Archive | Op-Ed

Terrorists can be defeated by fighting fear with cooperation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Robert Imre, University of Newcastle

From anarchists in the 1920s and radical leftists in the 1960s, to fringe, extreme-right Christian bombers or gunmen in the United States in recent decades, or radical Islamists such as Islamic State today, terrorist groups have one thing in common. They seek to shock, while simultaneously portraying themselves as victims. While their beliefs can vary wildly, what they all share is the “propaganda of the deed” in their extreme violent activities.

Typically, political violence in the most extreme form – terrorism – usually will see groups fracture in to smaller sub-groups. Once violence is legitimated, it then becomes a way to settle internal disagreements as well.

Given that we have seen a number of terrorist groups come and go over the decades, it bears scrutiny how these various groups were successfully stopped, as well as where governments failed.… Read the rest

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The Hijacking of Philosophy

By dakine kane via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By dakine kane via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via Things That Shouldn’t Still Exist:

By my estimate, the majority of people who begin reading this are already of the opinion that philosophy is little more than a tedious form of mental masturbation, and worse, almost entirely useless.  My response:  I must sadly agree.  On the other hand, I only concede under the assumption we are speaking about 98% of the philosophy you learn in school and that most supposed “philosophers” choose to focus on.  Therefore, if you think philosophy sucks and has little bearing on anything real, I don’t blame you.  However, do read on as I would like to explain how it has been hijacked over the last 50 years.  In particular, the modern connotation of the word “philosophy” seems to largely exclude it’s most useful facet:  ethical philosophy, or as I refer to it, personal philosophy.

Below is a brief history on the progression of my thought processes and how I came to give a shit about any of this:

I can remember back to when I first began to have thoughts of depth.  My parents moved us out of state between fourth and fifth grade, so not only was I friendless, but also suddenly in the lowest grade at a brand new school.  Before that, I had lots of friends and mindless social interactions, but unlike the elementary grades, middle school was full of cliques.

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Islamic State wants Australians to attack Muslims: terror expert

 

Police outside one of the Sydney homes raided earlier today, which has prompted warnings against an anti-Muslim backlash. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Police outside one of the Sydney homes raided earlier today, which has prompted warnings against an anti-Muslim backlash. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

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

By Nick O’Brien
Former head of International Counter Terrorism in Special Branch at New Scotland Yard; Associate Professor Counter Terrorism at Charles Sturt University

It’s in the interests of Islamic State for Muslims in Australia to be attacked or for their mosques to be attacked, because doing so would help divide the Australian community. But we should be very clear: the only people who win if Australia is divided are the extremists.

The new allegations of a plot to kidnap and behead Australians as a way of supporting the Islamic State didn’t surprise me, because there was a similar plot in the UK about seven years ago. In that UK case, it was a plot to kidnap, torture and behead a British Muslim soldier, film it, and put it on the internet.… Read the rest

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Sack the Economists

SackMock-Up4

By Geoff Davies via Real-World Economics Review Blog:

Non-mainstream economists are all-too aware of the failure of mainstream economists to anticipate, let alone avoid, the Global Financial Crisis and the ensuing Great Recession.  The mainstream profession is also failing to fix the problem, and is actually making it worse.

It is hard to get alternative views heard, and the mainstream carries on almost totally unperturbed, despite being centrally responsible for a global disaster.  This is of course extremely frustrating.

After reading yet another cri de coeur from yet another frustrated economist, I thought perhaps we need to spell out the message in all bluntness: we need to sack the economists (the mainstreamers).  We also need to derail their baleful ideology.  That means we need to disband the departments of neoclassical economics, so the poison is not passed on to any more hapless generations.

When I say “we”, I really mean “we, the people”.  The job can’t be done by a small band of isolated reformers.  That means people need to be informed and persuaded.  They need to be spoken to in terms they understand;  not everyone, but opinion leaders and interested laypeople, of whom there are many.

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The Rise of the Barbarians and Why the United States Has Lost All Credibility

The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.  Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot

The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

– Hermann Goering

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.Read the rest

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A Case for Abolishing Juvenile Prisons

Juvenile Detention Center by Stuart McAlpine via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Juvenile Detention Center by Stuart McAlpine via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Sara Mayeux via The Awl (follow the link to read the rest of this piece, this article is long-ish):

Last month, archaeologists identified the first of the fifty-five human bodies recently exhumed at Florida’s Dozier School for Boys—a now-shuttered juvenile prison where, for decades, guards abused children, sometimes to death, despite cyclical scandals and calls for reform spanning almost a hundred years. Dozier represents an atrocious extreme, but the failures of America’s juvenile justice system are widespread. Whether labeled “boot camps,” “training schools,” “reformatories,” or other euphemisms, juvenile prisons have long harbored pervasive physical and sexual abuse. In one survey, twelve percent of incarcerated youth reported being sexually abused in the previous year—a figure that likely understates the problem.

