Critics of the Israeli government often refer to it as an “apartheid” state. This is understandably met with harsh reproach by the “pro-Israel” crowd. Anytime one uses the word “apartheid,” images of the cruel, racist apartheid South Africa regime immediately follow. Clearly, nobody wants to be compared to the unjust regime that Nelson Mandela spent much of his life fighting to dismantle.
But when you are dealing with a state that applies different legal standards to groups of people under its jurisdiction based on their ethnicity, it is difficult to know what else to call it [other than apartheid - emphasis mine]. +972 Magazine has an excellent series called Visualizing Occupation, in which they showcase exactly how Israel’s legal system treats Palestinian and Israeli citizens differently for the same behavior. Avner Gvaryahu, an Israeli citizen and former IDF soldier, described his experience in frank terms:
We created a situation [in the Palestinian Territories] that, de facto, there is never a possibility for equality. You’re talking about … together with East Jerusalem … half a million Jewish settlers that are under Israeli civilian law. And two and a half million Palestinians that are under army law, under martial law … they’ll never be equal. If you have two people who meet in the heart of Hebron, both at the same exact moment, pick up a rock and throw it at each other, and one is Palestinian and one is Israeli, the Israeli will be tried under civilian law. The Palestinian will be tried as a Terrorist, for doing the exact same thing.
Judith Butler (who is Jewish), noted back in February:
Presently, there are at least twenty laws that privilege Jews over Arabs within the Israeli legal system. The 1950 Law of Return grants automatic citizenship rights to Jews from anywhere in the world upon request, while denying that same right to Palestinians who were forcibly dispossessed of their homes in 1948 or subsequently as the result of illegal settlements and redrawn borders. Human Rights Watch has compiled an extensive study of Israel’s policy of “separate, not equal” schools for Palestinian children. … Palestinians are barred from military service, and yet access to housing and education still largely depends on military status. Families are divided by the separation wall between the West Bank and Israel, with few forms of legal recourse to rights of visitation and reunification. The Knesset debates the “transfer” of the Palestinian population to the West Bank, and the new loyalty oath requires that anyone who wishes to become a citizen pledge allegiance to Israel as Jewish and democratic, thus eliding once again the non-Jewish population and binding the full population to a specific and controversial, if not contradictory, version of democracy.
This unequal treatment before the law is one of the problems with establishing a state where the welfare of one group of citizens is placed above all others in a nation state…
The discussion around people’s banished right to unlock their own cellphones has been framed as an unexpected and unanticipated effect of the copyright monopoly. To the contrary, it shows the heart of the monopoly’s philosophy: killing ownership as a concept.[…]The copyright monopoly hurts creativity, hurts our economy, hurts our entrepreneurs – and most importantly, it is an affront to the most foundational concepts in society, such as the right to tinker with your own property. It needs to be questioned, dismantled, and abolished.
the black heart of corporate thinking is prodded a little in a very interesting little piece
take this quote:
In summary, the “wealth” of these few aggregated bacteria far outstrips that of the multitudes who have not started on the aggregation path. The multitudes apparently face some barrier to early aggregation processes but once some critical stage is passed then the agglomeration process is favored by some kind of feedback loop.
this doesn’t sound like the formation of human beings into societies? to create more “wealth” together than they could do alone?
i don’t think the phenomenon has anything to do with the agglomeration of wealth. it has to do with the choices beings make as to how to profit themselves, as to how to give their progeny the best chance of survival
Neat fact: If the federal government were to take all of the money it pours into various forms of financial aid each year, it could go ahead and make tuition free, or close to it, for every student at every public college in the country.
not just a neat fact, a neat solution.
what about the good old management mantra: keep it simple, stupid? aren’t there enough idiots on capitol hill that they’d want to keep it simple? or in creating the complexity are they demonstrating that their idiotic facade is just that?
for me, the point is to have a legislative framework that is simple and effective at achieving the aims a society sets itself.
so: do we want to make higher education affordable? if so, then why not make it free if we can?
