Archive | Op-Ed

Being Uber Ain’t Easy: Why Drivers Should Support Regulation

ridesharing_is_cheap

The global pushback against Uber domination continues to gain momentum. Over the past few weeks, the ride-hailing app was banned in IndiaThailand and Francesuspended in Spain and challenged in BelgiumGermanythe Netherlands and South Korea. Across the US, local governments in OregonArizonaNevadaTexasPennsylvania and California are cracking down on the San Francisco-based behemoth, as well as its smaller rival, Lyft. Every day there are more and more articles in major news outlets documenting the growing rideshare backlash.

Uber responds to the lawsuits and rampant criticism with aplomb, holding the ship steady amid a tempest of dissent. They are always quick to fire back. When they’re not threatening journalists, they accuse city councils of subjecting them to unfair burdens. They claim their model of ridesharing is under attack by government overregulation. Since they profess to be a technology and not a transportation company, they argue they’re immune to the same laws that taxi companies must adhere to.

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Pakistan school attack: years of inaction on terror threat led to this atrocity

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Talat Farooq, University of Birmingham

The shock waves from a brutal terror attack that claimed the lives of more than 130 children in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar are being felt around the world.

The Taliban assault, which began on Tuesday morning, has claimed the lives of at least 141 people. Across social media people expressed their horror and sympathy. From Pakistan to the UK, relatives of children attending the Army Public School were anxiously awaiting news.

The attack is being seen as one of the worst in nearly a decade of unabated violence in the country that has killed more than 55,000 Pakistanis – most of whom were civilians.

The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has confirmed that it was responsible for the attack and said the school was hit in response to army operations that have been taking place in the tribal areas.… Read the rest

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Michael Brown, Bill Cosby, and Our Disturbing Relationship with Power

Photo: Protesters demonstrate against the shooting of Michael Brown, by Flikr user LightBrigading (via I’mNotTheNanny, licensed under creative commons).

Photo: Protesters demonstrate against the shooting of Michael Brown, by Flickr user LightBrigading (via I’mNotTheNanny, licensed under creative commons).

[Warning: this essay ended up being really long. What can I say? These are deep-seated issues, and much as I wish I could address them adequately with a few GIFs and a listicle, that’s just not going to happen. If you are opposed to reading long articles, turn back now. And if you’re one of those people who likes to open long articles just to leave complaints about how long they are, like some commenters on the last long piece I wrote here, this is your cue to skip straight to the comments section and complain away. You’re welcome.]

It’s rare for breaking news events to line up in any way that is truly meaningful. Though we are increasingly bombarded with updates from TV screens, smartphones and social media, and the occasional printed word, none of it seems to add up to anything.… Read the rest

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How We Lost Our “Freedom”

Jônatas Cunha CC BY-SA 2.0

Jônatas Cunha CC BY-SA 2.0

Andrew Levine writes at CounterPunch:

In Greek and Roman antiquity, “free” denoted a legal status; the opposite of “slave.” Independent political entities were also “free.” This usage never quite dropped away. Irish republicans, seeking independence from Britain, struggled to establish an “Irish free state.”   The national liberation movements of the latter half of the twentieth century shared this understanding.

In time, the underlying idea overflowed its origins. “Free” came to mean “independent” or “undominated,” irrespective of legal status. This was one of the ways it was understood when hundreds of thousands of African Americans and their allies in the Civil Rights movement marched for “freedom.”

Many of the most important political theorists in Europe in the early modern period understood freedom this way too. The strain of political theory they produced is called (small-r) “republican.”

The name is apt because, in addition to supplying its idea of freedom, the Roman republic, along with certain Greek city-states, inspired its leading thinkers’ visions of ideal political arrangements and their understandings of civic virtue.