During the “tough-on-crime” years of the eighties and nineties, states confined larger numbers of children than ever before, with the proportion of youth in prison reaching an all-time high in 1995.

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“Do What You Love” is Terrible Advice for Creative People

Artist at Work 2 by enjosmith via Flickr. CC by 2.0

Artist at Work 2 by enjosmith via Flickr. CC by 2.0

I’m curious to see what everyone here thinks about this.

via Medium:

Is there a more common piece of career advice today than “do what you love?” I’ve heard it for ages. I certainly think that being in a bad job can be soul-crushing experience, and that liking your work lightens your life considerably.

But in the course of studying the lives of creative people, I’ve come to the ironic conclusion that for writers, artists, and just about everyone, “do what you love” is actually terrible advice.

Here’s what’s wrong with it: it’s unnecessary.

The problem with the “do what you love” mantra is in how we follow it, which is with a single-mindedness that carries unnecessary risk. We interpret “do what you love” to mean “Do only what you love and nothing else,” and the implication of that is that if you don’t practice this kind of creative monogamy, you’re being untrue to yourself.

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Thoughts From a Conservative Mom Who Buys Weed For Her 12-year-old Son

Brett Levin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Brett Levin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

GB from xoJane via AlterNet:

To say I’m your standard Conservative Suburban Mom is probably an understatement.

I’ve voted with the GOP hardline in the last three elections (which is probably enough to get me burned at the stake with most of you reading this.) I wear sweater sets with pearls. We go to church every Sunday.

And I score drugs for my 12-year-old son.

Why yes, that is my SUV (with the “Romney 2012” bumper sticker) outside Milo’s cheesy college apartment, picking up this month’s supply. I always guiltily hit up 2 different ATMs to get the money, not wanting the nice girl at my bank branch to wonder why I’m always getting cash. I dose my son with a nice home-baked chocolate chunk cookie. (Important: keep those cookies in a separate jar.)

As a baby, my Matthew developed in a perfectly normal fashion.

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Hollywood Must Turn Its Head to Personalized Longevity Science instead of Anti-Aging Pseudoremedies

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I think Konovalenko hits the nail on the head when she says that celebrities are looking for quick solutions, but she fails to understand that that’s precisely why celebs don’t look to “personalized science” for answers. Our society is predicated on a fast, easy, and cheap mentality – a mentality that seems to be perpetuated by Western celebrity culture.

By Maria Konovalenko via The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

This attention-worthy article in The Hollywood Reporter signals that Hollywood people are ready and willing to do something about their longevity. The article mentions hormone replacement therapy, different check-ups and other things available in California, however completely misses 99% of what actually can be done about aging – science.

Why doesn’t the author talk about the work done at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, USC, UCLA and Stanford University?

People are looking for a ready solution, something that they can do today, and mistakenly dismiss science completely, because they think it is too far away for being applied to them.

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The Golden Age of Sexual Taboos: How Indie Movies Brought Deranged Sex Acts to the Big Screen

Still from Lars von Trier's Antichrist

Still from Lars von Trier’s Antichrist

Interesting read brought to you by Gary M. Kramer at Salon via AlterNet:

I recently wrote an article on ethical dilemmas in torture porn and received some rather extreme reactions. Given that two new films—James Franco’s “Child of God” and Kim Ki-duk’s “Moebius”–depict some rather extreme sexual activities, it seemed appropriate to consider how sexual taboos are depicted in indie films.  “Child of God” features a tender scene of necrophilia, as Lester Ballard (Scott Haze) makes love to the corpse of a young woman he finds in a car. And over the past few years, indie films have produced some of the most haunting, bizarre scenes of deranged sexual behavior in the history of cinema.

“Love Is a Mad Dog From Hell” (aka “Crazy Love”) (1987), by Belgian writer/director Dominique Deruddere, is an outstanding adaptation of a trio of Charles Bukowski stories. Unfolding as a triptych, the last and most provocative act has the main character, Harry Voss (Josse De Pauw), making love to a corpse he and his buddy have stolen.

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