The Qatar crisis worsens

Saudi Arabia continues its drive to be the Arab hegemon in the Middle East and, along with its subordinate partners Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, has issued a set of demands to Qatar as to what must be done within ten days for the sudden blockade they imposed more than two weeks ago to be lifted. Qatar must shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base, and reduce ties with Iran. The full list of demands can be seen here. This is quite an ominous development in an already volatile region.
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Wait for the Republicans to cave on the health care vote

The Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell has released his version of the health care reform bill and it has as its main feature a massive transfer of wealth to the rich while cutting health service to the poor. The main target seems to be Medicaid, the government-run system that serves the poor. Steven Rosenfeld summarizes the main features.
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Creationists must love Turkey

It is really not surprising how fundamentalism is the same irrespective of the religion because at root it requires the putting on of blinkers on young people so that they believe dogma and not question anything. A draft of the new science curriculum for Turkish students has deferred the teaching of evolution until students enter college because it is too ‘controversial’ and students may bot be able to understand the scientific issues involved. Actually, of pretty much all the major ideas in science, evolution is the easiest to explain and understand.
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Serving 25 years for a crime that never happened

The US media seems to regularly go through periods of hysteria when one particular crime grabs their imagination and suddenly they see widespread evidence of it everywhere. There have been many notorious cases where innocent people were wrongfully prosecuted and convicted for crimes committed by others. But what is even worse is doing so when there was no crime in the first place. This was the case during the period that some of you may remember from a few decades ago when it seemed like there was an epidemic of cases involving children’s day care centers that seemed to be hotbeds of all manner of abuse. It seemed like we saw a parade of day care providers being hauled off in handcuffs and sent to prison.
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When leakers are justified in releasing information

Before the latest reports emerged of of an alleged new NSA contractor leaker Reality Leigh Winner, David Sirota had a wide-ranging interview with Glenn Greenwald (who is one of the founders of The Intercept and whom Snowden chose as one of his conduits to release his documents) asks about when leaks are justifiable, how they should be handled, whether the motives and the identity of the leaker are relevant, and the role of journalists.
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Democrats seem unable to shake off ineffective leaders

The much-hyped special elections in Georgia and South Carolina have resulted in wins for Republicans. It is true that both are heavily Republican districts but the Democrats had hoped that the unpopularity of Donald Trump, the chaos surrounding his administration, and their health care proposals would enable them to pull off wins. But that was not to be and neither race was close.
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The absurdity of ‘free market health care’

Cartoonist Ruben Bolling captures well the absurdity of the idea that health care should be left to the so-called ‘free market’ (in reality a monopoly or quasi-monopoly market) and that each of us should shop around to find the best possible health insurance for our families. Health care is vastly more complicated than pretty much anything else in our lives. Access to basic health care should be universal and free and paid for by the government out of our taxes. It is just that simple.

Tom the Dancing Bug 1343 chagrin falls 20 – free market health care

Shaming poor children through food

In the US, it seems people believe that we should never let the poor forget that they are not only poor but that it is also their fault for being so. Even children must be made to feel ashamed for essentially having poor parents. For example, about 20 million children in US schools (about 40% of all US students) qualify for free or reduced cost lunches at school because the family income is too low. This is quite a stunning figure for one of the richest countries in the world and is a stark reminder of how skewed wealth and income is here.
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The pernicious sedition laws

Cricket fans in India are notorious for being highly enthusiastic that sometimes crosses over into being bad sports, getting angry when their team is doing badly. There was an infamous event in a 1996 World Cup tournament semi-final game against Sri Lanka that was being played in India. When India started doing poorly and were heading for defeat, fans halted the game twice by throwing bottles on to the field at the Sri Lankan fielders. The last straw was when some fans set fire to the stands. The match referee, the great West Indian cricketer Clive Lloyd, called off the match and awarded the win to Sri Lanka.
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The secret senate (no-)health care plan

While attention is focused elsewhere, just 13 Republicans in the Senate are drafting a health care plan in total secrecy, with no committee hearings planned. This suggests that the plan is going to be a real stinker and that they are planning to ram it through before the details can sink in and there is a popular uprising against it. The media are helping by not highlighting the secrecy and simply ignoring the plan altogether until it is revealed.
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