Charles Ramsey may have been precisely the sort of scumbag who beats his wife back in 2003. But he’s also the same scumbag who recently helped end the living nightmares of three captured and abused women. Those women probably do not care much about Charles Ramsey’s checkered past. His good deeds don’t necessarily absolve him of past wrongs. But perhaps Ramsey’s recent actions are a good indicator that the way we label and treat convicted felons doesn’t necessarily tell us a whole lot about their capacity to be “good” after they’ve incurred a debt to society—even if that debt was the result of real injuries he may have inflicted on others in the past.
isn’t the object of the existing justice system to ‘punish’ people for their crimes? to extract ‘justice’? to make them pay their debt for crimes committed? and once that time has been served, has their debt - in this mode of thinking - not been paid?
in other words, how does this work? easy: commit a crime, incur a debt to the wronged, be caught, have the debt recognised in court, and pay it by spending time in jail.
given he was on the streets and in a position to help the women, he has paid the debt, he has paid the price in terms of time that society set as needed for his crime. thus, he can perform whatever acts of benevolence or terror he wants thereafter as if he hadn’t committed any crime. i.e., no-one should be judging him.
if this is not how we work (and it’s not), if we will always want to judge his current actions based on his priors as it were, then our conception of crime and its punishment needs to change. before releasing convicts into society, we need to be more explicit about including more assessments about their proclivity for recidivism by, for example, addressing addiction and poverty issues, and we need to be taking more responsibility in terms of making sure they are in the best position to succeed once released back into society through retraining, involvement in community organisations, follow up social worker interaction, etc.
Here is what everyone needs to know about Guantanamo. A total of 779 prisoners have been sent to the detention center, of whom 604 have subsequently been transferred (almost all of them now free). Nine have died in custody. Of the remaining 166 prisoners, only nine have been charged with a crime. Ironically, conviction often leads to early release, prompting Morris Davis, a former Guantanamo prosecutor, to write,
There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime conviction is your ticket home.
Compounding the injustice is the fact that 86 of the 166 prisoners were cleared for transfer in 2010, following a rigorous inter-departmental review process in the Obama administration. Yet more than three years later they remain in Guantanamo.
“You want to film something b**ch? Film this!”
at the moment it is just an allegation. but if true, what does it say about the state of affairs in the US right now? how can we restore some sanity?
what’s happening here? some citizens choose to take action as their values dictate. they do so in the knowledge that what they are doing has consequences. those consequences are defined by the laws of the land - the statutes passed into law by Congress.
if those laws were not enforced, those officers responsible for enforcing them would be derelict in their duty. so of course, they trawl the body of laws to find whatever charges they can apply. it is their responsibility. that is what we, via our representatives, via our government departments, hire them to do.
if we are not happy about the laws they are enforcing and the consequences for breaking them let us change those laws. let us not attack those performing their duty in applying the full weight of the law in pursuing these three (however abhorrent we might find the way they have done it). let us instead attack the philosophical basis and construct of the laws they are looking to impose penalties for breaking.
can we do that?
How the US turned three pacifists into ‘multiple felony saboteurs’
May 20, 2013
In just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protesters accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.
Here is how it happened.
… a Department of Energy (DOE) agent swore out a federal criminal complaint against the three for damage to federal property, a felony punishable by zero to five years in prison, under 18 US Code Section 1363.
… On Tuesday August 7, the U.S. expanded the charges against the peace activists to three counts. The first was the original charge of damage to Y-12 in violation of 18 US Code 1363, punishable by up to five years in prison. The second was an additional damage to federal property in excess of $1000 in violation of 18 US Code 1361, punishable by up to ten years in prison. The third was a trespassing charge, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison under 42 US Code 2278.
… on December 4, 2012, the U.S. filed a new indictment of the protestors. Count one was the promised new charge of sabotage. Defendants were charged with intending to injure, interfere with, or obstruct the national defense of the United States and willful damage of national security premises in violation of 18 US Code 2155, punishable with up to 20 years in prison. Counts two and three were the previous felony property damage charges, with potential prison terms of up to fifteen more years in prison.
