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.
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.
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 the camps. I am also a history buff, I read and make analogies. (Obviously, I am a product of a great public education, Thomas Jefferson HS, Brooklyn, NY.) If I offended anyone by my comparisons I am sorry, but I do not withdraw my statements. Let me instead, back them up.
I typically refer to the Holocaust and our situation in 2 ways and I don’t remember which I used in that previous post. First, I believe that our mayor, his flunkies, and all those trying to tear down public education are using what my World History text back in 1962, called the “Big Lie” technique. Tell a lie often enough and boldly enough and even those who know it is a lie will back down. Hitler and Stalin were both masters of the “Big Lie” and used it to secure and maintain their power. The “Big Lie” technique includes scapegoating. Again, as a Jew I am particularly sensitive about scapegoating but now, as a teacher being scapegoated, I think I have have an even better understanding of what my Jewish/Polish/Austrian family and their friends felt as they heard Hitler rant about how the Jews were responsible for every bad thing in post WW I Germany. Yes, I know that there are (currently) no camps to be transported to, but the lie still hurts every time I hear it.
This leads into the second way I draw analogies to the Holocaust. As I said above, my family split just about the time of WW I. One branch came to America, the other branch stayed in Poland and Austria and were decimated. My grandma spoke German as well as Yiddish and English. Even after the holocaust, she proudly referred to our family as Austrian. From her, from other friends and family and from my reading I have learned that most German and Austrian Jews thought of themselves as Germans. Even as the Nuremberg laws went into effect, even as Kristal Nacht destroyed their businesses and homes, they told themselves that they were good Germans, important to the Reich and the minority of hotheads will eventually see this and respect them for the contributions that they made to their country. Many Jews continued this denial until they were packed off to the camps.
A few days before the end of this school year, as we were sitting in the heat grading the Regents exams, my colleagues and I were being told our fate by those involved in this ridiculous hiring system. I know that the ones not hired are not going to camps but the damage to their spirits was still substantial. These are people who have been teaching for 10 even 15 years. One of the main centerpieces of their identity is teacher, right up there with mother, father, Jew, Christian or other identity labels. This central part of their identity was ripped out unjustly and with violence. Not the violence of guns but more like the violence of the Judensau when Jews were forced to bend down and kiss the statue of a pig for only one purpose . . . public humiliation. Teachers were being divided into 2 lines. The “effective” teachers who were staying and the “ineffective” teachers with astonishment and tears in their eyes who could not understand this injustice that had been done to them. As my friends and colleagues were told their fate my thoughts went back to the words of Victor Frankl, a survivor of the camps who said, “the best of us did not survive.”
No, I don’t expect the Brown Shirts to be knocking on my door tonight. In fact, as much as I think teachers are being falsely scapegoated and blamed for things beyond our control, I think the real holocaust (note the lower case) is being carried out against the children of NYC. Under performing students need smaller classes which means more teachers. They also need more experienced teachers. Privatizing education siphons off money that should be going to the children and sends it to overpaid CEOs and shareholders of these charter businesses. Thomas Jefferson saw public education as necessary to maintain a democracy. Wouldn’t it be terrible if after true public education is gone we discover that Jefferson was right.
I could go on about the economics of fascism as taught to me by Mr. Kraft in the 5th grade, Mr. Hudesman in the 7th grade and Mr. Horowitz in the 10th grade (great teachers among other great teachers who I remember fondly) how we can draw parallels to big business today, but this is already a very long post so I shall stop now.
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:
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 House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Our 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 nothing so subjective or so exclusionary, but as much of the world as he could render. If Dickens’s prose fiction has “defects”—excesses of melodrama, sentimentality, contrived plots, and manufactured happy endings—these are the defects of his era, which for all his greatness Dickens had not the rebellious spirit to resist; he was at heart a crowd-pleaser, a theatrical entertainer, with no interest in subverting the conventions of the novel as his great successors D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf would have; nor did he contemplate the subtle and ironic counterminings of human relations in the way of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, who brought to the English novel an element of nuanced psychological realism not previously explored. Yet among English writers Dickens is, as he once called himself, part-jesting and part-serious, “the inimitable.”
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.
Arrghh!!! That’s Anglo-Saxon for ‘I’d better get off this laptop and be at work on time if I want to stay employed.’
I love being surrounded by history. My church, First Unitarian, has a bell forged by Paul Revere and Sons.
We all remember the famous poem about Paul Revere’s midnight ride. He bravely raced to warn the Redcoats that anti-colonialist insurgents were massing in the towns planning to overturn the legitimate Anglo-Saxon reign of, God bless him, King George.
