Archive | Op-Ed

What do Occupy and the Tea Party have in Common? More than you Might Think.

In an article entitled “The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare)” Robert Reich outlines six points of agreement between “Occupy” leftists and the “Tea Party” right:

[Editor's note: We only took the first few sentences of each point, follow the link to read the entire article.]

1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where they’re no longer too big to fail. Left populists have been advocating this since the Street’s bailout now they’re being joined by populists on the right.

2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking and thereby preventing companies from gambling with their depositors’ money. Elizabeth Warren has introduced such legislation, and John McCain co-sponsored it. Tea Partiers are strongly supportive, and critical of establishment Republicans for not getting behind it.

3. End corporate welfare – including subsidies to big oil, big agribusiness, big pharma, Wall Street, and the Ex-Im Bank.… Read the rest

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Why Aristotle Deserves A Posthumous Nobel

aristotle

via The Daily Beast:

Shortly before his death in 1882, Charles Darwin received a letter from a physician and classicist named William Ogle. It contained Ogle’s recent translation of Aristotle’s The Parts of Animals and a brief letter in which he confessed to feeling “some self-importance in thus being a kind of formal introducer of the father of naturalists to his great modern successor.”

Aristotle is not typically remembered as the father of naturalists, but Darwin acknowledged a line of intellectual descent. “I had not the most remote notion of what a wonderful man he was,” Darwin wrote of Aristotle in his reply to Ogle. “Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they were mere school-boys to old Aristotle.”

A fascinating new book by the evolutionary biologist and science writer Armand Marie Leroi claims that Aristotle fully deserves Darwin’s high praise. In The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science, Leroi argues that Aristotle developed many of the empirical and analytical methods that still define scientific inquiry.

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The Just World Fallacy

Logo of the Conservative Party

Logo of the Conservative Party

Kitty S. Jones writes:

The Tories now deem anything that criticises them as “abusive”. Ordinary campaigners are labelled “extremists” and pointing out flaws, errors and consequences of Tory policy is called “scaremongering”. Language and psychology are a powerful tool, because this kind of use “pre-programs” and sets the terms of any discussion or debate. It also informs you what you may think, or at least, what you need to circumnavigate first, in order to state your own account or case. This isn’t simply name-calling or propaganda: it’s a deplorable and tyrannical silencing technique.

The government have [sic] a Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), which is comprised of both behavioural psychologists and economists, which apply positivist (pseudo)psychological techniques to social policy. They produce “Positive psychology” courses which the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are using to ensure participants find satisfaction with their lot; the DWP are also using psychological referral with claims being reconsidered on a mandatory basis by civil servant “decision makers”, as punishment for non-compliance with the new regimes of welfare conditionality for which people claiming out of work benefits are subject.

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How the World Let the Ebola Epidemic Spiral Out of Control

By NIAID via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By NIAID via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Well, as the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20…

via The Nation:

Before Ebola became an epidemic that has killed more than 3,400 people, before it jumped borders and crossed oceans, it was a deadly, if rare, disease that had been contained during each of its twenty-four previous outbreaks. This is crucial to remember as the disease churns through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, because it underscores a troubling conclusion: today’s wildfire Ebola epidemic was not inevitable.

Despite its frightening virulence, Ebola can be contained through robust public health efforts. It thrives in chaotic and impoverished environments where public health systems are frayed and international assistance weak. Though experts will debate the roots of this current crisis for years, one point on which many agree is that local poverty and global indifference played starring roles. “This isn’t a natural disaster,” international health crusader Paul Farmer toldThe Washington Post.

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Columbus Day and the Sanitization of History

851px-Christopher_Columbus

The strife that has engulfed Christopher Columbus’s legacy in recent years has put the concept of an Indigenous People’s Day at the forefront of discussion.

