Now if only we can get the government to stand up to the NRA and pass some tough gun laws we’ll actually be making some progress in this country…
Little Connecticut’s big message on the death penalty
E.J. Dionne Jr. | Washington Post | 29 Apr 12
Since the 2010 elections, newly empowered conservative and Republican state legislatures have gained national attention with their wars on public employee unions, additional restrictions on abortion and new barriers to voting.
Against this backdrop, the little state of Connecticut has loomed as a large progressive exception. Last year, it became the first state to require employers to grant paid sick leave. It also enacted a law granting in-state tuition to students whose parents brought them to the United States illegally as young children.
And last week, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy signed a law repealing the state’s death penalty. There are now 17 states without capital punishment, Illinois having joined the ranks last year. What happened in Connecticut brings home the flaw in seeing everything that has happened in the states since the midterm vote as embodying a steady shift rightward.
An interesting article about the inexorable shift in global power. Nothing lasts forever including empires. I would pinpoint the start of America’s demise on the day when Charles Krauthhammer, spokesman for the Neocons in the Bush Administration declared, “We are the undisputed masters of the world…”
The Global Power Shift from West to East
Christopher Layne | The National Interest | 25 Apr 12
WHEN GREAT powers begin to experience erosion in their global standing, their leaders inevitably strike a pose of denial. At the dawn of the twentieth century, as British leaders dimly discerned such an erosion in their country’s global dominance, the great diplomat Lord Salisbury issued a gloomy rumination that captured at once both the inevitability of decline and the denial of it. “Whatever happens will be for the worse,” he declared. “Therefore it is our interest that as little should happen as possible.” Of course, one element of decline was the country’s diminishing ability to influence how much or how little actually happened.
We are seeing a similar phenomenon today in America, where the topic of decline stirs discomfort in national leaders. In September 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed a “new American Moment” that would “lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come.” A year and a half later, President Obama declared in his State of the Union speech: “Anyone who tells you that America is in decline . . . doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” A position paper from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated flatly that he “rejects the philosophy of decline in all of its variants.” And former U.S. ambassador to China and one-time GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman pronounced decline to be simply “un-American.”
In this video about life in occupied East Jerusalem the narrator says that there are crazy people in all communities. They are not the problem. The real enemy is the state which sanctions such violence in the name of religion. This is an incredible documentary about the day to day lives of people living in the cauldron of Jerusalem and discovering that ‘enemy’ is a very subjective term. What emerges is the realization that the greatest enemy is ignorance and religious zealotry and the cynical complicity of politicians who use this hatred to divide people or destroy them. It’s encouraging to know that in spite of the government’s complicity (including ours) in this ‘new apartheid’, this policy and the state that sanctions it are doomed…
Sheikh Jarrah, My Neighbourhood
Julia Bacha and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi | Al Jazeera | Apr 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Sheikh Jarrah, My Neighbourhood follows the story of Mohammad al-Kurd, a Palestinian teenager growing up in the midst of a remarkable nonviolent struggle at the centre of one of the world’s most contested cities. At the age of 13, Mohammad was evicted, along with his family, from their home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli settlers seeking to create a permanent Jewish presence in the area.
Albert Einstein is famous for saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This phrase comes to mind when listening to Mitt Romney talk about slashing government programs while lowering taxes for the rich. They called it ‘Trickle Down,’ remember? There is another Einstein quote which is not as well known but it’s equally appropriate. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
The Amnesia Candidate
Paul Krugman | NYTimes | 23 Apr 12
Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you’ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that’s a question you have probably asked many times.
But the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right — but not in the way he intended.
