Author Archive

The myth of the surgical strike

August 18, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Vijay Prashad  

"From Afghanistan to Libya, the adversaries of the West seem undaunted by Western bombardment. The Taliban advances towards Lashkar Gar in Helmand Province (Afghanistan), while groups such as the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries and even ISIS hold their ground in central and eastern Libya. The advantage of the West and its allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel) is its dominance of the skies. None of the groups (neither the Taliban nor ISIS) has an air force or serious ground-to-air capacity. They are at the mercy of the high-altitude bombers (including drones) that can fly over their terrain and hit them at will. But this aerial advantage has a limited ability. It can destroy identifiable targets: what its people on the ground or its eyes in the sky can see. This is possible. What is less possible is to obliterate (without major civilian casualties) the guerrilla fighters on the ground." (08/17/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19394/the-futility-of-air-strikes-in-the-war-on-terror  

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Liberals have wrong fears about Hillary’s #NeverTrump outreach

August 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler  

"Conservative efforts to portray Hillary Clinton as unusually nefarious have steered the GOP into political cul-de-sacs, from Vince Foster to the Benghazi Committee. Republicans have built up such a vast anti-Clinton hate debt that they’ve become incapable of acknowledging that Clinton is a largely conventional, mainstream politician. Doing so, after all, would reveal the underlying fraud to their voters. Donald Trump is changing all that. For the first time since Clinton was secretary of state, and members of both parties spoke of her admiringly, Republicans are once again able to praise her, or at least vouch for her competence. In fact, more and more Republicans with real clout in conservative politics are announcing they will support Clinton in November, to guard against Trump’s becoming president as a kind of side effect of Clinton derangement syndrome." (08/17/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136102/liberals-wrong-fears-hillarys-nevertrump-outreach  

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Why voting systems must be as secure as the US power grid

August 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Karen Hobert Flynn & Pamela Smith  

"Every American has the right to have their vote counted. The Department of Homeland Security is weighing steps to help safeguard that right. The agency is considering actions to secure the voting process against cyber-threats by designating voting systems as 'critical infrastructure.' In a democracy, our voting systems are critical infrastructure like our power grids, hospital systems and nuclear power plants. The U.S. government maintains its authority based on the consent of the governed. The revelation that hackers, possibly sponsored by Russia, illegally entered the computer system of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as that of the Democratic National Committee, and monitored email activity for more than one year shows the vulnerability of the U.S. political infrastructure. Emails of members of Congress were also hacked." [editor's note: This one's only concerned with who hacked the game, and not how the DNC stole their nomination, so the voters never got to support the candidate they wanted - SAT] (08/17/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-security-internet-voting-commentary-idUSKCN10S08G  

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San Jose’s “Opportunity to Work” initiative gets big endorsement

August 17, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted this week to endorse Silicon Valley Rising‘s City of San Jose Opportunity to Work Initiative. If passed by voters, the initiative would require employers to offer additional work hours to their part-time employees before hiring more part-time or temporary workers. This enables workers to earn enough to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. (Or as George W. Bush once said, to 'put food on your family.') It looks like the initiative will pass. A poll released by EMC Research says the initiative is supported by more than three-quarters of San Jose voters." [editor's note: The downside for some smaller companies is pretty obvious - SAT] (08/17/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160817/san-joses-opportunity-to-work-initiative-gets-big-endorsement  

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Fed minutes show rate hike could come “soon”

August 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"The Fed's minutes from its July 26-27 meeting revealed a subtle shift in the central bank's stance indicating a hike in short-term interest rates is increasingly likely. 'They (members of Federal Open Market Committee) judged that another increase in the federal funds rate was or would soon be warranted,' according to the notes. If the Fed were to make a move in its upcoming September meeting, that would be its first hike to short-term interest rates this year. Stocks were stable on the news as investors focused on the Fed's increased faith in the strength of the economy, but also the fact that the Fed still seems torn on taking an interest rate move. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 4.89 to 18547, which was an improvement from earlier in the day." (08/17/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2016/08/17/fed-minutes-show-rate-hike-could-come-soon/88895726  

