PND Commentary

The rats of Patna

September 25, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Amitava Kumar  

"In Patna, the capital of Bihar, the city where I grew up, rats have burrowed under the railway platform causing it to collapse in places. In the library at Patna University, I heard that rats had taken over a section of the stacks and the library was closed. Newspapers periodically carry reports that babies have been bitten by rats. One such report helpfully explained that it was the traces of food on the unwashed faces of infants that attracted the rodents. In the middle of the night one winter, during a visit to my parent’s house in Patna, I was sitting at the dining table with my jet-lagged 2-year-old son, watching a cartoon on my computer. We must have been sitting there quietly for about half an hour before my little boy asked, 'Baba, what is that?' He was pointing beyond the screen. There were two enormous rats walking away from us. They looked like stout ladies in tiny heels, on their way to market." (09/24/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17162/the_rats_of_patna  

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Ayn Rand-themed libertarian utopia was a fraud

September 25, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Richard Eskow  

"The theme of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged [was], according to Ms. Rand herself, 'what happens to the world when the Prime Movers go on strike.' Those prime movers are corporate executives ('the motor of the world') and Rand imagines what would happen if they all just went away. To Rand this is nothing less than 'a picture of the world with its motor cut off.' Ouch. Paging Dr. Freud. In Rand’s novel the great, throbbing 'motor of the world' (it’s made of executives, remember?) retreats to an Atlantis-like idyll known as 'Galt’s Gulch.' Without their ingenuity and drive the nation descends into chaos, leading many long pages later to their triumphant return and anointment as leaders of a new libertarian order." [editor's note: There are so many things wrong with this analysis (starting with equating Rand's free-marketeer entrepreneurs with today's corporati?), it's almost amusing - SAT] (09/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o8eaag8  

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Beheadings, mania and threat inflation

September 24, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Binoy Kampmark  

"No politician on this planet is less original. Seeming like a lumbering brontosaurus, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott moves through meeting after meeting in an insentient daze that only lifts when stock terms are used. 'Terrorism' so happens to be one of them. The Australian use of the ISIS beheadings as a pretext to transform a distant country into a crude if clumsy police state is something to behold. The chances of a ceremonial beheading in Australia by masked and brooding youths drunk on Koranic bliss are as remote as finding actual witches in the village undergrowth of Salem." (09/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oy3hxuf  

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Crashing the party of Lincoln

September 24, 2014
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Joel Schlosberg  

"Richardson writes that the GOP was formed 'in opposition to the wealthy slaveholders,' implying an opposition to a wealthy elite per se. But the party always aimed merely to replace the slaveowners' economic elite with its own Hamiltonian industrial elite. The Civil War was the fountainhead of the alliance between the military and a politically connected elite that Eisenhower called the 'military-industrial complex.'" (09/23/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/31424  

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Gary Hart should be sorry he didn’t man up

September 24, 2014
posted by

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders  

"I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as the 2016 presidential campaign looms -- and this time Hillary Rodham Clinton likely will make use of her trophy husband -- the New York Times’ finest are rethinking whether it is good journalism to explore the personal lives of public figures. In that spirit, Sunday’s Magazine featured a Matt Bai piece that gives Gary Hart a cloudy halo. Make that: poor Gary Hart. He has to live with the prospect that if a sex scandal had not forced him to withdraw from the 1988 race, George H.W. Bush would not have won the White House (he thinks), George W. Bush would not have won in 2000, and, Hart told Bai, 'We wouldn’t have invaded Iraq.'" (09/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pvoe78d  

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The building blocks of war

September 24, 2014
posted by

The Nation
by Tom Tomorrow  

Cartoon. (09/23/14)

http://www.thenation.com/blog/181709/building-blocks-war  

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Colonial state of America

September 24, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Jeremy Gantz  

"The idea of the United States as a peaceful democracy at heart, occasionally pulled into overseas wars, is a comforting verse in the national gospel. It’s part of the origin story told in high school textbooks: A fledgling nation threw off the yoke of British colonial rule and settled the West to become the world’s indispensable democratic nation. Sporadic imperial fits notwithstanding (e.g., the invasions of the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq), the soul of America 'goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,' as John Quincy Adams once said. In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Beacon Press), Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz dismisses this story as 'patriotic cant': a piety recited by President Obama and his predecessors to cover up the country’s violent colonial DNA." (09/23/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17168/colonial_state_of_america  

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So much for the end of the War on Terror

September 24, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"Back in May of last year, Obama gave a speech meant to signal a break with the prior twelve years, in which he said, 'we must define our effort not as a boundless 'global war on terror,' but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.' One could argue that that's a distinction without a difference, that it's only about rhetoric. You might also say that the War on Terror isn't so much a set of military actions as it is a mindset. It's the state of being terrorized, in which the nation is constantly on the edge of panic, willing to approve almost anything in the name of staying 'safe' from a threat that not only never disappears, but never even lessens. In other words, living within the War on Terror means we're all Lindsey Graham." (09/23/14)

http://prospect.org/article/so-much-end-war-terror  

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No, Zephyr, Dems don’t need a civil war

