WELCOME TO THE READBOOK, our daily trawl of content noteworthy, tl;dr, and below-the-fold. Posted early and updated throughout the day. Track updates via Twitter @EditorsCI. Get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-house. Chris Albon, writing from South Africa, notes that when all else fails and medical services collapse (as have done in SA this past week), military personnel are often the ones who fill the gap. Journalist, author, and academic Anatol Lieven reviews three recent books on Afghanistan.
Iran sanctions. The central bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has asked Emirate lenders to declare remittances to Iran on a monthly basis, in a study of the economic impact of UN sanctions. The Emirates are home to a sizable community of Iranians, and the central bank states that it was already tracking remittances on a quarterly basis; the study is meant to more closely examine the specific impact of the latest round of sanctions. (It also effectively establishes an additional layer of sanctions compliance).
Koran burning. Alternate title: "Never underestimate the influence of deliberate stupidity on international relations." This has been churning for a few days now, and there isn't a lot to be said about it that wasn't captured in the alternate title: a small Florida congregation calling itself the "New Testament, Charismatic, Non-Denominational Church" is planning a Koran-burning party, to be held this Saturday, in commemoration of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Local fire safety officials aren't impressed; neither is General David Petreaus, who thinks it could (and already has) inspire(d) backlash in Afghanistan.
Speaking of which, David Rieff, on the "unwisdom of crowds": "...our political crowds are studies in lowest-common-denominator subordination of the individual to the collective and of the thought to the slogan: in short, complexity to simplicity." More: "The lesson, whether about geopolitics or daily life, should be clear: If what you are thinking could just as easily be expressed in a slogan, and shouted out or held aloft on a banner by a crowd, then you are probably not thinking at all. And in troubled times such as our own, times of the most enormous moral, social, cultural, and technological dislocation, that is immensely dangerous."
Righthaven. It was only a matter of time before the "copyright troll" nabbed a big (or at least official) fish in its net. The company, which buys intellectual property rights so it can sue copyright violators, has filed suit against US Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle for allegedly reprinting "two Las Vegas Review-Journal articles on her campaign website without permission." Idle thought: Righthaven's strategy might look and feel slimy, but the flip side of things is that such efforts could - could - nudge online news and other media towards new norms of behavior. Cross-posting, aggregation and liberal appropriation of other forms of intellectual property (ie. images) are almost standard practice, but no less legally murky for all the mainstream media adoption of such web-based worst practices. Sitting on the editorial side of the fence, I've developed an acute sensitivity to what that means after expending all manner of effort getting content ready for publication, only to see it appear elsewhere, unlicensed, unpaid for - to the benefit of others who haven't expended said energy and resources.
Inland Effects of the BP oil spill, video courtesy of National Geographic.