By BLAKE GOPNIK
Our current market, geared toward the ultra-wealthy, is helping few and hurting many. It stomps down all the emerging and midlevel dealers, artists, curators and even collectors who can’t play in the big-money game. It’s also hurting all the art lovers, current and future, who deserve work that’s conceived to address artistic issues, not to sell well to robber barons. If forgers can help burst our art bubble, blessings be upon them. “If a fake is good enough to fool experts, its good enough to give the rest of us pleasure”.
End the N.S.A. Dragnet, Now
By RON WYDEN, MARK UDALL and MARTIN HEINRICH
Rather than adopt our legislation, the Intelligence Committee chose to codify excessively broad domestic surveillance authorities. So we offered amendments: One would end the bulk collection of Americans’ records, but still allow intelligence agencies to obtain information they legitimately needed for national security purposes by getting the approval of a judge, which could even be done after the fact in emergency situations. Another of our amendments sought to prevent the N.S.A. from collecting Americans’ cellphone location information in bulk — a capability that potentially turns the cellphone of every man, woman and child in America into a tracking device.
Each of these proposals represents real and meaningful reform, which we believe would have fulfilled the purpose of protecting our security and liberty. Each was rejected by the committee, in some cases by a single vote.
Conservative Leads Effort to Raise Minimum Wage in California
By JENNIFER MEDINA
LOS ANGELES — Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire, rose to fame by promoting a ballot initiative that essentially eliminated bilingual education in California. He went on to become publisher of The American Conservative, a libertarian-leaning magazine.
But after decades in the conservative movement, Mr. Unz is pursuing a goal that has stymied liberals: raising the minimum wage. He plans to pour his own money into a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage in California to $10 an hour in 2015 and $12 in 2016, which would make it by far the highest in the nation. Currently, it is $8 — 75 cents higher than the federal minimum.
It is time — indeed, past time — for President Obama to educate the public about the injustice that runs through our criminal justice system with regard to sentencing and about the almost wanton destruction of lives of low-visibility people without friends in high places. He could (and should) provide a lesson in mercy at least and possibly even in forgiveness with the stroke of his pen and an edifying speech explaining his action.
Brookline, Mass., Nov. 22, 2013
The writer is a professor at University of Texas Law School and a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.
Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City
The Changing Mission: San Francisco’s technology industry is booming. As housing costs increase some worry that the city’s colorful neighborhoods, like the Mission, are at risk of losing their character.
By ERICA GOODE and CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Longtime residents of the Mission District complain that high-end apartments, expensive restaurants and exclusive boutiques are crowding out the bodegas, bookstores and Mexican bars. They complain about workers who, like residents of a bedroom community, board company buses every morning and return every evening to drink and dine on Valencia Street.
And they grumble about less tangible things: an insensitivity in interactions in stores and on the street, or a seeming disregard for neighborhood traditions. The annual Day of the Dead procession, meant to be solemn, has turned into a rowdy affair that many newcomers seem to view as a kind of Mexican Halloween.
Herbert Mitgang, Wide-Ranging Author and Journalist
By Douglas Martin
Herbert Mitgang, an author and journalist whose wide-ranging work included Abraham Lincoln biographies and an exposé of the F.B.I.’s bulging files on America’s most renowned writers — John Steinbeck’s dossier was 800 pages long — died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93. His son, Lee, said the cause was complications of pneumonia.
Using the Freedom of Information Act and other methods, Mr. Mitgang — a longtime reporter and editor for The New York Times — told of mountains of records squirreled away by the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other agencies impugning the patriotism of W. H. Auden, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder and other authors, poets and playwrights.
His 1988 book, “Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors,” reported that the agencies were suspicious not just of radical views but also of liberal ones. Mr. Mitgang said the Nobel Prize winners Sinclair Lewis and William Faulkner were monitored in part because they favored racial equality.
Witnesses at Hearing Urge Congress to Enlist Antidoping Agency and Save Horse Racing
By JOE DRAPE
“I was stunned by the lengths some trainers will go to win races,” Jesse M. Overton, a former racing commissioner in Minnesota, told a House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. “There is no drug or compound that has not been tried in horses, from EPO and anabolic steroids to frog juice and cobra venom. And I promise there are chemists right now working up new, illegal, undetectable substances to give a trainer who wants a performance advantage, especially if he doesn’t have the fastest horse.”
