An overwhelming majority of Americans think that the Supreme Court justices’ political views will influence how they vote on the Obama health care reform cases…
Respondents were asked “The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the constitutionality of the health care reform law signed by President Obama in 2010. Do you expect the Court will make this decision based solely on legal merits, or do you expect politics will influence how some justices vote? ”
The poll found 75 percent of Americans think politics will influence the justice’s votes, while 17 percent think they will vote solely on the legal merits, and 8 percent aren’t sure.
Respondents who described themselves as politically independent were most skeptical of the justices’ ability to keep politics out of their decision making process; 80 percent of independents thought politics would influence the justices. Of Republicans, 74 percent thought politics would play a factor, while just 65 percent of Democrats thought politics would influence the outcome.
This is the result of decades of Republicans making revision of the Supreme Court a central task of every Republican presidency – and Democrats lacking the backbone to fight for an independent judiciary. While we’ve seen dry academic polls lay out this change starting with the Reagan years — till now, there was some conviction that the conservatives on the bench would continue to spell the word with a small “c”. This poll demonstrates that the American people have no belief in that being true at all.
We all know the level of contempt felt for the corruption factory that is Congress. And the nation – divided as it is in response to the ideologues of the Right and Religion who preach division – stays divided over the residents of the White House. But, it is a new state of affairs when the third branch of our tripartite government has plunged to the same depths of perceived crony corruption as the rest of government.
I guess we can give special thanks to the Republican Party, once again, for the reintroduction of class warfare to the United States.
It is the violence of Gandhi’s death, this complete and contemptuous negation of everything he lived for, which is the shocking thing. Yet paradoxically, this is the aesthetic end to a life of non-violence, the end which, one imagines, the old man would have chosen for himself.
I remember, in the very middle of the war, I went as a war correspondent to interview him in Delhi. It was an excessively hot afternoon and I sat cross-legged on the floor sweating through my army uniform. Gandhi leaned back on a white bolster, wearing nothing but a loincloth, and he said amiably: “What is the good of our talking? You and the people you represent are committed to violence. I am interested only in non-violence. We have nothing to say to one another.”
I asked him if he was prepared to see the Japanese invade India (they were then very close in Burma) “Why not?” he said. “They can’t kill us all.” He went on to propound his famous doctrine: never oppose violence with violence. “Non-violence,” he said, “requires an even higher kind of courage than violence. You must be just as prepared to lay down your life – even more so.” I remember how cheerful he was that afternoon, how healthy with his great brown barrel of a chest, and how wittily he talked.
Nor was he much changed when I went to one or two of his prayer meetings in Delhi this winter. He was still getting up at four in the morning to exercise, he was still the nimblest (and I think the gayest) good brain in India, and he was still talking in parables on precisely the same theme.
Of course he becomes a martyr now; more than that – a mystical legend and a god. It is probably a waste of time trying to assess him in western terms. Inevitably, the mysticism and the fatalism intervene, blocking out all logic. I do not think Jawaharlal Nehru and the others ever expected practical politics from Gandhi, but they were inspired by him just the same. They loved him passionately.
I never met anyone in India who came away from a meeting with the old man without being captivated and in a slightly elevated condition of mind. He had an overpowering charm under that humility. He talked hard common sense as a rule and the mysticism ran between the lines.
What happens now? It seems almost impossible to be optimistic. The country has lost its figurehead, its living public conscience. Who is to speak against racial hatred now with that authority? The British kept the peace with police and prestige and Gandhi did it with love. Now, within six short months, both police and love have vanished together. Perhaps enough of his followers will obey his creed of non-violence. Whatever the immediate effect may be, at least his influence in the long run can only be for the good.
He has been missed in so many ways.
Looks like the Brits – and especially the Tories – are getting worried about for-real devolution, this time. This is a fiery topic with old mates of mine in Progressive politics in the UK coming down on both sides of the question. As a “child” of the Highland Clearances, I’m a supporter of sovereignty for Scotland. Causes more pub rows than an Auld Firm derby.
Dutch Ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan throws petals over graves at the Rawagede Hero Cemetery
The Dutch government formally apologised Friday for a 1947 massacre on Indonesia’s Java island, in an emotional ceremony on the anniversary of the executions by its colonial army.
Dutch troops swooped into a village in the town of Rawagede during Indonesia’s fight for independence and executed men and boys as their families and neighbours looked on. Dutch officials say 150 people were killed, but a support group and the local community say the death toll was 431.