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Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak

August 17, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The whistleblower Edward Snowden believes Russia is behind a leak of malware allegedly belonging to the US National Security Agency (NSA). Hackers calling themselves Shadow Brokers started an auction for the malware last week. The security firm Kaspersky said it believed the original files were from Equation Group, which is thought to be linked to the NSA. A former NSA worker Dave Aitel pointed the finger at Russian involvement. He said it was likely to be a diplomatic strategy, related to the blame being placed on Russia for a recently revealed hack of computers belonging to the Democratic party in the US." (08/17/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37104745  

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Ex-Boston mob boss “Whitey” Bulger appeals to SCOTUS

August 17, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Former Boston mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his 2013 conviction for committing or ordering the murders of 11 people while he ruled the city’s underworld in the 1970s and 80s. Bulger's attorneys deployed a novel strategy at his racketeering trial, admitting on the first day that their client, now 86, had been an 'organized criminal' and focusing most of their energy on denying he had ever served as a law enforcement informant, or 'rat' in mob parlance. Last year they argued that Bulger had been denied justice because he had not been allowed to testify that a now-dead former U.S. prosecutor gave him immunity for his crimes in exchange for protection. U.S. District Judge Denise Casper had blocked that claim on the grounds that no immunity deal could allow a suspect to legally commit murder, and in March the First Circuit upheld the original verdict." (08/17/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/08/ex-boston-mob-boss-whitey-bulger-appeals-to-us-supreme-court  

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Fixing ObamaCare’s critical problems

August 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Marilyn Tavenner  

"For decades, America has made a commitment to provide affordable insurance coverage to those who need it most. From helping our seniors by implementing Medicare Advantage and the Part D prescription drug program, to helping struggling families and expanding insurance to kids, America’s health insurance plans provide critical coverage that millions rely on every day. Today, millions more have access to coverage, and the number of Americans without insurance is dramatically down. We’ve made real progress, but we can and should do much more. Because when consumers have access to a stable, sustainable market, every American who needs affordable coverage can get it. That starts with fixing critical problems with the Affordable Care Act. The unexpected shortfall in a key program known as 'risk corridors' left hundreds of thousands with reduced coverage options." (08/17/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/16/americas-health-insurance-plans-editorials-debates/88840060  

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Behind Russia-Iran cooperation over Syria, a larger goal

August 17, 2016
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"Russian strategic bombers launched from Iran struck rebel positions in Syria on Wednesday, in a second day of attacks that multiply Russian firepower in the Middle East and underscore unprecedented military cooperation between the Islamic Republic and a foreign power. The Kremlin says the Tu-22M3 bombers attacked targets of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and other factions in Syria that oppose President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of both Moscow and Tehran. The closer cooperation serves both to target opponents of Mr. Assad (some of them backed by the United States), while also sending a sharp message to the US as fighting over the divided city of Aleppo reaches a critical point after five years of inconclusive civil war." (08/17/16)

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2016/0817/Behind-Russia-Iran-cooperation-over-Syria-a-larger-goal  

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TN: Nashville cannabis decriminalization bill survives first vote

August 17, 2016
posted by

The Tennessean    

"A proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville survived an unexpected roll-call first vote in the Metro Council Tuesday night. The council voted 32-4, with one abstention, to advance a bill on the first of three readings that would lessen the penalty for people who knowingly possess or exchange a half-ounce of marijuana or less to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service. The proposal, which marks the first time that Nashville’s legislative body has considered any type of marijuana decriminalization, arrived at the council Tuesday for what is typically a procedural first vote. Under council process, all bills are usually advanced on first reading without discussion to move legislation into the council’s committee system, but most ordinances don’t typically involve the controversial topic of marijuana decriminalization. ... Councilman Dave Rosenberg, the lead sponsor of the bill, [said] Metro Nashville Police Department was... part of the discussion of the bill. ... Rosenberg said he’s looking forward to working with the police department to address the language." (08/16/16)

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2016/08/16/nashville-marijuana-decriminalization-bill-survives-first-vote/888370581  