Service Members Left Vulnerable to Payday Loans
BY JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG AND PETER EAVIS
Nearly seven years since the Military Lending Act came into effect, government authorities say the law has gaps that threaten to leave hundreds of thousands of service members across the country vulnerable to potentially predatory loans — from credit pitched by retailers to pay for electronics or furniture, to auto-title loans to payday-style loans. The law, the authorities say, has not kept pace with high-interest lenders that focus on servicemen and women, both online and near bases.
Some lenders, military members say, use threats to ensure that they are repaid. The service members said they were told that if they fell behind, the lenders would go to their commanding officers.
By RON NIXON New York Times
Under changes proposed by the Obama administration, the agency would be allowed to use up to 45 percent of its food-aid money to buy locally, but Congress has rejected that. As a result, international aid groups say that there might be long delays in getting food to the Philippines in time for people who need it, said Eric Munoz, a Washington policy analyst with Oxfam International, a humanitarian group.
By ROBERT DALLEK
What made Kennedy Great?
WASHINGTON — Fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, he remains an object of almost universal admiration. And yet, particularly this year, his legacy has aroused the ire of debunkers who complain that Kennedy is unworthy of all this adulation.
He was, they say, all image and no substance, a shallow playboy whose foreign policy mistakes and paltry legislative record undermine any claim to greatness. His assassination, personal attributes of good looks and charm, joined to Jacqueline Kennedy’s promotion of a Camelot myth, have gone far to explain his popularity.
By ROGER COHEN
HAMBURG, Germany — It being the 100th anniversary of Willy Brandt’s birth, the image has been much present in Germany: the former chancellor on his knees in the Warsaw ghetto in the silent act that defined German shame for the Holocaust. As Brandt later said, “Carrying the burden of the millions who were murdered, I did what people do when words fail them.”
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
One year after the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh, many retailers that sold garments produced there or inside the Rana Plaza building that collapsed last spring are refusing to join an effort to compensate the families of the more than 1,200 workers who died in those disasters. A handful of retailers — led by Primark, an Anglo-Irish company, and C&A, a Dutch-German company — are deeply involved in getting long-term compensation funds off the ground, one for Rana Plaza’s victims and one for the victims of the Tazreen fire, which killed 112 workers last Nov. 24.
POLITICS & IDEAS by William A. Galston
Wall Street Journal
If the CBO is right, the population of Americans 65 or older would rise by 37% over the next decade and 85% by 2038. The number of Social Security beneficiaries would rise correspondingly—from 57 million today to 76 million in 2023 and a staggering 101 million just 15 years later. The system’s actuarial shortfall would amount to 3.4% of taxable payroll, significantly more than the 2.72% the trustees expect. And the surge in Social Security outlays is only one of many challenging consequences of a rapidly aging society.
Tennessee Pastor Disputes Wildlife Possession Charge by State
Asserting the Right to Handle Snakes: A 22-year-old preacher who has become a reality television star because of his experience in handling poisonous snakes is facing charges in Tennessee.
By ALAN BLINDER
Published: November 15, 2013
Andrew Hamblin, pastor of the Tabernacle Church of God in nearby LaFollette and a star of “Snake Salvation,” a recent series on the National Geographic Channel, said he hoped to turn the case against him in Campbell County General Sessions Court into a new front in the battle for religious liberty. During the raid, the officers seized about 50 snakes from the church’s Snake Room, including copperheads, timber rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, and cited Mr. Hamblin on one count carrying a possible punishment of a $2,500 fine and nearly a year in prison. Mr. Hamblin, who is to return to court next month, has not been charged with violating Tennessee’s 1947 ban on snake handling.
A Dirty Secret Lurks in the Struggle Over a Fiscal ‘Grand Bargain’
By JACKIE CALMES //Published: November 18, 2013
But the dirty secret — a phrase used independently, and privately, by people in both parties — is that neither side wants to take the actions it demands of the other to achieve a breakthrough. “Do Republicans want to propose changes in entitlements?” he added. “Basically you’re talking about Medicare and Social Security, which a lot of Tea Party folks get, given their ages. Do Democrats want to propose changes in taxes for upper-income individuals? Well, given the support they’re getting from upper-income individuals, I’m not sure they want to take the lead on that.”
