Separate but equal introduced in Israel

According to an Israeli newspaper, the city authorities in Tel Aviv have decided to introduced kindergartens segregated by race.

When the children of south Tel Aviv head back to school on Tuesday, kindergarteners will attend facilities that are segregated by race. The children of asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa will go to their kindergartens and all the other kids will go to their own. As of this year, the municipality of Israel’s most liberal city decided that separate-but-equal for three-to-six year olds was the way to go—in 2013. [Read more...]

Being rushed into bombing Syria

One of the surest signs that the US government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public is when they manufacture an artificial sense of urgency. They are like the hucksters selling time shares who try to persuade people that there is a great deal of urgency and that a decision to buy must be made immediately. We saw this kind of pressure in the run up to the Iraq invasion, with ridiculous talk about how we could not afford to wait for evidence in case the ‘smoking gun’ came in the form of a ‘mushroom cloud’. It was inexcusable inflammatory hyperbole and those who made it (Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush) should have been pilloried but of course they weren’t. [Read more...]

Your metadata and the law

Timothy B. Lee explains that your telephone metadata (i.e., all the information about your call other than the actual content of the conversations) can tell the government a lot more than whom you called, when, and for how long. Lee quotes from numerous examples given by Ed Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton University who contributed to a brief for the ACLU, about what your metadata can reveal about you. [Read more...]

The Ventures and drums

The Ventures were an instrumental rock group from the days of my youth who were known for their up-tempo, driving, pulsating beats that gave special prominence to drummers. They were one of the few purely instrumental rock bands that had an extended successful career, the British group The Shadows being another one.

Here are two examples. One is the tune Wipe Out. [Read more...]

Laura Poitras speaks out

Laura Poitras has been a crucial figure in the Edward Snowden NSA revelations story but has preferred to stay in the background. But in a column in Der Spiegel she describes her end of the events that led to David Miranda being detained at Heathrow airport on his return to Brazil after visiting her in Berlin. She says that what happened to Miranda was a ‘blatant attack on press freedom’ and that she has experienced similar things. [Read more...]

Significant developments on same-sex marriage

The retail giant Walmart has decided to extend its benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of its LGBT employees. Granted, Walmart is a terrible employer that exploits its workers and pays them poor wages but this move is symbolically important because the socially conservative Arkansas-based company is so huge and because it has stated that its policy will take effect in all 50 states, irrespective of whether that state recognizes same-sex marriage or not. It is a major step forward. [Read more...]

How far should accommodation of religion go?

The province of Quebec proposing a ban on all public sector employees wearing headgear or jewelry that is overtly religious raised the issue of how far a government should go to accommodate the religious preferences of people. My personal view, and one that I think is consistent with the US constitution, is that people should be allowed to wear what they want provided: (a) it does not interfere with how well they can perform their jobs; and (b) the rule should be such that anyone, whether religious or not, should be allowed to wear similar items if they wish. [Read more...]