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Books, Literature & Ideas

Books, Literature & Ideas

Mr. Fish | Going to the John /TruthDig.com

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In Defense of the Public

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  • What does it say about our world that the most basic of human comforts—a park, a fire, a place to sit—are assumed to be inaccessible to the average person?
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  • We must not let the commons be privatized.
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  • The Myopic Selfishness of Libertarians
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Eve Ewing, In These Times

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On a recent weekend evening graced with unseasonably warm weather, I invited a few friends and family members to spend the twilight hours at the public park near where I live on the south side of Chicago. The park, situated on a tiny promontory that juts into Lake Michigan, is well-used thanks to its beautiful views of the skyline and proximity to the lakefront bicycle path. We brought a picnic dinner and sat on stone benches encircling a fire pit, where we built a small fire and enjoyed the warmth, light and camaraderie offered by the makeshift hearth.

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Fires were a catalytic invention in human evolution. Not only did they allow us the physiological benefits of cooked food, but they also brought us together in a shared reliance on common resources, laying the foundation for cooperative social structures. Whenever I sit before a fire, I imagine what our earliest ancestors must have felt as the heat drew them close, providing refuge from the threats of the night in those times before man was the conqueror of all he saw.

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The Myopic Selfishness of Libertarians, David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer | WA
One way or another, if the problems of a city, a state or a nation are neglected, those problems will spread and eventually end up on everyone's doorstep. Forget empathy, generosity, humanitarianism or Christian charity. Be selfish, but still grasp this hard truth: Taxes are anarchy insurance, the fee we pay to guarantee we don't lose it all.

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Take Off the Blindfold. Don't Be Afraid to See the Truth!

Americans continue like the lemmings in that Apple ad that flopped during the 1985 Superbowl. They are being led blindfolded up to the edge of an abyss and then are, one by one, falling off. The ad was so stark that it flopped. But if no one takes their blindfold off and stops this insanity, we will all simply fall over the cliff.

Coleen Rowley, Huffington Post
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Do we have to laugh so as to not cry?

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Unfortunately, the US corporate PR machine is again triumphing. The naked emperor shoots the little boy trying to yell the truth. About 70% of Americans, misled by their politicians, now declare that ignorance is bliss and they want to see Assange assassinated and WikiLeaks taken out. Only a tiny fraction of critical-thinker-Americans recognize that what they don't know can hurt them.

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The last time an administration got 70% of the country to believe a false proposition (that Iraq was behind 9-11), we launched an unending war that has already killed over a million and, in so doing, we shot ourselves in the foot. So unless Americans are willing to take their heads out of the sand, that's about to happen again. We find ourselves in such an Orwellian tragedy, that if we don't laugh, we'll cry.

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Our Reaction Is the Real Security Failure

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  • If we refuse to be terrorized, if we refuse to implement security theater and remember that we can never completely eliminate the risk of terrorism, then the terrorists fail even if their attacks succeed.
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  • The Real Threat to America
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  • The stench of the police state at US airports
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  • This country has been reformatted. It has been downsized to fit your fears.
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Bruce Schneier, Schneir.com

In the headlong rush to "fix" security after the Underwear Bomber's unsuccessful Christmas Day attack, there's far too little discussion about what worked and what didn't, and what will and will not make us safer in the future.

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The security checkpoints worked. Because we screen for obvious bombs, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- or, more precisely, whoever built the bomb -- had to construct a far less reliable bomb than he would have otherwise. Instead of using a timer or a plunger or a reliable detonation mechanism, as would any commercial user of PETN, he had to resort to an ad hoc and much more inefficient homebrew mechanism: one involving a syringe and 20 minutes in the lavatory and we don't know exactly what else. And it didn't work.

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The Real Threat to America, Roger Cohen, New York Times | NY

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  • When a government has a right to invade the bodies of its citizens, security has trumped freedom.
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  • The Fourth Amendment [of the US Constitution] : “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
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The stench of the police state at US airports, World Socialist Web Site

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  • Ten years of bloody warfare since 9/11 have brought about an increasing brutalization of American society itself, as the American government now brings home the methods of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, violence and humiliation, for use against the American population.
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  • Sign the Petition to Investigate TSA Abuse of Power!
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Three defeated Democrats have some advice for their party and the nation

Last week (Nov 28-Dec 4) , columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. sat down with three House Democrats who were defeated in November to get their sense of what the election means for the future and how the president should respond.

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E.J. Dionne Jr., Syndicated columnist, Seattle Times | WA

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From Ohio, Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy describes "the worry, the anguish and sometimes despair" among her constituents and urges President Obama to spend more time with people who don't make "six-figure incomes."

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From Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak says Americans are angry at a government that failed to guard them against economic catastrophe.

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And from Virginia, Rep. Tom Perriello suggests that voters are less interested in "bipartisanship" than "postpartisanship." He explains: "What they're looking for is someone who solves the problem, not for a solution that happens to be half way between the two parties."

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