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State Department sought land deal with Nigerian firm tied to Clinton Foundation

August 17, 2016
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"Shortly after Hillary Clinton left the Obama administration, the State Department quietly took steps to purchase real estate in Nigeria from a firm whose parent company is owned by a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, records obtained by Fox News show. On March 20, 2013, William P. Franklin, an 'international realty specialist' at the State Department, emailed Mary E. Davis, an American diplomat stationed in Africa, instructing her to 'put on Post letterhead' an 'expression of interest' by the department in purchasing property at Eko Atlantic, a massive real estate development off the coast of Lagos. Franklin further instructed that the signed letter was to be 'delivered to Ronald Chagoury.' The draft letter, also obtained by Fox News, was undated and addressed to Chagoury care of his firm South Energyx Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of the larger Chagoury Group that is spearheading the Eko Atlantic real estate venture." (08/17/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/17/state-department-sought-land-deal-with-nigerian-firm-tied-to-clinton-foundation.html  

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Is “free trade” causing job loss?

August 17, 2016
posted by

Town Hall
by Walter E Williams  

"International trade figures heavily in the presidential race. Presidential candidate Donald Trump said, 'Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another, from NAFTA to China to South Korea.' And adding, 'A Trump Administration will end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people. The era of economic surrender will finally be over.' 'Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers have seen the jobs they love shipped thousands and thousands of miles away,' he lamented. Hillary Clinton has offered her own condemnations of trade and globalization. Some see her stance on trade as little more than typical campaign rhetoric." (08/17/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2016/08/17/is-free-trade-causing-job-loss-n2205309  

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Appeals court: DOJ can’t use fed funds to prosecute cannabis users compliant with state law

August 17, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The U.S. Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute federal marijuana cases if the defendants comply with state guidelines that permit the drug’s sale for medical purposes, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling, from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, comes as voters in nine more states will consider allowing the recreational use of marijuana this November. Twenty-five U.S. states currently allow for medical marijuana. While the sale of the drug is still illegal under federal law, Congress in 2014 passed a budget rule which prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere in the implementation of state marijuana regulations. Due to this rule, defendants in 10 cases in California and Washington argued that their federal charges should be dismissed. The 9th Circuit in San Francisco, which covers nine Western states, ruled on Tuesday that the DOJ could not spend money as long as those defendants 'strictly complied' with all state regulations." (08/16/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/08/appeals-court-doj-cant-use-federal-funds-to-prosecute-marijuana-users-who-comply-with-state-law  

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Will Trump fire himself?

August 17, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner  

"Don’t rule out the possibility of Donald Trump quitting the race. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal called on him to clean up his act by Labor Day, or step aside. That’s yuge. If Trump continues to be unable to discipline himself (as all signs indicate), and if Hillary Clinton keeps solidifying her lead, there is a plausible scenario in which his campaign enters a kind death spiral. First, more and more Republicans desert him. Recent press accounts quote senior Republicans saying that if Trump keeps sinking, the Republican National Committee should write off his campaign as hopeless and shift funds to House and Senate races to preserve the congressional fortress. That move itself would only intensify the self-fulfilling-prophesy aspect of Trump’s deepening slide. Trump famously abhors whiners and losers. But lately, he’s been sounding like a man resigned to the idea that he could lose big." (08/16/16)

http://prospect.org/article/will-trump-fire-himself  

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The radicalism of Black Lives Matter

August 17, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Martha Blondi  

Three years have passed since the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin prompted Oakland, Calif., organizer Alicia Garza to write an anguished Facebook post ending with the words 'Black lives matter' -- words that would channel an outpouring of outrage on social media. A year later, the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., ignited a local rebellion of Black citizenry, and a social movement took shape. That the Ferguson Police Department left Brown’s fatally wounded body on the street for hours encapsulates the disregard for Black suffering that continues to drive protest nationwide." (08/15/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/features/black-lives-matter-history-police-brutality.html  

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After Trump, can the Republican Party be rebuilt?

