We support VA chief Shinseki He may be an easy target but he is not the source of current Veterans Affairs problems. As stated by Gen. Barry McCaffrey, “He is determined, focused and wants to factually understand a problem so he can get a sensible solution.” He is a soft-spoken soldier who does not pound the table or raise his voice. In 2003 he stood up to Rumsfeld when he said thousands more troops would be needed to secure postwar Iraq. For that he lost his job but not his integrity. We do not want a competent and honest man to be replaced with a glad-hand politician.
We're shocked that 275 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by militants. We realize politics there are extremely turbulent, but it's unconscionable for children to be used as bargaining chips. We support the protesting >Nigerians that demand more government and military attention in this matter!
RIP Al Feldstein The activists of the 60’s got their early exposure to satire and inept government from the pages of Mad Magazine. Al cared about humor, kids and country and he made a difference.
We're 100% for personal expression. That said, if anyone's gonna call Obama un-Presidential for his Two Ferns interview, they better be calling Dubya's amateur painting exhibition downright anti-Presidential! 50 more years down this road and ex-Presidents will be showcasing their coloring book work!
America's congress, a sad but true April Fool (from Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader)
We need to stop long-term solitary confinement. As Americans, we're above torturing prisoners in this brutal way. It just feeds a cycle of violent behavior and a culture of punitive destruction that ends up making its way onto streets and local precincts. It's just another way being tough on crime has not only backfired, but turned us from the values this country is founded upon.
Obama's termination of the NSA's bulk phone metadata collection is a significant step forward! We're relieved to see it happen. However, the greater problem goes on: that there is little transparency or oversight of the FISC and other secret powers granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Fixing that is how we repair our damaged democracy.
Putin's aggression against >Ukrainians continues to undermine his oft-repeated claim that >Russians play by the international rules. Which just validates our own sidestepping of treaty and protocol. All of which concerns us because it may be setting the region up for a destructive confrontation. Hopefully Ukrainians can find a middle ground between Western and Russian alignment.
Good job, kids! Keep it up!
Programming languages are not foreign languages, just as mathematics, sheet music, and art are not foreign languages. Specifically, programming languages don't have anywhere near the expressive power of natural languages, nor are they formed by thousands of years of cultural history. Kids need to become computer literate, no question about that. But this shouldn't come at the expense of exposure to foreign cultures. In fact, we need to ensure our kids are getting more exposure to other cultures, as the globe becomes smaller and smaller.
We must not ignore the >North-Koreans.
Nothing on Earth compares to the horrifying scale of inhumanity there, and the extent of oppression and despair that render them incapable of revolution. We must not mistake their inaction for satisfaction with their condition. As free people in the most powerful country on Earth, it is *our* duty to come to their aid.
Michael Kirby of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in DPRK, summed up the imperative: "At the end of the second world war, so many people said, 'If only we had known. If only we had known the wrongs that were done...' Well now, the international community does know. There will be no excusing a failure of action."
For starters, let's pressure our government to hold the >Chinese accountable for abetting this regime. Let's support NGOs, such as LibertyInNorthKo
"We are, after all, connected."
It was an impressively beautiful opening ceremony, projecting the high culture and artistry of Russia more than their international power (risked life of 11-year-old notwithstanding). On a stage like this, it's understandable that they presented Soviet-era brutality in very abstract terms. But even in those terms, some of the scenes were very utilitarian, cold and almost unhuman, making them some of the darkest in recent Olympics opening ceremony performances. Overall, fine job, >Russians.
We find the treatment of gays in Russia horrifying. (See attached video.) This is not a civil society. This is a backward-looking society that refuses to accept reality of any kind. It doesn't look like this will change anytime soon. The struggle for equality continues in America, and the gains currently achieved were hard-won. But with proactive government opposition, it seems the struggle will be much harder in Russia. The only recourse may unfortunately be to wait for the culture of the >Russians that champions conformity and nationalism to reach some self-destructive extreme, after which the pendulum of civility can swing back the other way.
This is going to be one *interesting* Olympics.
We call for Coca-Cola, General Electric, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Samsung and Visa, all sponsors of the International Olympic Committee, to take a stand against Russian anti-LGBT law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” We praise AT&T for acknowledging that "Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society."
We're ready for the SOTU!
"Flipped learning" is an interesting teaching idea that warrants more attention. Making videos available for home study will help in situations where the textbook is too dry or doesn't provide the broader context the teacher desires. This can also justify the tablet investment that administrators seem obsessed with making (mentioned recently by the >parents). While we don't think it can replace in-person lessons, we applaud creative experimentation like this.
We're disturbed by the weekend's violence in Egypt, as documented by many reports of military and mob violence targeted at >egyptians protesting the government, as well as at foreign reporters. It seems to us like the pro-military camp prefers absolute social order to a democratic republic, and we can't help but feel that's a short-term solution with severe long-term costs. We hope trust can be rebuilt so a new democratic attempt can be undertaken.