Sadly, the loyalists failed, and instead of just being chill, like Canada, we had an American Revolution. This is a deep national embarrassment, and we never finish apologizing for it when one of our candidates goes to solicit the English vote.
What? They can’t vote here? Even the Anglo-Saxons? Well, they can send some of those British pounds to the campaign. That counts more than votes anyway. And lots of their people have dual citizenship, like that really big person, Newscorp.
There’s lots of history nerds in Britain, and The Guardian gets all technical about the successive invasions that hit their isles through history.
Speaking of invasions, I’m not sure I can really get into the Anglo Saxon thing– my ancestors having emmigrated to escape starvation during the Irish Famine. But I’m not holding a grudge. Don’t push it, though. And the Saxons? Weren’t a lot of them Germans? The US has strong connections to Germany, so maybe that country is next on the campaign trail.
What confuses me is why brilliant thinkers like Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich and that guy on the Romney campaign talk like anti-colonialism is a bad thing. And like we never had issues with the British.
Next summer should we have a pageant where the Redcoats rescue the Gaspee from burning and throw the insurgents in Guantanamo? It’s not like history hasn’t been re-written before.
Here’s an eye-opener from Vermont’s Bernie Sanders: a report on the 26 men who have spent $61 Billion dollars in this year’s election.
Here is a list of the billionaires:
1. Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, is worth nearly $25 billion, making him the 14th wealthiest person in the world and the 7th richest person in America.
While median family income plummeted by nearly 40% from 2007-2010, Mr. Adelson has experienced a nearly eightfold increase in his wealth over the past three years (from $3.4 billion to $24.9 billion).
Forbes recently reported that Adelson is willing to spend a “limitless” amount of money or more than $100 million to help defeat President Obama in November.
While $100 million sounds like a lot, it equals the same percentage of Adelson’s wealth that $300 to $400 does for the typical middle class family (with a net worth of about $77,000).
Sheldon Adelson owns more wealth than the bottom 40.2% of American households or 47.2 million American families.
2. The Kochs (David, Charles, and William) are worth a combined $103 billion, according to Forbes. They have pledged to spend about $400 million during the 2012 election season.
The Kochs own more wealth than the bottom 41.7 percent of American households or more than 49 million Americans.
3. Jim Walton is worth $23.7 billion. He has donated $300,000 to super PACs in 2012.
4. Harold Simmons is worth $9 billion. He has donated $15.2 million to super PACs this year.
5. Peter Thiel is worth $1.5 billion. He has donated $6.7 million to Super PACs this year.
6. Jerrold Perenchio is worth $2.3 billion. He has donated $2.6 million to super PACs this year.
7. Kenneth Griffin is worth $3 billion and he has given $2.08 million to super PACs in 2012.
8. James Simons is worth $10.7 billion and he has given $1.5 million to super Pacs this year.
9. Julian Robertson is worth $2.5 billion and he has given $1.25 million to super PACs this year.
10. Robert Rowling is worth $4.8 billion and he has given $1.1 million to super PACs.
11. John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made his fortune betting that the sub-prime mortgage market would collapse, is worth $12.5 billion. He has donated $1 million to super PACs.
12. Richard and J.W. Marriott are worth a combined $3.1 billion and they have donated $2 million to super PACs this year.
13. James Davis is worth $1.9 billion and he has given $1 million to super PACs this year.
14. Harold Hamm is worth $11 billion and he has given $985,000 to super PACs this year.
15. Kenny Trout is worth more than $1.2 billion and he has given $900,000 to super PACs this year.
16. Louis Bacon is worth $1.4 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
17. Bruce Kovner is worth $4.5 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
18. Warren Stephens is worth $2.7 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
19. David Tepper is worth $5.1 billion and he has given $375,000 to super PACs this year.
20. Samuel Zell is worth $4.9 billion and he has given $270,000 to super PACs this year.
21. Leslie Wexner is worth $4.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
22. Charles Schwab is worth $3.5 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
23. Kelcy Warren is worth $2.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
Big news for schools in NY as judge rules 24 NYC schools cannot be closed, since it violates the contract.
Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:
The city and the teachers’ union went to court to battle over the city’s plan to “turnaround” 24 schools by firing thousands of teachers.
The judge listened to the arguments, retired to her chambers, and returned seven minutes later to say that she was sustaining the arbitrator’s decision. The city may not lay off the teachers. It violates their contract.
This battle involves more than 3,000 teachers and 30,000 students. No one is sure how the schools will be staffed when schools opens in a few weeks. No one knows which teachers have found other jobs and which will return.