August 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Jon Gabriel  

"Four months after Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama, the Republican National Committee released an autopsy report to prevent a similar blow out in 2016. Their recommendations? 'We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too. We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.' The party needed to shed its identity as 'scary,' 'narrow minded' and filled with 'stuffy old men.' Today, most of that report’s authors have endorsed a 70-year-old loudmouth billionaire who has made a mockery of everything they proposed." (08/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/16/trump-republicans-establishment-conservatives-rebuilt-destroyed-immigration-reform-column/88768914  

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Clinton campaign plans to reschedule marijuana

August 17, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle Smell the Truth    

"If elected, Hillary Clinton says she plans to do what the DEA has failed to achieve this year by downgrading marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance. A policy advisor to the Democratic presidential candidate announced that Clinton will reschedule marijuana as president, reports the Cannnabist. 'Marijuana is already being used for medical purposes in states across the country, and it has the potential for even further medical use,' Maya Harris, a senior policy advisor to Clinton’s campaign, said in a statement. ... The announcement was a direct response to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision last Thursday to deny a petition for the removal of marijuana as Schedule I in the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies it as one of the most dangerous illegal drugs with little to no medical value." [editor's note: Talk about taking a "moderate" stance on an issue; just sayin' ... - SAT] (08/16/16)

http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/08/15/hillary-clinton-campaign-plans-to-reschedule-marijuana  

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Clinton-Kaine transition team announced

August 16, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"The next president won't take office for more than five months, but the transition teams for both nominees are taking shape. John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, announced Tuesday that Ken Salazar, a former Interior secretary, will chair the transition team for Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. The Clinton-Kaine Transition Project was formed earlier this month and will be based in Washington. Podesta is the group's president. Salazar served alongside Clinton both in President Obama's Cabinet, when he headed the Interior Department and she was secretary of State, and prior to that in the U.S. Senate, when he represented Colorado and she New York." [editor's note: Sounds a little over-confident to me -- don't they usually announce their transition teams after, you know, WINNING THE ELECTION? - TLK] (08/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/08/16/clinton-kaine-transition-salazar/88820758  

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TN: Vanderbilt to remove “Confederate” from name of dorm

August 16, 2016
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"Vanderbilt University weighed in on the nationwide debate Monday, announcing that it will strike the word Confederate from the stone pediment of its 'Confederate Memorial Hall,' a student dormitory, in order to remove what the university's chancellor called 'a symbol of exclusion.' In order to remove the moniker, the private university in Nashville is returning an 83-year-old gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, now valued at $1.2 million, for naming rights to the building. The total amount will be covered by anonymous donations designated for the purpose. Universities across the country have been grappling with how to honor their own histories while acknowledging a racist past and welcoming increasingly diverse student bodies. School leaders have come down on both sides of the debate." (08/16/16)

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2016/0816/Vanderbilt-to-remove-Confederate-from-name-of-dorm-Why-now  

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Help stop the payday loan debt trap scam

August 16, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"'Payday loans' are a Wall Street/financial industry scheme/scam that preys on people with low incomes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on rules to reign this in and protected Americans. They want to hear from you. Please join the fight by clicking here to send a comment to the CFPB in support of a strong rule. A loan certainly was never about getting money just to get by for another few weeks. (You used to have to go to the mafia for that, and everyone knew you could get your legs broken if you did.) ... With financial deregulation a different, much less boring kind of loan industry sprang up: payday lending. Instead of evaluating risk in order to block loans to people who couldn’t pay the loan back, the payday loan industry tries to find poor, desperate people, dangles loans in front of them, and then traps them into a cycle that drains them of everything." [editor's note: Having taken out those loans in the past, and currently carrying a larger, longer-term one as part of my "backup plan," I beg to differ; though expensive, they can be handled intelligently - SAT] (08/16/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160816/help-stop-the-payday-loan-debt-trap-scam  

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NM: Restaurant under fire for selling “Black Olives Matter” swag