September 23, 2014
posted by

Our Future Blog
by Bill Scher  

"No politician deserves immunity from primary challengers. Anyone has the right to run and make the case that he or she has superior ideas and positions. But is Teachout strategically correct? Is an army of primary challengers the wisest path to maximizing liberal influence within the Democratic Party? The recent history of the Republican Party suggests not. The GOP has been presiding over a low-grade civil war between purists and pragmatists for the last three election cycles, which has severely hampered the party’s effort to rehabilitate its brand following the George W. Bush presidency." (09/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/koafckl  

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Is “stranded costs” a euphemism for fat?

September 23, 2014
posted by

Reuters [UK]
by Rob Cox  

"In the electric utility industry, the term 'stranded costs' refers to past investments used to build infrastructure that, as a result of deregulation, may become redundant and of no value. The jargon has surfaced lately in a different, but no less electrifying, context: uppity investor Nelson Peltz’s siege of one of America’s most venerable corporations, DuPont. The billionaire is enlisting some controversial arithmetic to suggest the $65 billion chemicals giant has grown so bloated over the past 212 years that it can only be saved by being dynamited in two. Central to the thesis that Peltz’s Trian Fund Management has put forward to investors is a determination of whether the so-called stranded costs at DuPont are just a corporate euphemism for fat." (09/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pahqwmm  

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Congress should vote and say no to Obama’s new war

September 23, 2014
posted by

Ivan Eland Antiwar.com
by Ivan Eland  

"Not having reliable allies on the ground in either Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS severely limits the applicability of the Kosovo and Libya models to the current situation. A friendly ground force needs to locate targets for U.S. air power, 'fix' enemy forces on the ground for air strikes to have the maximum effect, and occupy ground abandoned by the enemy. The effectiveness of U.S. air power is lessened substantially without such dependable allies below, and the chance of a successful American war against ISIS is therefore greatly diminished. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that ISIS is only a regional threat, not a threat to U.S. territory." (09/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n2lguty  

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Apple still has plenty of your data for the feds

September 23, 2014
posted by

The Intercept
by Micah Lee  

"In a much-publicized open letter last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to protect user privacy with improved encryption on iPhones and iPads and a hard line toward government agents. It was a huge and welcome step toward thwarting the surveillance state, but it also seriously oversold Apple’s commitment to privacy." (09/22/14)

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/22/apple-data/  

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The persistence of mass incarceration

September 23, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch Counterpunch
by James Kilgore  

"Over the last four years, 'we have turned the corner' has become the dominant narrative on mass incarceration. The basis for this optimism appeared sound. From 2009-2012, total prisoner numbers were down nationally for the first time since the late 1970s, with the figures for Blacks behind bars also declining. Moreover, people in surprising places were making conciliatory noises. ... But last week, carceral optimism gave way to a much harsher reality. The Bureau of Justice’s annual statistical report on national prison population revealed that incarceration numbers were up for the first time since 2009." (09/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oy2bzgz  

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Keystone East: Not as reasonable as Reason thinks

September 23, 2014
posted by

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson  

"The Keystone XL pipeline is something no libertarian can support if consistency with free market principles matters. But that doesn't stop a lot of right-leaning self-proclaimed libertarians from instinctively defending it -- after all, anything that promotes fossil fuel use and gets environmentalists bent out of shape has to be 'libertarian,' right? Thus A. Barton Hinkle's 'Get Ready for Keystone Pipeline 2?' (September 15) in Reason magazine (motto: 'Free Minds and Free Markets')." (09/22/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/31991  

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Campaign 2014: Will Democrats get the message?

September 23, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Robert Borosage  

"This should be a Republican year. The incumbent party generally fares poorly in a bi-election in the sixth year of a presidency. The contested Senate seats are virtually all in red states that President Obama lost in 2012. The economy is still lousy, with nearly half of Americans thinking it is still in recession. Two-thirds of the country thinks we are on the wrong track. Obama’s approval numbers are in the pits. Now the president who was getting us out of the mess in the Middle East seems to be dragging us back in. But voters aren’t buying what Republicans are selling. The Senate races are still too close to call." [editor's note: Fascinating how Reason's Nick Gillespie wrote almost this same column today, aimed at the GOP contingent - SAT] (09/22/14)

 

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Are Apple and Google really on your side against the NSA?

