The roots of Trump’s deportation policy

Donald Trump is undoubtedly an awful president, a vain, needy, pathological liar and narcissist whose main goal in life seems to be to enrich himself and his family. But we should not let his awfulness result in our viewing his predecessors with rose-tinted glasses and seeing them in retrospect as better than they were. We must never forget, for example, that Barack Obama’s drone killings and policies in Libya and Yemen and other parts of the world were awful and his excessive claims of presidential power laid the foundations that Trump is now taking advantage of.
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Getting rid of the intentional foul in basketball

The NBA basketball championship playoffs are currently underway. Even though the Cleveland home team the Cavaliers are the defending champions, I am not a basketball fan and have not watched any of the games so far. Part of the problem is that it is a very fast moving game (when it is not stopped for timeouts and the like which are the bane of American sports but allow for plenty of commercials) and I do not know the finer points of tactics and strategy to fully appreciate what is going on.
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The pundits who supported Libyan regime change and now advocating the same for Syria

One of the enduring facts about the American media is that there is a group of influential members of the media and intellectuals who like to think of themselves as liberal but are reliable advocates for the use of military force and especially bombing the hell out of other countries in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’. These people can be relied upon to cheer wars as long as it can be wrapped up in a gauze, however flimsy, that it will magically result in the emergence of a nation that is democratic and respects human rights and the rights of minorities. Of course, once the whole exercise goes sour as it almost always does, they studiously avert their gaze from the havoc they caused and look longingly for the next war for which they can advocate action.
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The book royalties racket

Like many academic writers, I make hardly any money on my books and write them mainly for the intellectual satisfaction they give me. The world of huge advances that are paid for books by politicians and celebrities occupy a totally different publishing world and is something that I have no knowledge of. I have long been curious as to what purpose such advances serve. What happens to people who get huge advances? Are the author’s royalties kept by the publisher until they have reached the amount of the advance? What happens if the book does not sell enough copies to justify the advance?
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Why are people so afraid?

The first time I heard about what later became known as the case of the elderly man who was randomly selected and shot dead on the street and whose killer posted it on Facebook was when my wife got a telephone alert from the university where she teaches telling people that a shooter was on the loose and asking people not on campus to stay away and those on campus to get into lockdown mode. The puzzling thing was that the message mentioned the location of the shooting and it was several miles away from the university and there was no indication that it had anything to do with the university nor that the shooter was heading towards it. So why the warning?
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The incredible cruelty of petty officials

There are a lot of tragedies in life. But sometimes there are incidents that, in the grand scheme of things may seem relatively minor because they do not involve wars or things like that, but still provoke revulsion because they are examples of people treating other cruelly for no obvious reason when simpler, more humane options are available. And in this class are the actions of petty officials who abuse people because they think they can do so with impunity because the weight of authority is behind them. There are many examples of this, as we have seen in the behavior of the TSA personnel at airports, the Customs and Border Protection agents at borders, and of course the security personnel working for United Airlines who dragged a passenger off the plane.
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Changing the rhythms of life

The ‘natural’ daily rhythm of our bodies is said to be close to 25 hours. But since our lives require a daily routine that corresponds to the clock and not our bodies, we are thus slightly out of sync with the rotation of the Earth, with each passing day increasing the disparity, resulting in things like sleeping extra on our days off from work or school in an effort to make up for it.
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