August 16, 2016
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"An Italian restaurant in New Mexico is under fire after making merchandise with a slogan that mimics the Black Lives Matters Movement. KOAT-TV reported Monday that Paisano’s in Albuquerque is selling 'black olives matter' shirts and hats after making national headlines for putting the phrase on a sign outside the restaurant. Paisano’s owner Rick Camuglia said he emblazoned the phrase on the restaurant's main sign to sell a new recipe: a tuna dish with black olive tapenade. Camuglia posted pictures of the dish and the sign on Facebook, drawing complaints he was being insensitive and trivializing a movement aimed at trying to stop police shootings of black residents." [editor's note: I admit it; my first reaction to the headline was a chuckle, but then ... wait, they did what? - SAT] (08/16/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/08/16/italian-restaurant-under-fire-for-selling-black-olives-matter-merchandise  

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If Trump is going down, he’s taking the GOP with him

August 16, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Earlier this year, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and a maven of the religious right, compared Donald Trump to King David, the ancient Israelite hero, saying that both are 'a man after God’s own heart.' Falwell’s comparison is outlandish, yes, but there is one Biblical champion that Trump resembles closely: the mighty hewn Samson. Like Trump, Samson was famous for his hair, fought against foreign domination of his nation, was quick to vengeful anger, and had a weakness for female beauty. But for Republicans, there’s one aspect of the Samson analogy that should be particularly worrying. When Samson was captured by the Philistines, he pulled down the pillars of their temple, preferring to die while destroying his tormentors rather than live in captivity. If Trump feels trapped by his alliance with the Republican Party, he may very well unleash the Samson Option, going down in a glorious defeat that takes the GOP with him." (08/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136058/trump-going-down-hes-taking-gop  

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India’s new child labor loophole

August 16, 2016
posted by

Michelle Chen The Nation
by Michelle Chen  

"India’s new landmark child-labor bill should be a reason for children and human-rights advocates to celebrate, but it’s the bosses who are celebrating instead. Between the lines of a seemingly progressive law, some loopholes officially sanction child exploitation in one of the world’s major bastions of underage labor. The law on the surface seeks to restrict child labor that continues to pervade unregulated low-wage industries, ranging from brick making to tea harvesting. However, an exemption for certain 'family-based' businesses effectively leaves a soft spot for household-based industries fueled by kids’ cheap labor, including traditional trades like cigarette rolling or cutting cobblestones." (08/15/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/india-goes-soft-on-child-labor  

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Poland: Team starts dig for Nazi gold train despite doubts

August 16, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Treasure hunters have begun digging at a site in south-western Poland where they believe a Nazi train, laden with stolen gems and arms, is hidden. Experts say there is no evidence that the legendary train exists there. The explorers (led by Piotr Koper from Poland and Andreas Richter from Germany) said ground-penetrating radar results were 'very promising.' They think the train was hidden in a tunnel in 1945. The dig, near the city of Walbrzych, may take up to 10 days. Since World War Two there have been rumours that a train full of loot and guns disappeared into a complex of tunnels -- part of a secret military project which the Nazis never finished. At the time the Soviet Red Army was advancing into the heart of Nazi Germany." (08/16/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37093940  

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New World (dis)Order

August 16, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Arthur Goldhammer  

"It is now more than a quarter of a century since George H.W. Bush delivered to a joint session of Congress a speech calling for a 'New World Order.' In it, the president (famous for his skittishness about 'the vision thing') laid out an ambitious vision for the post-Cold War world. Although the Berlin Wall had fallen just over a year earlier, Bush still looked forward to a unipolar world led by the United States, with the Soviet Union as junior partner: 'Our relationship to the Soviet Union is important, not only to us but to the world. That relationship has helped to shape these and other historic changes.' It was a heady time, with the demise of communism heralding for some 'the end of history.' ... There was only one fly in the ointment: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had just invaded Kuwait. But this was a manageable problem, ..." [editor's note: I co-wrote a song back when that Wall fell; it was called "(Whattaya Gonna Do) When Peace Breaks Out." Sadly, it's as relevant today as it was in 1989 - SAT] (08/15/16)

http://prospect.org/article/new-world-disorder  

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