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 15, 2013
Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday rejected calls to expand Medicaid in Alaska, citing cost concerns and prompting an outcry from critics who say the decision will leave thousands of Alaskans without care. Mr. Parnell, a Republican, said he believes a “costly Medicaid expansion, especially on top of the broken Obamacare system, is a hot mess.” The governor faced pressure from health, advocacy and business organizations to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. For states that do, on Jan. 1 the federal law will increase Medicaid eligibility to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, which in Alaska would be about $19,800. The federal government is expected to cover the cost for the first three years, through 2016, and the bulk of the cost indefinitely, with the states contributing. Studies have suggested that 26,000 to 40,000 people would have benefited.
Alabama Judges Retain the Right to Override Juries in Capital Sentencing
By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: November 18, 2013
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to an unusual Alabama capital-sentencing practice that has sent 95 defendants to death row despite jury determinations calling for life sentences. “What could explain Alabama judges’ distinctive proclivity for imposing death sentences in cases where a jury has already rejected that penalty?” Justice Sotomayor asked. “There is no evidence that criminal activity is more heinous in Alabama than in other states or that Alabama juries are particularly lenient.”
By MICHAEL POWELL
Published: November 18, 2013
When United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower, the windows in Mark Scherzer’s apartment collapsed inward in a fine spray of glass shards. Then the tower collapsed and a metal beam flew in, true as an arrow. Dust, inches thick, covered his floors, bed and shelves. “Security cannot be the be-all and end-all of how we organize our lives,” said Mr. Scherzer, who has joined his neighbors in suing to block the “fortresslike” plans for his neighborhood. “There is a constant sense of police presence — everything is observed, every movement regulated. “New York has never been that for me.”
NSA INUNDATED WITH 988% INCREASE IN FOIA REQUESTS
by LARRY O’CONNOR 18 Nov 2013
USA Today is reporting that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been inundated with Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations of domestic surveillance carried out be the Obama Administration.Read More
Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?
By DANIEL DUANE
Published: November 9, 2013
In stories where the driver had been cited, the penalty’s meagerness defied belief, like the teenager in 2011 who drove into the 49-year-old cyclist John Przychodzen from behind on a road just outside Seattle, running over and killing him. The police issued only a $42 ticket for an “unsafe lane change” because the kid hadn’t been drunk and, as they saw it, had not been driving recklessly.
Two Massachusetts women killed when motorist hits a group of bicyclists during annual ride in New Hampshire.
U.S.A. Today 9/21/13
HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) — A car slammed into a group of bicyclists Saturday during an annual ride along the New England coastline, killing two riders and injuring three others, police said. The crash happened on a two-lane bridge in Hampton at about 8:30 a.m., just after the start of the 40th annual Granite State Wheelmen Tri-State Seacoast Century ride. Police said two Massachusetts women were killed. They were identified as Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers. Two other riders suffered non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Finding Fault Everywhere He Looked
‘A Colossal Wreck’ Is Alexander Cockburn’s Take on America
By DWIGHT GARNER
Published: November 12, 2013
It’s worth lingering on Mr. Cockburn’s Kerouac-ian impulses (“I love scrubby old state highways, warm with commercial life”), because out in the middle of America was where he seemed happiest. From his mobile war rooms, he kept an eye on his adopted country. A class warrior, he kept closer watch through his windscreen on unchecked corporate power.
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
But my favorite newly studied method of combating sore muscles is watermelon juice, which, according to an experiment published in July in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, contains a hefty dose of l-citrulline, a substance that seems to protect muscles against pain. Cyclists who drank about 17 ounces of fresh watermelon juice an hour before completing a strenuous interval session experienced fewer aches afterward than riders drinking a placebo.
Depression Tied to Parkinson’s Risk
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
The study, published online in Neurology, found that 66 patients with depression, or 1.42 percent, developed Parkinson’s disease, compared with 97, or 0.52 percent, among those who were not depressed. After controlling for age, sex, diabetes, hypertension and other factors, the researchers found clinical depression was associated with more than three times the risk for Parkinson’s disease.
Zoos Try to Ward Off a Penguin Killer
Penguins at the London Zoo. Last year, six penguins died of malaria at the zoo.
