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From User: Decius

Current Topic: Current Events

YouTube - Crisis on Wall Street - Gold Star
Topic: Current Events 12:58 pm EDT, Oct  1, 2008

Princeton economists review recent events on Wall Street and assess the implications for the economy and public policy.

If you are short on time, you might consider skipping to Krugman at 50:00...

YouTube - Crisis on Wall Street - Gold Star

The War as We Saw It - New York Times
Topic: Current Events 11:21 am EDT, Sep 14, 2007

What soldiers call the “battle space”... is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army...

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear....

Two of the authors of this essay were KIA on Monday.

The War as We Saw It - New York Times

RE: wde_IllegalsDontGetIt-520x414.jpg (JPEG Image, 520x414 pixels)
Topic: Current Events 6:42 am EDT, May  2, 2007

Catonic wrote:
Succinct and to the point.

Ok, I'll bite. This "illegal is illegal" talk on the part of the anti-illegal immigration movement, far from being "succinct and to the point," represents 3 basic logical fallacies, its a straw man argument, its an over simplification, and it represents circular reasoning.

1. The Straw Man Argument: "My opponent argues that illegal immigration isn't illegal. Clearly that position is wrong, as evidenced by the fact that illegal immigration is, by definition, illegal. Therefore, my opponent is wrong and my views on the issue are correct."

No one is, in fact, arguing that illegal immigration isn't illegal. Demonstrating this rather obvious point does not collapse the debate, but rather, it avoids the debate. There are some who suggest that some kinds of illegal immigration shouldn't be illegal. As laws are a matter of policy, discussing what they should and should not be is, in fact, the purpose of political dialog in a Democracy.

2. The Over Simplification: All crimes are not equal. Both murder and jay walking are illegal, but they are not similarly serious crimes. Saying that "illegal is illegal" is precisely the same thing as saying that "jay walking is just like murder."

Most of the debate regarding illegal immigration concerns the perception on the right that illegal immigration is a crime like murder, and we should devote huge amounts of resources to stopping it and severly punish those who commit it, and the perception on the left that illegal immigration is a crime like jay walking, which while illegal does not warrant severe punishments or huge investments in policing. The statement that "illegal is illegal" contributes nothing to understanding where in the spectrum between these two positions our policy should lie, other than to argue that the United States should treat all crimes exactly the same way and should hand out exactly the same punishments for all crimes, which is ridiculous on it's face.

3. Circular Reasoning: Many people in the anti-illegal immigration movement start their argument by claiming that they are upset by illegal immigration because it is illegal. A good litmus test is to ask whether they would support creating a legal process for short term immigration by manual laborers. The answer is consistently no. Which means the REAL problem isn't that its illegal, as we get to decide whether or not its illegal (see point one). The real problem is something else, and by focusing on the legality rather than on the something else that actually motivates them, they fail, again, to contribute to the discussion in a useful way.

Now I'll be the first to agree with the general statement that "we have a problem with illegal immigration in this country." There simply should not be 12 million people living here illegally. It does not follow directly from that observation that the right answer is a "crackdown." There ar... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

RE: wde_IllegalsDontGetIt-520x414.jpg (JPEG Image, 520x414 pixels)

Topic: Current Events 5:35 am EDT, Apr 20, 2007

This is what I don't get... I go to CNN the other day and they have a picture of the VT killer pointing a gun at the camera.... On their main page above the fold, pointing a gun at me. And I have to look at that. And that's "journalism." That's "my right to know." But at the same time, in his rant, he says things like fuck, and motherfucker, and I can't see that. I don't get to hear that. The media has protected me from that. And thats supposed to make sense. Its supposed to be natural for the media to want to protect my innocent ears from hearing the word fuck, but it is their obliglation to show me a shocking photograph of a murderer pointing a hand gun at a camera. On their front page.

Do you think normal people are sane?

Here is another thing I don't get. We used to be a free country. It used to be the case that if the President felt that you should be arrested that you would receive a fair trial with assistance of counsel before a jury of your peers. But thats gone. Today, the President can detain you for any reason indefinately, without trial. There is no bill of rights anymore. Its impossible in such circumstances, because checks and balances, which no longer exist, are the keystone of freedom.

But we have an individual who masterminded a plot to blow up an airplane containing 73 innocent people. And he is free, in this country, because, it was in our interests. In my mind, the murder of 73 innocent people is never... moral..... But he is free... In this country, and the tools that exist to detain people without trial are not being used against him. Perhaps the death of those 73 innocent people reduced my tax burden. Perhaps many in this country support this. It doesn't make any sense to me. I don't get it.

I don't think we are what we think we are.


A TV Comedy Turns an Unconventional Weapon on Iraq’s High and Mighty: Fake News - New York Times
Topic: Current Events 3:00 pm EDT, Oct 24, 2006

Nearly every night here for the past month, Iraqis weary of the tumult around them have been turning on the television to watch a wacky-looking man with a giant Afro wig and star-shaped glasses deliver the grim news of the day.

awesome and brave

A TV Comedy Turns an Unconventional Weapon on Iraq’s High and Mighty: Fake News - New York Times

Bush Untethered - New York Times
Topic: Current Events 3:53 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2006

[Bush] seems to [have] a deeply seated conviction that under his leadership, America is right and does not need the discipline of rules. He does not seem to understand that the rules are what makes this nation as good as it can be.