September 23, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch
by Bill Blunden  

"Marketing spokesmen are eager to create the impression that companies are siding with users in the struggle against mass surveillance (never mind the prolific corporate data mining). Especially after business leaders denied participating in the NSA’s PRISM program. Yet the appearance of standing up to government surveillance is often a clever ploy to sell you stuff, a branding mechanism." (09/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p6kfasz  

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From Watts to Ferguson

September 23, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Rick Perlstein  

"It usually started with the police. In July of 1964, barely hours after the close of the Republican National Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater, 15-year-old James 'Little Jimmy' Powell was shot to death by an off-duty cop in an apartment building vestibule on East 76th Street in New York. Just as in the shooting of 25-year-old Kajieme Powell this past August 19 in St. Louis, the officer claimed that the victim had charged him with a knife, though eyewitnesses denied that. A bystander cried, 'Come on, shoot another nigger!' Within hours, Harlem was ablaze." (09/22/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17152/from_watts_to_ferguson  

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Germany exports massive amounts of arms, hypocrisy

September 23, 2014
posted by

Reuters [UK]
by Josef Joffe  

"Who is the world’s No. 3 arms exporter, after the United States and Russia? Surprise. It is Germany, a country bound by law to supply only allies and peaceable folks like (neutral) Switzerland or Sweden. Off limits are 'areas of tension' -- bad neighborhoods that actually need the stuff. Yet somehow, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both living in the world’s powder keg, are among Germany’s best customers. So are Algeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. What doesn’t go directly finds its way on the international arms bazaar. Consider, no self-respecting drug czar (Russian or Mexican) would flaunt a Czech-made 'Skorpion.' It has to be a Heckler & Koch MP-5, also much beloved by U.S. Special Operations forces." (09/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o5j5gto  

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Sex and secrets: The discourse is changing

September 22, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle
by Jon Carroll  

"I have been observing much of the NFL domestic violence/child abuse thing from afar. It seems like kind of a seminal moment, when these issues can really be talked about intensely and personally in public debate, and policies actually changed as a result. We’ll see. The NFL’s stance has been unconvincing, clueless and often nonexistent. It’s appointed a panel of all women (!) to propose new domestic-abuse policies for the league. They will be given 'free rein.' Also getting free rein: the in-house investigators, who are being 'overseen' by two owners. So we have lip service to women’s rights, and not much sentiment to punish the malefactors." (09/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o49za4l  

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A wake for Scottish independence

September 22, 2014
posted by

The Nation Blog
by D.D. Guttenplan  

"On Thursday night this old grimy stone city felt like a carnival. The leafy streets of Morningside kept their counsel behind drawn curtains, but in the working-class 'schemes' (as the Scots call their public housing) of Leith and in the tattered, fly-posted area around George Square there were bright blue balloons and painted faces and Yes buttons in blue (Nationalist), red (Radical Independence Campaign), pink (LGBT supporters) and green (Greens). Knots of excited young people caromed through the Grassmarket while high up the hill, under the brow of the Castle, someone had hung a washing line with three white shirts bearing the letters Y, E and S next to a sheet urging 'Vote With Clean Pants' -- a puzzling message until I realized the reference was to underwear (and the need to maintain intestinal fortitude)." (09/22/14)

http://www.thenation.com/blog/181692/wake-scottish-independence  

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Does America nave the greediest doctors?

September 22, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"[Saturday], The New York Times published a mind-boggling investigation into a way some physicians have found to hit patients with absolutely mind-boggling bills for not just routine procedures, but the involvement of doctors in their care that they neither asked for nor knew about until they got the bill. However widespread a practice this is, I'm going to argue that what we have here is not a few bad apples but a problem of culture. ... While this may not meet the definition of criminal fraud, it sure sounds like a scam. And if you thought I was going to blame it on our profit-driven health system, well you're right." (09/21/14)

http://prospect.org/article/does-america-have-greediest-doctors  

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Sign of progress

September 22, 2014
posted by

The Cagle Post
by Keith Knight  

Cartoon. (09/22/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/09/sign-of-progress/  

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The obsolescence of the nation-state

September 22, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Uri Avnery  

"Two countries competed this week for first place in news programs all over the world: Scotland and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. There could not be a greater difference than between these two countries. Scotland is damp and cold, Iraq is hot and dry. Scotland is called after its whisky (or the other way round), while for ISIS fighters, drinking alcohol is the mark of unbelievers, who should lose their head (literally). However, there is one common denominator of both crises: they mark the approaching demise of the nation-state." (09/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nhhcr4m  

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Time to jailbreak online education

September 22, 2014
posted by

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson  

"Online learning, whether for profit or not, is a marginal improvement over traditional universities. But like Uber and Lyft, it’s still stuck between two worlds, modeled on the legacy higher education system rather than emerging as the real networked, open-source thing we need to build." (09/19/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/31865  

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A summer of rubble

September 22, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Jane Miller  

"Like a flock of migrating birds, the world’s foreign correspondents move en masse and intrepidly from one trouble spot to another, leaving us with stories and pictures of unimaginable misery that are hard to forget. I dream of those hungry families huddled in the ruins of their homes in the shattered cities of Aleppo, Donetsk, Gaza. What’s happened to those families we saw? How can they even begin to rebuild their lives and their houses? But the reporters have moved on. They have another fish to fry, and so, of course, have we." (09/19/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17170/summer_of_rubble  

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