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: October 6, 2013
“It’s probably the top cause of mortality for penguins exposed outdoors,” said Dr. Allison N. Wack, a veterinarian at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, which is building a new exhibit that will double its flock to a hundred birds. If left untreated, the disease would probably kill at least half the birds it infected, though outbreaks vary widely in intensity.
The avian version is not a threat to humans because mosquitoes carrying malaria and the parasites are species-specific; mosquitoes that bite birds or reptiles tend not to bite mammals, said Dr. Paul P. Calle, chief veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs New York City’s zoos. And avian malaria is caused by strains of the Plasmodium parasite that do not infect humans.
By JANE E. BRODY
Most people know that obesity can result in serious health problems, yet many of us continue to focus on its cosmetic consequences rather than its risks to health.
The designation may change how aggressively doctors treat obesity, foster the development of new therapies, and lead to better coverage byinsurers. After all, the price of not treating obesity is now in the stratosphere. Obesity-related health conditions cost the nation more than $150 billion and result in an estimated 300,000 premature deaths each year.
If the population’s weight gain is not soon capped (or better yet, reversed), experts predict that half of adults in America will be obese by 2040. The A.M.A. has said in effect that it is medicine’s responsibility to provide the knowledge and tools needed to curb this runaway epidemic.
The 21st Century Silver Spoon
The Great Divide by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett
In 1899, the sociologist Thorstein Veblen scathingly critiqued what he called the “conspicuous consumption” of America’s upper class. The rich were so obsessed with their social status, he wrote, that they would go to gratuitous lengths to signal it. His famous example was silver flatware: handcrafted silver spoons, though no more “serviceable” than and hardly distinguishable from aluminum ones, conferred high social rank and signaled membership in what he called the “leisure class.”
In Praise of Art Forgeries
By BLAKE GOPNIK
Published: November 2, 2013
Our current market, geared toward the ultra-wealthy, is helping few and hurting many. It stomps down all the emerging and midlevel dealers, artists, curators and even collectors who can’t play in the big-money game. It’s also hurting all the art lovers, current and future, who deserve work that’s conceived to address artistic issues, not to sell well to robber barons. If forgers can help burst our art bubble, blessings be upon them.Read More
By JON OSTROWER and DANIEL MICHAELS CONNECT
Airlines’ push to lure high-paying fliers with flatbed business seats and premium economy loungers is leaving economy-class passengers with less space. A push over the past decade by carriers to expand higher-fare sections has shrunk the area devoted to coach on many big jetliners. But airlines don’t want to drop passengers. So first airlines slimmed seats to add more rows. Now, big carriers including AMR Corp.’s AAMRQ -1.35% American Airlines, Air Canada, AC.B.T +8.18% Air France-KLM SA AF.FR -0.29% and Dubai’s Emirates Airline are cutting shoulder space by wedging an extra seat into each coach row. That shift is bringing the short-haul standard to long-haul flying. ”With food and TV,” said Mr. Clark at Emirates, “people are mesmerized.”
By Nicholas Kristof, New York Times – November 3, 2013
The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council this year ranked the United States health care system last or near last in several categories among 17 countries studied. The Commonwealth Fund put the United States dead last of seven industrialized countries in health care performance. And Bloomberg journalists ranked the United States health care system No. 46 in efficiency worldwide, behind Romania and Iran.
The reason is simple: While some Americans get superb care, tens of millions without insurance get marginal care. That’s one reason life expectancy is relatively low in America, and child mortality is twice as high as in some European countries. Now that’s a scandal.
Yet about half the states are refusing to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured people — because they don’t trust Obamacare and want it to fail.
Worse, whenever you’d visit China or Singapore, it was always the people there who used to be on the defensive when discussing democracy. Now, as an American, you’re the one who wants to steer away from that subject. After all, how much should we be bragging about a system where it takes $20 million to be elected to the Senate; or where a majority of our members of Congress choose their voters through gerrymandering rather than voters choosing them; or where voting rights laws are being weakened;
To the Editor:
With its magnificent trees taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, Central Park is often referred to as the “lungs” of New York City. As developers continue to fill valuable sky space at the south end of the park with ever taller steel and glass towers, an unhealthy spot in the form of a permanent shadow has appeared on the lungs of New York. That shadow is now threatening to expand.
