doesn’t matter. It’s been done. The real question now is, what will happen next aside from the certainty that Iran will strike back? World War III? Who knows? Even the experts don’t have an answer yet. And that’s the scary part.

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Would Congress act fast enough to allow bike-hailing services?

#Savemotortaxi should now be the the new battle cry for the commuting public instead of just #SaveAngkas as the LTFRB’s Technical Working Group has recently announced that once their pilot study ends, the provisional permits for bike-hailing services like Angkas, JoyRide and Move It will end as well. It means after March 23, 2020, no more motorcycle taxis. Well, the ones you can book via an app that is. The only option left for commuters would be habal-habal, its illegal version.

Unless of course, Congress moves fast enough to amend Republic Act No. 4136 to legalize the bike-for-hire services, commuters would have to find other solutions to the terrible and worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila on their own.

At the moment legislation that legalizes motorycle taxis pending in Congress are as follows: HB 8959 which was passed by the Lower House last February 4, 2019 and is now pending with the Senate; Senate Bills: SBN-50, SBN-128, SBN-409 and SBN-1025.

Maybe the recent ruckus between Angkas and the LTFRB will be enough to get Congress’ attention to finally act on those pending bills.

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New book: The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross

Sometime in 2007 or 2008, back in my blogging heyday, I stumbled on I Write Like. It’s a nifty website that checks ‘which famous writer you write like by analyzing your word choice and writing style‘. The first result back then was that I write like Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author and co-editor of the weblog Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow. Which was a delight because I enjoy his writing and we are both activists. Since then I’ve been following his blog and podcasts and finally, I got a hard copy of one of his books – The Rapture of the Nerds. Co-authored with Charles Stross.

The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

Before I wrote this post, I tried to run the analysis again and the results were the same. 🙂 Quite excited to get started on this book and pretty sure I’d be buying Cory’s other books in the months to come.

Hopefully, reading more and more would help me get back my blogging mojo and someday I’d be able to publish a book as well.

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Snapchat Cameo: Star in your own video clips

Taking Bitmoji to the next level, Snapchat is working on an upcoming feature that lets users put their selfies into short clips that convey quick emotion, reaction, or silly situation in Snapchat messages.

It uses Deepfake tech to add your face into short video clips. It’s under limited testing in France as seen in a few tweets by French Snapchat users who have stumbled into it:

Snapchat has not yet confirmed when the feature will be available globally and you can be sure this will start a new trend among social messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber etc.

The concept has so many potentials, the applications actually scare me a bit. What do you think of Snapchat Cameo?

By the way, here’s a good explanation of what Deepfake is. You’d understand why the technology is quite scary.