… In its decision affirming their incarceration pending their sentencing, the court ruled that both the sabotage and the damage to property convictions were defined by Congress as federal crimes of terrorism. Since the charges carry potential sentences of ten years or more, the Court ruled there was a strong presumption in favor of incarceration which was not outweighed by any unique circumstances that warranted their release pending sentencing.Full story
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has unveiled his latest work, a map of China made from baby formula tins, in response to fears surrounding milk safety in China
May 17, 2013
Weiwei, whose 81 days of detention in 2011 sparked international outcry, has regularly criticized the government for ignoring the rule of law and the rights of Chinese citizens.
In his latest work, the dissident artist has arranged more than 1,800 large tins of milk powder from seven popular brands in the shape of a huge map of China.
Fears about milk safety were reignited in 2008 when at least six children died and 300,000 fell ill after drinking milk formula laced with industrial melamine.
Since the scandal many Chinese parents have taken to importing milk powder from foreign countries.
Weiwei said: “A country like this can put a satellite into space but it can’t put a safe bottle teat into a child’s mouth. I think it’s extremely absurd. This is a most fundamental assurance of food, but people actually have to go to another region to obtain this kind of thing. I think it’s a totally absurd phenomenon.”
The “milk map” has gone on display in Hong Kong, which had to restrict the amount of milk powder brought back to mainland China after parents flocked to the former British colony to stock up.
More than 30 million mainland Chinese visited Hong Kong last year, almost four times the city’s population, causing concern about the ability of the city’s infrastructure to cope. Complaints of milk powder shortages and rocketing prices were also reported.
Speaking in response to the Chinese “run” on Hong Kong’s milk supply, Weiwei said: “I have heard of drug trafficking before, but when a country has milk powder smuggling instead of drug smuggling, I think this is a devastating sign.”
The Chinese government has tried to reassure people that milk powder and dairy products in China are now safe and rigorously tested, but lax regulatory enforcement remains a problem.
In 2004, at least 13 babies in the central Anhui province died after drinking fake milk powder that had no nutritional value. A government health probe in 2008 showed 20 per cent of dairy companies had produced batches of milk containing melamine, an industrial chemical added to milk to seem like it has a higher protein content. In 2011, three children died and 35 people became ill after drinking nitrite-tainted milk in China’s northwestern Gansu province.
President Obama prosecutes more whistle-blowers than all previous administrations combined.
“Gentlemen, I’ve only been here five months, but this is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today. The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, clearly says that the Congress has the power to declare war. This—this authorization, the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force], is very limited. And you keep using the term “associated forces.” You use it 13 times in your statement. That is not in the AUMF. And you said at one point, “It suits us very well.” I assume it does suit you very well, because you’re reading it to cover everything and anything. And then you said, at another point, “So, even if the AUMF doesn’t apply, the general law of war applies, and we can take these actions.” So, my question is: How do you possibly square this with the requirement of the Constitution that the Congress has the power to declare war? This is one of the most fundamental divisions in our constitutional scheme, that the Congress has the power to declare war; the president is the commander-in-chief and prosecutes the war. But you’re reading this AUMF in such a way as to apply clearly outside of what it says. Senator McCain was absolutely right: It refers to the people who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks on September 11. That’s a date. That’s a date. It doesn’t go into the future. And then it says, “or harbored such organizations”—past tense—”or persons in order to prevent any future acts by such nations, organizations or persons.” It established a date. I don’t disagree that we need to fight terrorism. But we need to do it in a constitutionally sound way. Now, I’m just a little, old lawyer from Brunswick, Maine, but I don’t see how you can possibly read this to be in comport with the Constitution and authorize any acts by the president.”