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Ten Reasons Why I Don’t Have a Credit Card

Ralph Nader offers ten reasons why cash is better than plastic.  (Photo:  Sean MacEntee/flickr/cc)

Ralph Nader offers ten reasons why cash is better than plastic. (Photo: Sean MacEntee/flickr/cc)

Ralph Nader writes at Common Dreams:

At a recent American Antitrust Institute (AAI) symposium in Washington, D.C., I asked the presenters about the ability of cash and checks to compete with the credit card industry and its strict controls on merchants. This obvious point becomes less obvious when one takes into account the expanding exclusion of cash/check payments due to the overwhelming expansion of goods and services that you cannot buy unless you have a credit card or a friend with one whom you can reimburse.

When sending some types of express mail, renting a car, or paying for the services of airlines/trains or hotels, you either cannot pay with cash/check or it is a real hassle of inquiries and conditions. The overall trend is to limit more and more what legal tender can actually buy in America because of exclusionary fine print contracts (see faircontracts.org).

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Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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Playing Through the Pain

via Dystopia Diaries:

Emergency responders will tell you that pain is actually a good sign in trauma victims–the fact that nerves haven’t been destroyed leaves open the hope that injuries might be substantially repaired. But your typical lay person may not recognize this.

Andrea Tantaros doesn’t want to deal with this. She just wants the pain of America’s illegal and immoral torture programs to be over, hoping that simply shouting “America is awesome” will make it so. Although this attitude is dangerous and wrong-headed, she’s far from alone in this.

Contemporary society in general does not honor ‘playing through the pain’. It regards discomfort and inconvenience with unmitigated fear and disgust. It’s all a part of a consumerist world view that has rejected life in an infantile effort to ward off the inevitability of challenge and change; the only thing Americans value is immediate satisfaction of their personal wants.

Continue reading at Dystopia Diaries.… Read the rest

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America is Awesome! We are Awesome!

Mike Licht (CC BY 2.0)

Mike Licht (CC BY 2.0)

By now the news of the 600 page report on CIA torture commissioned by the Senate has been extensively covered by the media. Our wise pundits have fully chewed it up, digested it, and presented it much as anything else would appear after being chewed up and digested. I wish it were obvious that torture is a grotesque and inhumane practice that should never be done by any entity under any circumstance, but a large chunk of the mainstream media feels it necessary to defend torture (I’m sorry, “enhanced interrogation techniques”). Perhaps that’s because that large chunk of the media is itself also grotesque and inhumane.

But since I’ve been on something of an anti-nationalism kick of late, the one post-torture report that stood out the most to me was this one that Raw Story dug up, concerning a certain cable news network:

Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters told the hosts of Out Numbered that the American people did not need to know about torture at the CIA because “people do nasty things in the dark especially after a terrorist attack.”

Watters suggested that Democrats had released the report to coincide with the testimony of economist Jonathan Gruber, who outrage [sic] conservatives when he said that health care reform was passed using the “stupidity” of the American people.

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The Problem With Hugs

Ruth Fowler writes at CounterPunch:

By now we’ve all seen the viral image of a teenage black boy, tears streaming down his face, hugging a white police officer in riot gear. The image, taken from a Ferguson protest in Portland, Oregon will doubtless become as iconic as the photograph of 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir holding a flower up to the stony faces of the National Guard during a Vietnam war protest, or the unknown man standing alone in front of oncoming tanks in Tiananmen Square. The boy, Devonte Hart, has unwittingly become a symbol of hope and pacifism in the midst of growing fury over the failure of the Grand Jury to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown. It seems to suggest that if we all just stop for a moment, let down our guard, become human beings, show some love and face our own mortality, that this whole sorry mess might blow over.

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Porn Addicts Get No Respect

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Of all the addictions in the world the porn addict might have the least cachet of all.

Most other addictions at least offer the illusion of a modicum of glamor, in which the uninitiated can convince themselves that “wow that addiction sure looks fun.” This doesn’t hold true for the porn addict.

via Substance.com:

There are always people out there who look at sex addicts as glamorous in some way. I have had friends, coworkers, even therapists, who looked at my past as something to covet. They apparently think of me spending my days fucking an entire town full of beautiful women, smiling the whole time.

Of course this is ridiculous.

But there is one type of sex addict who does not have this problem, and that is the porn addict. Porn addicts don’t have it easy. They get no respect.

In 2007 I went to rehab because of sex addiction.

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