By JOHN A. CASSARA
Watchdog groups like the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Global Financial Integrity and Global Witness say that anonymous companies registered in the United States have become the vehicle of choice for drug dealers, organized criminals and corrupt politicians to evade taxes and launder illicit funds. A study by researchers at Brigham Young University, the University of Texas and Griffith University in Australia concluded that America was the second easiest country, after Kenya, in which to incorporate a shell company.
John A. Cassara, a former special agent for the Treasury Department, is the author, most recently, of a novel, “Demons of Gadara.”
Nadezhda L. Shvetsova, 27, a flight attendant in training for Aeroflot, described the lessons she received as “teaching people to be happy, to enjoy what they are doing and to have a positive outlook” — the thousand years of famine, invasion and misfortune that shaped the Russian mind-set notwithstanding.
By SCOTT SHANE
The C.I.A. dispatches undercover officers overseas to gather intelligence today roughly the same way spies operated in biblical times. But the N.S.A., born when the long-distance call was a bit exotic, has seen its potential targets explode in number with the advent of personal computers, the Internet and cellphones. Today’s N.S.A. is the Amazon of intelligence agencies, as different from the 1950s agency as that online behemoth is from a mom-and-pop bookstore. It sucks the contents from fiber-optic cables, sits on telephone switches and Internet hubs, digitally burglarizes laptops and plants bugs on smartphones around the globe.
These arguments are made on the grounds of both compassion and the fragility of the recovery. Measures that grant more spending power to lower-income people generally have strong effects throughout the economy because the money is spent immediately and then re-spent. Moody’s Analytics has estimated that every additional dollar spent on food stamps generates about $1.74 in economic activity.
Food stamps are likely to be cut more in the coming years if Congress can agree on a new farm bill, which House and Senate negotiators began tackling this week. The Republican-controlled House has approved cutting as much as $40 billion from the program over 10 years by making it harder to qualify. The Democratic-controlled Senate is suggesting a $4 billion cut by making administrative changes.
To poor families trying to stretch a couple hundred dollars into a month’s worth of groceries, all the talk about stimulus packages, farm subsidies and congressional politics means little. It is all about daily survival at the grocery store.
By RON NIXON
WASHINGTON — The federal government paid $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies from 1995 to 2012 to 50 billionaires or businesses in which they have some form of ownership, according to a report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based research organization.
“The irony is that farm subsidies are going to billionaires at the same time that there are proposals to kick three to five million people off of food stamps,” said Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “This clearly highlights the need for reform to our farm programs.”
By DAVID KEEN
Over the past 25 years, there has been a lot of lesson-learning in the humanitarian community, but we seem to have a knack for learning the wrong lessons. Today, apparently mesmerized by the specter of international terrorism (and neglecting the cross-border relief that was eventually adopted in Sudan), we are again depriving civilians in rebel-held areas of vital humanitarian assistance.
David Keen, a professor of conflict studies at the London School of Economics, is the author of “Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them.”
Buildings for Billionaires: A new crop of ultra-luxurious New York high rises are vying to be the next hot “it” building and are attracting billionaires from nearby as well as abroad.
This new crop of super-luxurious New York high rises — skyscrapers so tall they needed approval from the Federal Aviation Administration — are attracting Wall Street moneymen, company executives and foreigners alike. Analysts estimate the percentage of foreign buyers in Manhattan real estate has jumped to about 30 or 40 percent of total sales, or double long-running averages.
The daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton and her financier husband have signed a contract for a marvelous 4-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom apartment in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. The 4,967-square-foot condo ….Looks like the 33-year-old Clinton and her husband snagged the top-floor unit, which was listed for $10.5 million and includes access to a private elevator and keys to a resident-only gym.
Business Groups See Loss of Sway Over House G.O.P.
By ERIC LIPTON, NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
Published: October 9, 2013 NYTIMES
After the 2010 elections, the Chamber and other business interests funneled millions of dollars into Republican redistricting efforts around the country, helping draw overwhelmingly safe Republican districts whose occupants — many among the most conservative House members — are now far less vulnerable to challenges from more moderate Republicans.