— Senator Angus King (I-ME) at a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on May 16, 2013, quoted in “‘Astoundingly Disturbing’: Obama Administration Claims Power to Wage Endless War Across the Globe” (May 17, 2013), Democracy Now!
why should we be unsurprised that with literally billions of dollars in student loans driving demand for college places, that colleges wouldn’t have business models targeting those with “high incomes”? after all, isn’t that the purpose of debt? to bring consumption forward to be paid out of future earnings? to allow one to ‘pretend’ to have a high income by sacrificing future consuption?
so what is the challenge? to change the incentives that colleges face and in so doing incentivise them to change the business models they use to meet those. for me it is too easy to say: give the high-achieveing low- to middle-income students more information. that’s just part of the solution. change the incentive structure. and by that i mean change how the values colleges purport to hold - and the expression of those through behaviours - is rewarded. perhaps an economist might be more interested in proposing a model for politicans to look to implement than in conducting yet more research into aggregate demand? you never know your luck: things might change…
If most top colleges wanted to be truly equitable, they could not be with their current business model. There is not a golden pot of low-income applicants that schools want but are failing to reach. Instead, many schools don’t want more low-income students because they won’t be able to pay for them without a major overhaul of school funding practices. Outside of the handful of super-elite universities with fortress endowments, colleges’ finances are currently designed around enrolling a disproportionately high number of high-income students. These schools could not afford to support more low-income or middle-income students absent either a huge increase in tuition, a commensurate reduction in spending, or a dramatic change in public funding.
1. when keynes’ “animal spirits” get excited and engage in malinvestment, they create distortions in the economy. e.g., more houses are built than might be needed. when economic actors begin to realise there has been malinvestment, that section of the economy might suffer from a reversal in investment and economic activity. i.e., the excess investment turns into underinvestment for as long as necessary to restore equilibrium in that market. this is what mellon was referring to when he advised hoover to let the depression run its course. is this the ideal response? one might say that the moment that the adjustment starts to affect other markets then perhaps the government has a role in stepping in to ameliorate the effects of the adjustment (e.g., through the provision of unemployment benefits or retraining for laid off workers). but does the government have a role in propping up the adjusting market? very debatable.
2. is the job of an economist to repair a technical problem that manifests itself as a ‘troubled’ economy? firstly, is an adjusting market a ‘troubled’ economy? isn’t it in fact a sign of a healthy economy in that it can adjust and restore equilibrium automatically? isn’t the ‘technical problem’ the fact that a distortion occurred in the first place? and isn’t this distortion due to the very human nature of the economic actors? if those actors are ‘depressed’ is it really the economist’s job to make them less so? i think not. i think the economist’s job is to describe what is happening. nothing more. it is the political actors in a society that have to decide what to do about an adjusting market for houses. economists can describe what tools might be used and the effect of their use by political actors in trying to guide economic activity. but no more. they shouldn’t try to ‘repair’ a problem. that is not an economist’s job. it is society’s problem
3. i don’t believe the author is right in saying keynes’ focus on why economies stay in depression and how to get them out was the correct one. perhaps for his time, yes, but not for all time. economists should be describing all elements of an economy, whether depressed or not, in boom or not. economists should be describing the impact on the stock of resources of economic activity (e.g. properly accounting for health consequences of mining techniques, environmental consequences of nuclear power generation, etc). once we fully understand that the economy is simply the manifestation of our attempt to fulfill our material, physical (and others?) wants and desires we can get a better understanding of our ability to fulfill those for ourselves as individuals, societies and as a planet.