In theory, as we move forward in our lives, we should make every effort to broaden our perspective and to seek out the truth. As we mature so should our thought process. Such maturation holds true on both an individual and a societal basis. A broad understanding of history enables one to reconcile the past, comprehend the present, and reasonably theorize how future events may unfold. As truths are discovered, norms begin to shift. Such forthright thinking is necessary to fully grasp the complexities of historical events and figures. This is particularly true with respect to the legacy of Christopher Columbus. A polarizing historical figure whose life has been defined, by many, for his astonishing level of courage and intestinal fortitude; nevertheless, such impressive traits should never blur the fact that he oversaw a murderous quest for material riches that resulted in the utter demise of a people.… Read the rest

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Collective Trauma and the Politics of Fear in Israel

800px-Israel_and_Palestine_Peace

The pursuit of “peace” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should mean much more than the cessation of violence. It should mean more than the locations of borders, ensuring security, the status of Jerusalem, the right of refugees to return, ending the Gaza blockade or Israel withdrawing from the West Bank. A lasting peace can only be established on the basis of justice for both peoples. This first requires understanding the collective consciousness of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians and the historical roots from which those perspectives have grown.

From the Israeli perspective, since declaring independence in May 1948, Israel has fought six wars, two intifadas, the omnipresent threat of terrorism, and the possibility of nuclear war, all in the name of self-defense against enemies intent on eliminating its existence. Today, a little over 6 million Israeli Jews see themselves entrenched in a militarily sophisticated but precarious fortress state surrounded by 320 million (mostly) hostile Muslims ready to attack should the opportunity arise.… Read the rest

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Was it Liberals that Led America to Having an Incredibly High Prison Rate?

41OIW42NzcLvia AlterNet:

The United States has five percent of the world’s population, but houses 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

Conventional wisdom has it that it is the systemic, widening, and tightening grip of conservatives, particularly racist Republicans and Southern Democrats, over the years that led to such high numbers. Prison is no longer simply confined to four walled buildings or any other manifestation of the judicial system. Today, everyday institutions like schools and hospitals are subject to surveillance and punitive regimes, and the very definition of crime has expanded such that jumping a turnstile can mean a jail sentence. All of this is part of what theorists of prison call the carceral state; the overwhelming presence of the criminal legal system in our daily lives. It is now challenging to not commit a crime of some magnitude somewhere, and it is all but impossible to escape the system of judicial oversight without feeling the effects over the course of one’s lifetime.

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Should we abolish work?

By JD Hancock via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By JD Hancock via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions

I seem to work a lot. At least, I think I work a lot. Like many in the modern world, I find it pretty hard to tell the difference between work and the rest of my life. Apart from when I’m sleeping, I’m usually reading, writing or thinking (or doing some combination of the three). And since that is essentially what I get paid to do, it is difficult to distinguish between work and leisure. Of course, reading, writing and thinking are features of many jobs. The difference is that, as an academic, I have the luxury of deciding what I should be reading, writing and thinking about. This luxury has, perhaps, given me an overly positive view of work. But I confess, there are times when I find parts of my job frustrating and overbearing.Read the rest

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Op-ed: The Plot Against Public Education

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Politico Magazine:

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big.

When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to do with matters of important public policy and the billionaire is willing to back it up with hard cash, public officials tend to reach for the money with one hand and their marching orders with the other. Gates backed his small-schools initiative with enormous amounts of cash. So, without a great deal of thought, one school district after another signed on to the notion that large public high schools should be broken up and new, smaller schools should be created.

This was an inherently messy process. The smaller schools—proponents sometimes called them academies—would often be shoehorned into the premises of the larger schools, so you’d end up with two, three or more schools competing for space and resources in one building.

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Chomsky: The Crass and Brutal Approach Used to Keep Gaza Mired in Misery

By Andrew Rusk via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Andrew Rusk via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via AlterNet:

On Aug. 26, Israel and the Palestinian Authority both accepted a cease-fire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind.

The agreement calls for an end to military action by Israel and Hamas as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

This is, however, just the most recent of a series of cease-fire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza.

Since November 2005 the terms of these agreements have remained essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it – as Israel has conceded – until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality.

These escalations are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.

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