Real Estate Boom in Phoenix Brings Its Own Problems
By FERNANDA SANTOS
Published: October 9, 2013 NYTIMES
While developers are wary about getting back to building starter homes — if land cost is too high and construction workers are commanding premium salaries, there are no guarantees for a significant return on their investment, they reason — the luxury market is roaring back, as banks are eager to lend to buyers with unblemished credit and a lot of money for a down payment. One factor is interest rates on mortgages for expensive homes, known as jumbo loans, which recently dipped below those on smaller mortgages, a very rare occurrence, analysts say.
By 2047, Coldest Years May Be Warmer Than Hottest in Past, Scientists Say
Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times
To put it another way, for a given geographic area, “the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past,” said Camilo Mora, the lead scientist on a paper published in the journal Nature. Unprecedented climates will arrive even sooner in the tropics, Dr. Mora’s group predicts, putting increasing stress on human societies there, on the coral reefs that supply millions of people with fish, and on the world’s greatest forests. “Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced,” Dr. Mora said in an interview. “What we’re saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm.”
Stubborn Skills Gap in America’s Work Force
Published: October 8, 2013 Eduardo Porter
The American economy rewards skill very well, but the supply hasn’t responded.”
The United States was the first country to provide for universal high school education. Today, one high school student in five leaves without a diploma, a weaker outcome than in most O.E.C.D. countries. The math and reading scores of American teenagers in O.E.C.D. tests have not improved over the last 10 years. And our college graduation rates have slipped substantially below those of other rich nations.
Schools do not appear to be adding much value. Nor do employers, which do little to train workers. Immigration by less educated workers from Latin America plays some role. But as the O.E.C.D. notes, two-thirds of low-skilled Americans were born in the United States. And the United States has a poor track record in improving immigrants’ skills.
Socioeconomic status is a barrier. Not only is inequality particularly steep, little is done to redress the opportunity deficit of poorer students. Public investment in the early education of disadvantaged children is meager. Teachers are not paid very well, compared with other countries. And the best teachers tend to end up teaching in affluent schools.
‘Take Note!’ at Mount Vernon
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: September 27, 2013
But as the new library and an accompanying exhibition make abundantly clear, these influential judgments of Washington as a man of action, marred by bookish ignorance, are deeply flawed. The exhibition, “Take Note! George Washington the Reader” (through Jan. 12), gathers more than 86 items, including Washington’s books, letters and a touch screen that allows us to explore his annotations. It shows that Washington’s actions succeeded partly because of what he read: books informed his approaches to warfare, agriculture, government and slavery.
By JULIA PRESTON Published: October 6, 2013 NYTIMES
In north Dayton — until recently a post-apocalyptic landscape of vacant, gutted houses — 400 Turkish families have moved in, many coming from other American cities. Now white picket fences, new roofs and freshly painted porches are signs of a brisk urban renewal led by the immigrants, one clapboard house at a time. “We want to invest in the places where we are accepted better,” said Islom Shakhbandarov, a Turkish immigrant leader. “And we are accepted better in Dayton.”
Other struggling cities are trying to restart growth by luring enterprising immigrants, both highly skilled workers and low-wage laborers. In the Midwest, similar initiatives have begun in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Lansing, Mich., as well as Detroit, as it strives to rise out of bankruptcy. In June, officials from those cities and others met in Detroit to start a common network. “We want to get back to the entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants bring,” said Richard Herman
In Africa, Seeking a License to Kill
By DESMOND TUTU
Published: October 10, 2013 NYTIMES
After the Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was taken to face justice in The Hague, the country was able to rebuild.
Without this court, there would be no brake on the worst excesses of these criminals. And these violent leaders continue to plague Africa: the Great Lakes, Mali, northern Nigeria and Egypt all give reason for concern. Perpetrators of violence must not be allowed to wriggle free. Moreover, where justice and order are not restored, there can be no healing, leaving violence and hatred ticking like a bomb in the corner. We know too well that long, painful road to healing in South Africa, as do the people of Kenya. As Africa begins to find its voice in world affairs, it must strengthen its commitment to the rule of law, not undermine it. These principles are part of our global moral and legal responsibility, not items from a menu we can choose only when it suits us.
Donald Cabana, Warden Who Loathed Death Penalty, Dies at 67
By BRUCE WEBER NYTIMES
Published: October 13, 2013
“But in the end,” he went on, “my experience with condemned prisoners was always that once strapped to the chair, they came around somehow with something, if only something simple as ‘Tell the victim’s family I’m sorry,’ ‘Tell my mother I’m sorry,’ something that indicated something bad had happened, I was there and I was part of it.
