Not Just a Figurehead

If President Obama took the huge gamble of raiding Osama bin Laden in his hideout for the sake of justice, it would be hard to argue against it. The question was asked whether this was a mostly symbolic act, or a response to a still-active threat.

Maybe taking out a leader and planner has made the world a little safer…

The number of worldwide terror attacks fell to 10,283 last year, down from 11,641 in 2010 and the lowest since 2005, the State Department reported today.

What’s made the difference? The State Department cites the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda members killed last year including Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Anwar al-Awlaki, who was the head of Yemen’s Al Qaeda affiliate and had ties to the underwear bomber plot in 2010.

“The loss of bin Laden and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse,” the report stated.

It only takes one, and everything could change tomorrow. The real answer is to build alliances and discredit the gangs who turn mother’s sons into suicide bombers. You can’t kill an idea, but killing a man who devoted his life to making war can buy time for better ideas to replace an ideology of despair.

What’s Left for Nuclear?

War is one driver of innovation. After WWII scientists who developed nuclear weapons hoped to redeem the technology in peacetime by bringing us electricity too cheap to meter. That never quite materialized, and now the real cost is becoming impossible to deny.

From the Financial Times via CNN–

(Financial Times) — Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.

“It’s really a gas and wind world today,” said Jeff Immelt, referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries are shifting towards as natural gas becomes “permanently cheap”.

“When I talk to the guys who run the oil companies they say look, they’re finding more gas all the time. It’s just hard to justify nuclear, really hard. Gas is so cheap and at some point, really, economics rule,” Mr Immelt told the Financial Times in an interview in London at the weekend. “So I think some combination of gas, and either wind or solar … that’s where we see most countries around the world going.”

This would have developed faster if we had not had huge economic and political investment in nuclear power– artificially protecting and subsidizing a technological dead end. Diversification and smart technology are obvious answers that are becoming harder to ignore.

It was in the 70’s that I sat in a circle of Clamshell Alliance activists while a kid from Brown read us an industry financial report– in his translation of the technical terms, “the economics really suck too.”

Nearly forty years later, despite the power of a massive industry and the politicians it owns, the arguments against nuclear power are being made on the highest levels.

Natural gas will not solve the problem of carbon emissions, and mining it is a dirty process. Moving away from centralized energy and an economy based on endlessly expanding demand for more things is inevitable one way or another. We are already leaving a nuclear waste hazard for future generations. It will be good if we don’t create more.

Kiersten Marek:

Comments on Diane Ravitch’s blog result in a letter from the Anti-Defamation League…the teacher who made the comments speaks again.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

I mentioned in a post this morning that I had received a letter form the Anti-Defamation League warning that comments on my blog displayed “insensitivity” and that I should take this opportunity to warn readers about the dangers of “hurtful analogies,” especially in referring to Hitler and the Holocaust.

A reader wonders if he was the one who wrote the comment that was reported as offensive to the Anti-Defamation League:

I think that the comment referred to was mine. I am a teacher in one of the 24 “closed” NYC schools. I went back to look for what I actually wrote but could not find it but I definitely remember reading the comments after that post and being surprised at the reaction.First, let me say that I am also Jewish. Whichever members of my family remained in Poland at the start of the war, were totally wiped out in…

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Redcoats Insult Utah

In a brilliant diplomatic move, presidential candidate Mitt Romney got British Prime Minister David Cameron to admit how he really feels about one of our United States…

In a move that astonished Downing Street, hours before it laid on a special reception for Romney at No 10, he told NBC there were “disconcerting” signs about the preparations for the Games. One senior Whitehall source said: “What a total shocker. We are speechless.”

David Cameron wasted no time in rebuking Romney hours after his remarks were broadcast. On a visit to the Olympic Park, the prime minister said: “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

Cameron’s remarks were intended to be a light-hearted jibe at Romney, who used his famous management skills honed at Bain Capital to rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

‘Middle of nowhere???’ Romney skillfully maneuvered Cameron into revealing his simmering resentment at our historic anti-colonialism. Romney could have just used this trip to advance his campaign, but instead he is taking the lead in ferreting out potential enemies among those we thought were friends. Imagine what he would do as president. David Cameron owes Utah a public apology. And even though Utah is far away from Rhode Island, they don’t call us ‘United’ for nothing. I’m calling for a boycott of English muffins. Let’s hit them where it hurts.

Originally posted on Crossing the Border:

Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire TomalinJoyce Carol Oates reviews Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin in the New York Review of Books:

Is Dickens the greatest of English novelists? Few would contest that he is the most English of great English novelists, and that his most accomplished novels—Bleak HouseGreat ExpectationsLittle DorritDombey and SonOur Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield—are works of surpassing genius, thrumming with energy, imagination, and something resembling white-hot inspiration; his gift for portraiture is arguably as great as Shakespeare’s, and his versatility as a prose stylist is dazzling …

Dickens is so brilliant a stylist, his vision of the world so idiosyncratic and yet so telling, that one might say that his subject is his unique rendering of his subject, in an echo of Mark Rothko’s statement, “The subject of the painting is the painting”—except of course, Dickens’s great subject was…

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Kiersten Marek:

Diane Ravitch, via Jonathan Pelto, provides an excellent tutorial on the education reform politics going on in Connecticut

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A reader reminded me of a post by blogger Jonathan Pelto about Hartford, Connecticut, that shows how districts can “game the system” to meet testing target.

And that reminded me that Jon Pelto is someone you should know about. Subscribe to his blog if you want an insider’s view of education reform in Connecticut.

Pelto was a legislator for several years and cares passionately about public education. He knows how to follow the money and watches for conflict of interest and hidden lobbyists.

He has written many posts in opposition to Governor Dannel Malloy’s alliance with the hedge fund managers’ group called ConnCAN (now operating in other states as 50CAN). Pelto has called out all the players in the corporate camp, including the other Wall Street group called Democrats for Education Reform, the charter chain Achievement First, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, and Teach for America, all of which took a…

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