We're absolutely disgusted by Ohio's execution experiment that led to what can only be described as cruel and unusual punishment. "According to a pool report from journalists who witnessed the execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, McGuire took more than 15 minutes to die and made 'several loud snorting or snoring sounds.”
We >americans all must be tired of hearing revelations about the N.S.A. spying tactics. But, what will it take for us as americans to deny these shadow powers unfettered access with virtual impunity from the public, and the world at large? "The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target."
Senators, you need-a calm down. We all remain skeptical of Iran, particularly because it's not clear why, after 30 years of provocation and sanctions, they suddenly want to negotiate. (We'd love from the >iranians about this.) How could things have changed so significantly in the last six months? Their election of a new president would not seem to account for this, since he's still subject to the same Supreme Leader who's been in power for the last 25 years. That said, the diplomatic path is far better than the military path. The threat by most Senators right now to increase sanctions portends violent repercussions. It amounts to spanking a child right after he cleaned up his room. We do not want to see what a nuclear-armed temper tantrum looks like. So, Senators, we appreciate the skepticism but cool your jets. And, President, you must convince us (during your State of the Union?) that you and Kerry understand our deep skepticism and are negotiating with vigilance.
What do you guys think of iPad's in the classroom? Does it really improve or hinder teaching?...original
Classroom iPads will do more harm than good. While we think that it's important to keep pace with technology and to provide a "test bed" for educational software developers, large-scale iPad rollouts are bound to carry impossible expectations and create headaches for educators and students. As a "magical" piece of technology, it would seem the iPad could be the panacea that cures all educational ills. This naive impression can justify enormous capital outlay. But the fact is, they are simply electrified books and pencils. It's on teachers to creatively weave them into lessons, which seems problematic since many teachers barely understand tablets or computers themselves. Students, on the other hand, will never cease to devise ways to break any restrictions on the devices. This will lead to lackluster results and mobs of taxpayers with pitchforks roaming the streets. Physical books and pencils will likely be displaced by electronic devices in the future, so it's important that we consider them in education today. But the magic is in careful, even restrained, integration of their capabilities into the classroom. And much more research into this needs to be done before much can be expected from them. Small experimental classroom rollouts, overseen very closely by teams of educational technology specialists, seem to us to be the appropriate next step.
Gov Christie's seflishness shocks and angers us! It's unbelievable that he would resort to retaliatory behavior that is so childish, unprofessional, and disrespectful (to say the least!) to the public. And we think anyone who thinks this hyper-controlling figure was not privy to the actions of his staff is fooling themselves.
Along with the NSA and the recent federal shutdown, this is yet another sign of a political class that believes it's above public service, and that is consumed with promoting and protecting itself above all else. http://www.nytim
Patient dumping is disgusting. We believe few actions are more despicable than a hospital discharging indigent and/or mentally ill patients by dumping them on city streets; usually skid row. If this is how hospitals treat the helpless what can we expect from Wall Street, banks and other institutions? History shows that corporate corruption goes on for years before the justice system takes action. And what are the penalties? A financial fine, i.e. a slap on the wrist. We want these criminals brought to trial, the way the rest of us are. And the guilty should be imprisoned, the way the rest of us are. Financial fines are no deterrent for the wealthy, perhaps the prospect of ten years hard-time would nudge them towards decency.
Corporations are not people.
We're surprised the >british accept net censorship. It's certainly necessary to take action to reduce child sex abuse and pornography, but the mandatory internet obscenity filter they're implementing seems to vastly overreach. First, it is managed by private corporations without clear transparency controls. Corporate partnerships with government are ominous to begin with, but are much more so when they're charged with enforcing "acceptable behavior standards" (as Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz put it). Second, the content filter is installed at ISPs and enabled by default, requiring customers to opt-out of it to access content that is legal but deemed "obscene and tasteless". In a post-Snowden world, divulging anything to government should spark skepticism, but having to identify yourself as interested in obscene material in order to remove a corporate-managed filter seems to ask for trouble. Third, although supporters have referred to a slippery slope from consuming tasteless material to consuming illegal material, there is also concern for the slippery slope from filtration to protect children to filtration to protect against dissenting views of politicians or the government. In light of recent surveillance abuses, how can one expect anything less than a voracious appropriation of authority from government agencies. The filter's technical infrastructure expands the nanny state, but can be repurposed for a police state. It is easy enough for parents to install (or have installed) content filtering software on their computing devices. And the UK already has the Cleanfeed system for filtering child pornography. So this new content filter, originally sprung from the government's desire to address rising "commercialization and sexualization of childhood" and then expanded in the response to two highly-publicized child murders, is an overreaction that will have harmful consequences. We'd be content to silently observe all of this from a distance. But the American and British governments seem to be of the same mind lately when it comes to digital privacy. And, while more can and should be done to address child sex abuse, we are scared by the basic notion of empowering corporate and political entities to judge for us what information is and is not "acceptable".
Happy New Year, world! May tolerance and understanding of others allow us to leverage our differences to make the most of 2014 and the challenges it holds!
