BETHANY CARLSON, RACHEL SANDSTROM and ROB GOFFINS – What does Benton County GMO measure 2-89 do? What are the pros and cons?
DAVID SWANSON – Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.
STEVEN PIFER – On March 23, 1983, Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as “Star Wars.” After thirty-two years and tens of billions of dollars, defending the U.S. homeland against attack by strategic ballistic missiles still poses a daunting challenge. Missile defense ambitions have been regularly scaled-back. The United States should make prudent investments in missile defense as part of its overall force mix. But Washington should bear in mind the limits of technology and the nature of the relationship between offense and defense, in which offense has and, for the foreseeable future will retain, the advantage.
DAVID RAGLAND – When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.
ERIKA SIMPSON – The most high-profile nuclear issue is the interim accord between Iran and six world powers to restrict Iran’s development of nuclear power. And if the fundamentals of the Iranian deal could be treated as a template for all countries, the international community would be well on its way to choking off the supply of weapons-usable material everywhere.
TOM H. HASTINGS – How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football. The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenges and social meaning for many of us.
JOHN HORGAN – Fisticuffs have broken out in The Guardian between two intellectual big shots, philosopher John Gray and psychologist Steven Pinker. The fight, which features lots of rhetorical flourishes and high dudgeon, addresses a serious issue: Is humanity achieving moral progress? Or, as Gray would put it, “progress”? More specifically, are we becoming less violent? I’ve written about this question myself, so in this post I’ll try to adjudicate the dispute, indicating what each scholar gets right and wrong.
ROBERT R. HOLT – In May 1946, The New York Times reported that Albert Einstein had sent a telegram appeal to several hundred prominent Americans, asking for contributions to a fund “to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential” in the atomic age. Einstein wrote in his telegram: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” It is clear from other statements made by Einstein that the new thinking he called for was to abandon competition and the preparation for war, and to focus instead on cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Einstein added that, to be successful, such changes presupposed the eventual creation of a world government.
ROBERT F. DODGE, M.D. – Following the arrival of spring each year, our nation renews its commitment to our priorities on Tax Day, April 15th, from education to health care, infrastructure and national defense. Included among these expenditures are nuclear weapons programs—weapons that can not and must not ever be used. The funding for these programs, while more transparent than in the past, is still quite secretive. From the beginnings of our nuclear programs in 1940 we have spent as a nation in excess of $6 trillion dollars on them. This Tax Day we will spend ~$56.3 billion more on these same programs. From Los Angeles County’s expenditure of $1.785 billion to our nations capitol at $107 million, these are monies that we can ill afford to spend.
ANDREW J. BACEVICH – Policy intellectuals — eggheads presuming to instruct the mere mortals who actually run for office — are a blight on the republic. Like some invasive species, they infest present-day Washington, where their presence strangles common sense and has brought to the verge of extinction the simple ability to perceive reality. A benign appearance — well-dressed types testifying before Congress, pontificating in print and on TV, or even filling key positions in the executive branch — belies a malign impact. They are like Asian carp let loose in the Great Lakes.
MARC GUNTHER – The EPA’s Clean Power Plan might be the only hope the US has to make a real dent in the climate change battle. So why aren’t more companies onboard? Many environmental groups consider the Obama administration’s plan to regulate carbon-spewing coal plants, which aims to cut carbon pollution by 30%, as one of our last chances to win the fight against climate change. But the vast majority of their top corporate partners – companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, FedEx, UPS, Target and Walmart, which have worked with environmental NGOs for years – aren’t backing them up, according to a Guardian survey.
JONATHON TASINI – This is an advanced January 2015 version of the confidential draft treaty chapter from the Investment group of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks between the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam. The treaty is being negotiated in secret by delegations from each of these 12 countries, who together account for 40% of global GDP. The chapter covers agreements on investments from one TPP nation to another, including empowering foreign firms to “sue” other states’ governments, as well as regulations around investor-state dispute settlements and tribunals. This document was prepared by TPP investment chapter negotiators in advance of the informal round of negotiations held in New York City 26th January to 1st February, 2015.
CRAIG CLINE – We humans are the most powerful members of the animal kingdom. Let us unite in both seeing “animal wrongs” and in acting to DO SOMETHING about them. Let’s become vegans and apply our Golden Rule to ALL animals, humans and non-humans alike.
PATRICK MARTIN – [January 3, 2015] Last month President Obama dispatched a formal letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, listing a series of countries where US troops were or have been engaged in military operations during 2014. The preamble explains that the document is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.” If one combines the operations reported in this letter with published reports about the deployment of US troops in supposed noncombat situations, as well as joint military exercises with NATO countries and other US allies, it is possible to present a picture of the vast worldwide scope of US military activities in the course of last year.
MATEA GOLD – A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But it’s not.