>Everyone loves a morality play. “For the wages of sin is death” is a much more satisfying message than “Shit happens.” We all want events to have meaning. >When applied to macroeconomics, this urge to find moral meaning creates in all of us a predisposition toward believing stories that attribute the pain of a slump to the excesses of the boom that precedes it—and, perhaps, also makes it natural to see the pain as necessary, part of an inevitable cleansing process. When Andrew Mellon told Herbert Hoover to let the Depression run its course, so as to “purge the rottenness” from the system, he was offering advice that, however bad it was as economics, resonated psychologically with many people (and still does). >By contrast, Keynesian economics rests fundamentally on the proposition that macroeconomics isn’t a morality play—that depressions are essentially a technical malfunction. As the Great Depression deepened, Keynes famously declared that “we have magneto trouble”—i.e., the economy’s troubles were like those of a car with a small but critical problem in its electrical system, and the job of the economist is to figure out how to repair that technical problem. Keynes’s masterwork, _The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money_, is noteworthy—and revolutionary—for saying almost nothing about what happens in economic booms. Pre-Keynesian business cycle theorists loved to dwell on the lurid excesses that take place in good times, while having relatively little to say about exactly why these give rise to bad times or what you should do when they do. Keynes reversed this priority; almost all his focus was on how economies stay depressed, and what can be done to make them less depressed. >I’d argue that Keynes was overwhelmingly right in his approach, but there’s no question that it’s an approach many people find deeply unsatisfying as an emotional matter. And so we shouldn’t find it surprising that many popular interpretations of our current troubles return, whether the authors know it or not, to the instinctive, pre-Keynesian style of dwelling on the excesses of the boom rather than on the failures of the slump.
the continuing whittling away at some of our most treasured freedoms continues. when a government department has no need to provide probable cause for an action, you can guess what will happen: none will be provided and invasive and intrusive actions will become more prevalent over time until we have forgotten what has previously been fought for so hard for.
are we going to stand idly by and allow this to happen? are we going to take some real, concrete action to stem the tide, the rise of big brother?
[I]n its relentless pursuit to learn the identity of the source for one of New York Times’ James Risen’s stories, the Obama DOJ has actually claimed that journalists have no shield protections whatsoever in the national security context. It’s also quite possible that they obtained the records through a Grand Jury subpoena, as part of yet another criminal investigation to uncover and punish leakers. None of those processes for obtaining these invasive records requires a demonstration of probable cause or anything close to it. Instead, the DOJ must simply assert that the records “relate to” a pending investigation: a standard so broad that virtually every DOJ desire will fulfill it.”
HuffPost has an article declaimiing the hundreds of billions profit the Department of Education is making from student loans. It also describes legislation designed to make them more “affordable” eben as it demonstrates that student loan debt is a veritable mountain that means student borrowers are unable to engage in the usual debt driven economic activity that constitutes life in the USA in the modern day
let’s propose a solution shall we?
- only students whose parent(s) earn below $100,000 are eligible for student loans
- student are only eligible for student loans if attending public universities
- student loans are only eligible to be repaid once income exceeds the median income
- student loan debt will be repaid as a percentage of after tax income with an increasing percentage deduction as income increases but also adjusted for number of dependents
- student loan interest rates will be no more than the Fed’s discount rate
- student loans targeted at those who need the most help
- student loans no longer subsidise private universities
- students no longer burdened by excessive repayment schedules
- repayment schedules take into account ability to pay
- student loans made at same low interest rates that Fed charges to banking institutions so no discrimination between economic actors
Obama student loan policy reaping… wait for it… $51 billion profit
May 14, 2013
[…] The Education Department has generated nearly $120 billion in profit off student borrowers over the last five fiscal years, budget documents show, thanks to record relative interest rates on loans as well as the agency’s aggressive efforts to collect defaulted debt.
[…] At $1.1 trillion, student debt eclipses all other forms of household debt, except for home mortgages. It’s also the only kind of consumer debt that has increased since the onset of the financial crisis, according to the New York Fed. Officials in Washington are worried that overly indebted student borrowers are unable to save enough to purchase a home, take out loans for new cars, start a business or save enough for their retirement…[L]egislation, dubbed the “Student Loan Affordability Act” and proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), aims to help a small subset of future student borrowers who take out loans over the next two years. The bill does nothing for existing student debtors.
Injustice For Cameron D'Ambrosio
Every time I look at this young man’s photo, my heart breaks apart for him and his family:
“There are three important questions: (1) are our embassies safe; (2) are our tax laws being taken advantage of by political groups; and (3) what are...”
“The missile hits, and after the smoke clears there’s a crater there and you can see body parts from the people. [A] guy that was running from the...”