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Jul 20 2014

James Garner (1928-2014)

He died yesterday.

I loved watching James Garner from the time I first saw him in the cowboy TV series Maverick. He was perfect in the role of a wry nattily dressed card player roaming the west and getting into adventures. What made him unusual as a cowboy was that as far as possible he would try to avoid getting into fights (he did not like the idea of getting hurt and besides he did not want to mess up his clothes) and did not want to be a hero and preferred to use his wits to get out of trouble but at the same time his sense of what was right kept getting him involved on behalf of the downtrodden.
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Jul 20 2014

Not surprising

Unfortunately I do not have access to the full article but the abstract of this study titled Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds reports findings that do not surprise me in the least.
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Jul 20 2014

Support for Israel hemorrhaging

The latest assault by Israel on Gaza has furthered the process in which Israel is losing support worldwide and also among Jews in the US, especially among the young, who do not buy in to the idea that Israel faces some existential threat that requires massive and disproportionate attacks on Palestinians. Instead what they see is a reactionary government backed by the US that is using its massive military power to oppress people that they have displaced from their homes.
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Jul 19 2014

Child refugees

The arrival of young children from Central America seeking refuge in the US has caused a problem for the xenophobes in the US. On the one hand they hate the idea of more non-white people coming to the US. But the members of the elite media and political classes also do not want to appear as heartless as their allies, the people gathering in groups on the border yelling angrily at the children. So they play a double game that Stephen Colbert parodies perfectly.
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Jul 19 2014

On our way to a nation where thugs and idiots rule

moransThe rising anti-government sentiment in the US is spiraling out of control The Republican party is whipping it up in order to stymie any of president Obama’s initiatives but they run the real risk of these sentiments resulting in a lawless nation in which people feel entitled to break the law because they think that powerful segments of the government approve of such actions and that they will protect them from repercussions. I have written before about how such things can easily lead to mob violence.
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Jul 19 2014

The Israel lobby swings into action

The influence of the Israel lobby in the US is most clearly visible when that country engages in massive onslaughts on Palestinians that threaten to arouse widespread anger and disgust. Then it whips into action to blunt criticism in the US media and prevent any action against it. As Palestinian casualties in Gaza mount to over 300, one fifth of whom are children, and the destruction of a hospital, the Israel lobby has its work cut out for it.
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Jul 18 2014

The Hobby Lobby case

The Daily Show commented on the Hobby Lobby case and had as their guest Dahlia Lithwick to discuss the implications of that case and also the inconsistent way that the US Supreme Court views free speech rights and buffer zones.
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Jul 18 2014

‘Ghost’ occupants of luxury homes

The boom-bust nature of the American economy has now spawned ‘ghost tenants’, people who are essentially high-end house sitters. It works like this. Suppose you have a huge luxury house that you need to move out of and want to sell. You don’t want to leave the house empty or with a caretaker because houses are easier to sell if there is someone actually living in them. But you don’t want to rent it out either because that creates other problems.
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Jul 18 2014

Interview with Snowden

The editor of the Guardian has an excerpt of an interview with Edward Snowden where he seems remarkably calm about his fate and says that he is even resigned to being sent to Guantanamo. He also says that the people working for the NSA routinely shared amongst themselves embarrassing photos that they found while snooping on people.

The full interview will be published later today.

Jul 18 2014

When governments inflame mob passions

Back in 1983 in Sri Lanka, a group of Tamil separatists were conducting a low-level guerilla war against the government that the government was, typically, trying to quell militarily without addressing the political issues. Since almost all members of the military belonged the majority Sinhala community, this conflict took on an overtly ethnic coloration. In July of that year, the guerillas pulled off their biggest attack, blowing up a convoy of army trucks and killing over twenty soldiers.
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