Tag Archives: privatization

Give That Young Man His Due

29 May

Asean JohnsonAsean Johnson has a talent for advocacy and had some good teachers.

Some called for the boy to run for mayor. Others reached further, suggesting he could run for president. (Because of his age, he wouldn’t be eligible until 2039.) As for Asean Johnson, he said he might consider a run, but honestly, he’d rather be a professional football player.

“President would be my second choice,” he said on a recent day, taking a break from the playground at his Far South Side school, Garvey Elementary. “And I might want to be a scientist or a lawyer. Those are going to be my two backup plans.”

The reed-thin boy with big ears and gap teeth shot to celebrity last week when a video of him speaking passionately on behalf of his school went viral on YouTube. As of Friday night, the three-minute clip had been viewed 153,000 times, by people as far away as China and Australia.

Enjoy the speech – until the school year ends and schools close.

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CIA’s Dirty Scalpel

11 Apr

Frank ChurchMore and more I feel as if I live in a period of time, when vendetta is the moral code. In this case, the Central Intelligence Agency is getting payback for the reforms in the 1970s that unsuccessfully tried to trim its power.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, the title, The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, what’s the knife?

MARK MAZZETTI: The title is drawn from—it’s a departure from an analogy used by John Brennan, who is now the CIA director, but he gave a speech several years ago where he talked about—he was comparing the big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to these other kind of shadow wars, and he talked about instead of using a hammer, the United States will use a scalpel. And as I write in the book, the scalpel, of course, implies a surgical form of doing warfare or a war without costs and blunders or surgeries without complications. Knife fights are messier. And the—I chose the knife as a way to sort of describe this way of doing warfare that has benefits but also has costs.

AMY GOODMAN: And the secret army you’re referring to?

MARK MAZZETTI: Partly it’s the CIA, but it’s also partly the special operations troops who have expanded their authorities and expanded their missions around the world. And one of the sort of themes I talk about in the book is this great convergence that’s happened over the last 12 years since 9/11, where you had the CIA increasingly doing killing and the military increasingly doing spying. And so, you have the—the secret armies are those who are carrying out these missions outside of declared war zones.

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Stepping Back From Hurricane Sandy’s Onslaught

1 Nov

paddler_slideshowIt’s clear director Oliver Stone is no scientist.

Stone is an equal opportunity critic, arguing that neither Obama nor Mitt Romney tackled climate change in a substantive way. “I was a little disappointed at the third debate when neither of them talked about climate control and the nature of the situation on Earth,” Stone said. “I think there’s kind of a weird statement coming right after … this is a punishment … Mother Nature cannot be ignored. That’s all I thought about.”

I’m glad Stone is still making movies and talking loud. But, ‘punishment”? That’s theodicy, not science. Talk of divine justice distracts from understanding if Hurricane Sandy, whose high winds and assorted forms of precipitation –yes, snow – have caused 40 deaths and $20 billion of structural damage, according to PBS, was a freak of climate change. Such incendiary speech also makes it impossible for public officials to devise ways to ameliorate the causes of catastrophes.

We do not know whether superstorms like Sandy are harbingers of a “new normal” in the uneasy and unpredictable relationship between climate change and extreme weather events. That does not mean that there is not or cannot be such a connection, but rather that the scientific research needed to prove (or disprove) it must still be conducted. That is how good science works. Sandy has provided a powerful demonstration of the need to support it.

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