“But not so with this young man. When I performed my ritualistic function of asking if he had a final public statement, this young man looked me in the eye with tears streaming down his cheeks, and he said: ‘Warden, you’re about to become a murderer. I did not kill that policeman, and dear God, I can’t make anyone believe me.’ ” Mr. Cabana continued: “Well, you know, we read about that sort of thing, and of course the average person who reads that, the average legislator probably who reads that, says, ‘Well, what do you expect him to say?’ I must tell you that four days ago I had a rather gut-wrenching meeting with a former high official who is now convinced the young man was, in fact, telling the truth. And I must say to you that however we do it, in the name of justice, in the name of law and order, in the name of retribution, you — and when I say you, I mean, generically, Americans — do not have the right to ask me, or any prison official, to bloody my hands with an innocent person’s blood.”
Haiti’s Imported Disaster
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: October 12, 2013
Haiti’s cholera epidemic, now entering its fourth year, has killed more than 8,300 people and sickened more than 650,000. It is a calamity, though one fundamentally different from the earthquake, hurricanes and floods that have beset the fragile country since 2010. It is, instead, a man-made disaster, advocates for Haitian victims contend, asserting the epidemic is a direct result of the negligence of United Nations peacekeepers who failed to keep their contaminated sewage out of a river from which thousands of Haitians drink.
The United Nations has refused to accept blame, though the evidence of its peacekeepers’ recklessness is overwhelming. Haiti had been free of cholera for a century until October 2010, when the outbreak began near a peacekeepers’ base that had been leaking human waste through broken pipes into a tributary of the Artibonite River; the peacekeepers were from Nepal, and so was the cholera strain.
Monarchs Fight for Their Lives
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Published: October 12, 2013
Monarchs have the misfortune to rely exclusively on a plant that farmers all across the Midwest and Northeast consider a weed. There is a direct parallel between the demise of milkweeds — killed by the herbicide glyphosate, which is sprayed by the millions of gallons on fields where genetically modified crops are growing — and the steady drop in monarch numbers. To anyone who has grown up in the Midwest, the result seems very strange. After decades of trying to eradicate milkweed, gardeners are being encouraged to plant it in their gardens, and townships and counties are being asked to let it thrive in the roadside ditches. What looks like agricultural success, purging bean and corn fields of milkweed (among other weeds), turns out to be butterfly disaster. This is the great puzzle of species conservation — it has to be effective at nearly every stage of a species’ life cycle. And this, too, is the dilemma of human behavior. We live in a world of unintended consequences of our own making, which can never be easily undone.Read More
Hey ‘Starry Night,’ Say ‘Cheese!’
By DEBORAH SOLOMON
Published: September 28, 2013
Nonetheless, the vogue for digital photography is a constructive development that, for the most part, enhances our experience of art. First, there is the eye factor. A visitor who photographs van Gogh’s “Starry Night” echoes, however wanly or casually, the basic mission of visual art: to celebrate the act of looking. When you gaze through a lens, you are likely to consider the world more deeply. You frame space and take note of composition, the curve of a line, the play of light and shadow. As the photographer Dorothea Lange noted, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
We are at the tipping point where art museums are poised to become copying centers whose every single artwork can be reproduced in digital form a million times every day.
I say hooray. When we photograph, e-mail, tweet and Instagram paintings, we capitalize on technological innovation to expand familiarity with an ancient form. So, too, we increase the visual literacy of this country. Much can be gained. Nothing can be lost. A photograph of a painting can no more destroy a masterpiece than it can create one.
Powerful drugs are helping to reduce AIDS deaths in South Africa and elsewhere.
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: September 28, 2013
In a time of depressing news worldwide, about dysfunction and crisis from Syria to our own Congress, here’s one area of spectacular progress.
The share of people in the developing world who live in extreme poverty has been reduced from 1 in 2 in 1980 to 1 in 5 today, according to the World Bank. Now the aim is to reduce that to almost zero by 2030.
There will still be poverty, of course, just as there is far too much poverty lingering in America. But the extreme hanging-by-your-fingernails subsistence in a thatch-roof hut, your children uneducated and dying — that will go from typical to essentially nonexistent just in the course of my adult life.