Bush Untethered - New York Times

Stratfor agrees that Al'Q is a scene. Calls it Al'Q 4.0.
Topic: Current Events 4:48 pm EDT, Jun  8, 2006

I do NOT plan to get in the habit of regularly reposting Stratfor's emails, but this one is extremely relevant to conversations we've been having on this site for a long time. (BTW, I'm not really sure if thats the first time that idea appeared here or if I'm really responsible for originating it. Its just the earliest link that I have. I think I was thinking that a long time before I said it. I said it when it became so obvious it seemed like review.)

Once again, let me start with one of the last sentances: Finally, the ability of grassroots cells to network across international boundaries, and even across oceans, presents the possibility that al Qaeda 4.0 cells could, now or in the future, pose a significant threat even without a central leadership structure -- meaning, a structure that can be identified, monitored and attacked

Stratfor: Terrorism Intelligence Report - June 7, 2006

Al Qaeda: The Next Phase of Evolution?

By Fred Burton

Canadian authorities recently arrested 17 men, accusing them of
planning terrorist attacks, after some members of the group bought
what they believed to be some 3 tons of ammonium nitrate
fertilizer, which can be used to make explosives. The men allegedly
were planning attacks against symbolic targets in Toronto and
Ottawa in a plot that reportedly included bombings, armed assaults
and beheadings.

One of the things that make this case interesting is that the group
-- now dubbed by the media as the "Canada 17" -- reportedly had
connections to alleged jihadists in other countries, whose earlier
arrests were widely reported. Those connections included two men
from the United States -- Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris
Ahmed -- who reportedly traveled from Georgia in March 2005 to meet
with Islamist extremists in Toronto. Authorities have said they
conspired to attend a militant training camp in Pakistan and
discussed potential terrorist targets in the United States. There
also is said to be a connection to a prominent computer hacker in
Britain, who was arrested in October and charged with conspiring to
commit murder and cause an explosion.

The June 2 arrests certainly underscore the possibility that
Canada , which has a long history of liberal immigration and asylum
policies, has been used by jihadists as a sanctuary for raising
funds and planning attacks. But the most intriguing aspect of the
Canada case is that it seems to encapsulate a trend that has been
slowly evolving for some time. If the allegations in the Canada 17
case are at least mostly true, it might represent the emergence of
a new operational model for jihadists -- an "al Qaeda 4.0," if you

In other words, the world might be witnessing the emergence of a
grassroots jihadist network that both exists in and h... [ Read More (2.4k in body) ]

Stratfor agrees that Al'Q is a scene. Calls it Al'Q 4.0.

Pentagon to omit Geneva ban from new army manual: report - Yahoo! News
Topic: Current Events 9:19 pm EDT, Jun  5, 2006

New policies on prisoners being drawn up by the Pentagon will reportedly omit a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment."

You can actually SEE the power corrupting us. Here is the LaTimes link.

Pentagon to omit Geneva ban from new army manual: report - Yahoo! News

Civil Liberties and National Security
Topic: Current Events 5:41 pm EDT, May 17, 2006

Stratfor: Geopolitical Intelligence Report - May 16, 2006

Civil Liberties and National Security

By George Friedman

USA Today published a story last week stating that U.S. telephone
companies (Qwest excepted) had been handing over to the National
Security Agency (NSA) logs of phone calls made by American
citizens. This has, as one might expect, generated a fair bit of
controversy -- with opinions ranging from "It's not only legal but
a great idea" to "This proves that Bush arranged 9/11 so he could
create a police state." A fine time is being had by all. Therefore,
it would seem appropriate to pause and consider the matter.

Let's begin with an obvious question: How in God's name did USA
Today find out about a program that had to have been among the most
closely held secrets in the intelligence community -- not only
because it would be embarrassing if discovered, but also because
the entire program could work only if no one knew it was under way?
No criticism of USA Today, but we would assume that the newspaper
wasn't running covert operations against the NSA. Therefore,
someone gave them the story, and whoever gave them the story had to
be cleared to know about it. That means that someone with a high
security clearance leaked an NSA secret.

Americans have become so numbed to leaks at this point that no one
really has discussed the implications of what we are seeing: The
intelligence community is hemorrhaging classified information. It's
possible that this leak came from one of the few congressmen or
senators or staffers on oversight committees who had been briefed
on this material -- but either way, we are seeing an extraordinary
breakdown among those with access to classified material.

The reason for this latest disclosure is obviously the nomination
of Gen. Michael Hayden to be the head of the CIA. Before his
appointment as deputy director of national intelligence, Hayden had
been the head of the NSA, where he oversaw the collection and
data-mining project involving private phone calls. Hayden's
nomination to the CIA has come under heavy criticism from Democrats
and Republicans, who argue that he is an inappropriate choice for
director. The release of the data-mining story to USA Today
obviously was intended as a means of shooting down his nomination
-- which it might. But what is important here is not the fate of
Hayden, but the fact that the Bush administration clearly has lost
all control of the intelligence community -- extended to include
congressional oversight processes. That is not a trivial point.

At the heart of the argument is not the current breakdown in
Washington, but the more significant question of why the NSA was
running such a collection program and whether the program
represented a serious threat to l... [ Read More (2.0k in body) ]

Civil Liberties and National Security

Why I Published Those Cartoons
Topic: Current Events 4:19 pm EST, Feb 23, 2006

Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.

This is a good explanation of the context around the cartoon war.

Why I Published Those Cartoons

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