Every once in a while Tom gets it right. Like today. We now live in a country where the government can’t accomplish anything because everyone is against everyone else. In spite of this the government managed to pass a healthcare law that would benefit millions. Oops, the right-wing Supreme Court says it’s unconstitutional. No go. The bridges and roads across America are disintegrating but Congress cannot agree on how to fix them. The air traffic system is a Gordian knot of political confusion and technical gridlock. About the only thing this government can do well is inspect people’s underwear, launch new wars and get reelected. If I sound like a Tea Party fanatic I’m not. But sooner or later we’re going to have to come to grips with the dysfunctional system we have created and fix it. Hope I live to see it…
Down With Everything
Tom Friedman | NYTimes | 21 Apr 12
Does America need an Arab Spring? That was the question on my mind when I called Frank Fukuyama, the Stanford professor and author of “The End of History and the Last Man.” Fukuyama has been working on a two-volume opus called “The Origins of Political Order,” and I could detect from his recent writings that his research was leading him to ask a very radical question about America’s political order today, namely: has American gone from a democracy to a “vetocracy” — from a system designed to prevent anyone in government from amassing too much power to a system in which no one can aggregate enough power to make any important decisions at all?
“There is a crisis of authority, and we’re not prepared to think about it in these terms,” said Fukuyama. “When Americans think about the problem of government, it is always about constraining the government and limiting its scope.” That dates back to our founding political culture. The rule of law, regular democratic rotations in power and human rights protections were all put in place to create obstacles to overbearing, overly centralized government. “But we forget,” Fukuyama added, “that government was also created to act and make decisions.”
Although it is too early to make a judgement, it looks as if Israel’s Iran policy has back-fired and may result in a very different outcome from the one Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has long sought.
Israel’s thinking these past three years has been that punitive sanctions, cyber warfare and the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists must eventually force a crippled Islamic Republic to agree to ‘zero enrichment’ of uranium – that is to say to dismantle its entire nuclear programme. This, it was hoped, would open the way for ‘regime change’ in Tehran.
I’m a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson. In addition to being a brilliant presenter he also has some keen insights into about how we live and operate. This video, taken at a remarkable place in London called The School of Life, is not exactly a sermon though it has the trappings of one. In his talk, Robinson discusses what it is that makes certain people thrive while others simply plod along in life. Toward the end of this one-hour “chat” he also talks about the implications of raising kids in rigid educational molds versus allowing them the freedom to discover and exploit their own innate qualities. Like all of Robinson’s presentations this session leaves you chuckling and resolved to see things a bit differently…
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
Sir Ken Robinson | The School of Life | Apr 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Founded in September 2008 by an eclectic group of London writers, artists and friends, amongst whom the philosopher Alain de Botton, The School of Life offers night classes on a variety of topics with the unifying goal to satisfy its students’ hunger for a more meaningful life.
Interestingly this criticism of Romney is not coming from some left-wing superpac or even Rachel Maddow. The author is a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and used to write speeches for George Bush. Kind of makes you wonder what other secrets Mitt has doesn’t it…
Romney is walking into Obama’s ‘secrecy’ attack
Marc Thiessen | Washington Post | 16 Apr 12
Mitt Romney handed President Obama a political gift this weekend, when his campaign announced that he would not file his tax return on time. Romney made the announcement at 5 p.m. on Friday — the time politicians usually put out bad news they hope no one will notice. Team Obama noticed all right. The president took a break from the Summit of the Americas in Colombia to criticize Romney’s lack of transparency, while Obama campaign manager Jim Messina declared that it “begs the question — what does he have to hide?”
You may not be an aeronautical engineer but this video will interest you anyway. When we were sailing we learned that the reason we could go from here to there was because Bernoulli said we could. Turns out he may have been wrong. Or at least our understanding of what he said may be wrong. If all this sounds a bit odd just watch this fascinating video about how to fold paper and make it fly better than a butterfly…
“The Paper Airplane Guy”
Will Smith and Norman Chan | Tested.com | 27 Mar 12
________________________________________________________________________________ John Collins folds paper airplanes for a living, and recently designed a plane that broke the world record for longest flight. Here, he shares a few of his secrets and favorite creations.