The drop in mortality understates the gains, because diseases don’t just kill people but also leave them disabled or unproductive, wrecking the economy. Poor people used to go blind routinely from disease or were unable to work for want of reading glasses. Now they are much less likely to go blind, and far more likely to get glasses.
These achievements aren’t just the result of work by Western donors or aid groups. Some of the biggest gains resulted from economic growth in China and India. When the poor are able to get jobs, they forge their own path out of poverty.
‘Affordable Care’ or a Rip-Off?
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: September 28, 2013
For those who balk at the new bills, it is useful to remember that those high co-payments are largely a function of the uniquely high price of medical services in the United States — everything from drugs to scans to operating room time.
In a country where even minor medical procedures cost two or three times more than elsewhere in the developed world, cost-sharing is far more likely to be a burden. A healthy 60-year-old in California with a chronic condition like asthma who needs little more than asthma medicine and an outpatient hernia operation could easily pay $7,000 in premiums plus a $2,250 deductible plus $3,000 for the 20 percent hospital co-pay. When my husband recently developed a blood clot in his leg after a bicycling injury, the generic heparin shots to treat the condition cost $1,400 at the pharmacy. Though the medicine is nothing new, our insurer considered it a specialty drug because of its price. Under some states’ silver plans, that would require a 50 percent, or $700, co-pay before getting this potentially lifesaving treatment.
Does that seem affordable, or not?
G.O.P Draws its weapons to fight health care law
Represenitive Devin Nunes, Republican of California likened the hard-line, conservative members of his conference to “lemmings with suicide vests.”
“It’s kind of an insult to lemmings to call them them lemming,so they’d have to be more than just a lemming, because humping to your death is not enough,”He said.
A Surface Calm, Punctured by Artillery and Weary Arguments
By ANNE BARNARD
Published: September 28, 2013
One recent evening at a Damascus restaurant, two longtime friends who took opposite sides early in the uprising lamented where it had ended up. The government opponent denounced Damascus intellectuals for ceding leadership of the rebellion to armed groups. The pro-government friend, surprisingly, was more forgiving, noting the government of President Bashar al-Assad had cracked down quickly on peaceful activists.
“They were never given the space to act,” she said.
On both sides, flashes of emotion telegraph deepening frustration. Walking past a wall scrawled with the slogan “Assad only, Assad forever,” one government supporter spluttered: “This is wrong. Syria is for my children — for everyone equally, not just for one person.”
Resentment between those who fled and those who stayed also suffuses the opposition.
At another gathering, a government critic complained that the exile opposition had gutted the movement by luring young activists to Turkey to work fruitlessly, if lucratively, to set up an alternative government.
The critic’s daughter said she had lost hope that their dreams of democracy would be achieved. “Not in our lifetime,” she said.
The critic, appalled, said: “No! Maybe not in my lifetime. But in yours,” adding, “We’ll see.”
The young woman shook her head. “We’ve been seeing,” she said.
Amid Bloodshed in Pakistan, a Stock Exchange Soars
By DECLAN WALSH
Published: October 3, 2013
Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times
In Karachi, where most big companies and banks have their headquarters, about 2,500 people died violently last year. But the bloodshed is concentrated in the city’s working-class areas, allowing the wealthy to continue with life as normal — with some adjustments like layers of security barriers and heavily armed private security forces.
“As far as the killings go, forget about it — that’s part of life,” said Zain Hussain, chief executive of the stock brokerage firm Taurus Securities. “It’s something that I am immune to, and so are most investors.”
By STEPHANIE STROM
Published: September 30, 2013
No one is certain why Goss’s wilt has become so rampant in recent years. But many plant pathologists suspect that the biggest factor is the hybrids chosen for genetic modification by major seed companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
“My theory is that there were a couple of hybrids planted that were selected because they had extremely high yield potentials,” said Dr. Robertson, whose research is financed by Monsanto and the Agriculture Department. “They also may have been highly susceptible to Goss’s wilt.”
About 90 percent of the corn grown in the United States comes from seeds that have been engineered in a laboratory, their DNA modified with genetic material not naturally found in corn species. Almost all American corn, for instance, is now engineered to resist the powerful herbicide glyphosate (often sold as Roundup), so farmers can kill weeds without killing their corn.Read More