"The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit." I came across this 2012 article today and thought still apropos to the state that we are in. We need to educate ourselves past what politicians and popular news media are telling us to believe.
We're glad the Pussy Riot members were released, despite the political circumstances leading up to the Sochi Olympics. But we continue to remain baffled about why the >russians don't do more to demand greater democratic controls. Is it pride? Fear? Skepticism of democracy? American democracy is admitedly imperfect, but that doesn't mean they should not strive for something better than the stifling, dehumanizing, de facto authoritarianism of Putin.
Now's the time to reform gun laws. This text message exchange between a father and his son during the Arapahoe High shooting is terrifying and heart-rending. There must be a better way forward, because the status quo is needlessly endangering our children. Regardless of what our politicians would have us believe, we believe it's possible both to respect the 2nd Ammendment and to bring sensible controls to gun ownership. (Even 69% of NRA members believe that gun show sales should be subject to criminal background checks.) We have to press our elected leaders about this, because our children should never have to text us about how well they're hiding from a school shooter.
So Target disclosed that criminals somehow accessed credit/debit card information for as many as 40 million of its Black Friday retail customers. Alright, it's settled. We gotta go back to a cash-only society. But seriously, if you shopped in a brick-and-mortar Target store in between November 27 and December 1, double-check your transaction history. This is the the kind of thing that justifies having a positive brand image. The press coverage of it has been relatively light, but we wonder how such a breach would be reported if it were to happen to more divisive brands like Walmart.
Congratulations to everyone involved with P4A (Project for Awesome) the annual YouTube tradition in which individuals upload fundraising videos to raise awareness of their favorite charities. It's supported by ProjectForAwesom
The sky is falling!! Congress is actually gonna pass a budget without delay or chest-beating brinkmanship! And all it took was Boehner having a spine, and a couple experiments by the to prove the obvious. So kudos to Boehner's nascent spine, and a hearty, forceful pat on the back of the 113th Congress for meeting our minimum expectations. For once.
We believe that the NSA mass data collection program is unconstitutional.
We're excited to see more attention given to diversity in holiday representation.
Congrats to the >chinese for their lunar landing! They join only us and the former Soviet Union in accomplishing a soft-landing on the moon. May humans continue to explore space in peaceful cooperation.
Shutdown plurality voting!
- Government shuts down, due to
- Ideological fundamentalism in Congress, due to
- Ideological fundamentalists voted into Congress by the American people, due to
- Dysfunctional, big money, two-party political system generating few election options, due to
- Widespread use of simplistic, poorly-representative, winner-takes-all, Plurality Voting system based on single-mark ballots, due to
- It being used when the country was founded and now being ingrained in our culture, due to
- Single-mark ballots being easy to tabulate by hand.
Yes, in 2013, after landing rovers on Mars, sequencing the human genome, and creating a machine than can beat humans on Jeopardy!, Americans still use a simplistic system based on single-mark ballots and plurality voting because historically they were easier to count by hand!
Fortunately the Constitution (and local and state law) can be changed. ;) That means it's actually on us. Do we want to move to more evolved, robust systems, such as Preferential Voting (ranked voting) or Proportional Representation (wherever possible), to create a more representative, satisfactory, efficient government? Or do we want to keep our 'merican gladiator system that produces ideological meatheads who'd rather fight on camera than solve problems?
Congress... You idiots.
We believe >iranians want to peacefully coexist with us, despite the rhetoric and actions of t...original
"To gain relief from sanctions aimed at Iran’s support of terrorism, its nuclear program, and its human rights violations, Iran would have to undertake enormous reforms across the board. The Iranian government would have to prove that it has not supported terrorism in the past six months; it would have to release unconditionally all political prisoners in the country, end its human rights violations, and establish an independent judiciary; and it would have to assure the world that its nuclear program is designed only to provide peaceful nuclear energy. These are not changes that anybody expects to see in the short term from the current Iranian government, if ever."
We believe >iranians want to peacefully coexist with us, despite the rhetoric and actions of their government in recent history. We only want the same, so we are cautiously optimistic about the recent developments. However, until we understand what has brought about this change, we will remain guarded and skeptical.
We support those who use their time and talents for the public good. Code for America is an excellent example as they use technology to make governments more responsive. As an example, San Mateo County in California has one of the lowest rates of food-stamp participation in the country, due to a difficult application process. Changes in the process would require 18 agencies to overhaul their data-processing software. The participants want to create a program that would ask simple questions to applicants and use the answers to populate the complicated government form.
New or a rehash of the same old ? I'm hoping for something fresh and it just launched today. I will give it a week of steady watching, but some suspect it to be a more polished version of CNN...
Al Jazeera English had an bias - but it's always nice to see an outside America or more critical perspective. This show will be funded by money from outside the US, but made by those who reside in the US. I hope a beneficial combination for those who are able to subscribe to this channel.
They started off on a bad foot though, banning content basically from the other Al Jazeera networks around the world...