“In this context and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede on the 9th of December, 1947,” the Netherlands ambassador to Indonesia Tjeerd de Zwaan said.
He then repeated the apology in the Indonesian language, to the applause of hundreds of people attending the ceremony, some of whom broke down in tears as they listened in front of a marble monument commemorating the dead.
In a landmark ruling, a Hague-based civil court in September found the Dutch state responsible for the executions and ruled in favour of eight widows and a survivor of the massacre who lodged the case. Two of the widows have since died, and so has the survivor, Saih Bin Sakam, who passed away in May at the age of 88…
One of the widows, 93-year-old Anti Rukiyah, said she was relieved to finally receive an apology, and would use the compensation money to help her children buy a home…
I live in a land where fools in one political party condemn members of the other as unpatriotic cowards for “apologizing for America”. Slavery and genocide never happened in this Land of Liberty – if you listen jaw agape to the pronouncements of Republicans, Kool Aid Partygoers and the Blue Dog flavor of spineless Democrat.
Someday, no doubt when I will have shuffled off this mortal coil for a century or two, American education will have progressed sufficiently to produce a generation or two of adults who embrace an ethical view of history.
As we celebrated Independence Day at the start of a long hot campaign season, it is worth remembering that patriotism is not the same thing as partisanship.
Our first president, George Washington said, “I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them…”
And the third president — and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, observed: “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all…”
The fact is that 41% of Americans describe themselves as independents — as opposed to Democrats or Republicans — according to an April Washington Post/ABC News poll. Independents are the largest and fastest-growing segment of the electorate. Back in 1945, they made up 15%…
…And the growth of independent voters has occurred precisely as the two parties have become more ideologically polarized than at any time in our recent history…
Buy the mold and make lots of ‘em for your yard
Police in a suburb in the state of Missouri recently encountered one tough alligator — or so they thought.
Officers in Independence, a Kansas City suburb, responded to a call on a Saturday evening about a large alligator lurking on the embankment of a pond, police spokesman Tom Gentry said.
An officer called a state conservation agent, who advised him to shoot the alligator because there was little that conservation officials could do at that time, Gentry said.
As instructed an officer shot the alligator, not once but twice, but both times the bullets bounced off — because the alligator was made of cement…
“In hindsight, it’s humorous,” he said. “But we have to take every call seriously.”
You could chuck a rock at the “critter” if no one’s seen it move in a day or two – before you open fire.
Any idea where the ricochet went?
Almost 4 million southern Sudanese, or roughly half the south’s population, have registered to take part in an independence referendum next week that is likely to split Africa’s largest country in two.
The U.S. State Department said it was optimistic ahead of the vote, which is due to begin in six days and marks the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war in Sudan that killed at least 2 million people and destabilized much of the region…
Southerners are expected to vote to separate from the north and form a new nation.
“The total number of people registered in the south, in the eight countries abroad and in the states of northern Sudan is 3,930,916,” said Chan Reek Madut, a member of the referendum’s organizing commission.
The vast majority of voters are in the southern region. Only some sixty thousand registered in the diaspora and less than 120,000 in the north, amid accusations of voter intimidation and a fear of reprisals should the south separate…
The State Department’s Crowley said both the Obama administration’s special envoy for Sudan, Scott Gration, and Princeton Lyman, a veteran U.S. diplomat named to help negotiations between north and south, would be in Sudan for the vote, and said both sides appeared to be sending “the right signals” about the need for an open and credible process.
But he noted that the two sides remain split on key issues including border demarcation, the fate of the disputed region of Abyei, and the sharing of oil revenues — any of which could spark potential confrontation in the weeks following the referendum…
In order to be valid, the referendum requires that 60 percent of those registered turn out to vote.
Cripes. That wouldn’t work in the great democratic nation of the United $tates of America.
And, yes, I trust the government of Sudan about as far as I could throw them uphill into a heavy wind. These are the gangsters who still say they never knew Osama Bin Laden was training in their land back in the mid-80’s.
They didn’t know. The CIA didn’t know. Anyone who travelled through the region knew. But, official liars say they didn’t know. Hogwash!
Inside the Atlas Cafe
Just after 4 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon, as a dozen people clicked away on their laptops at the Atlas Café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, half of a tree broke off without warning less than a block away. It crashed into the middle of Havemeyer Street, crushing a parked car, setting off alarms and blocking the street. A deafening chorus of horns rose outside Atlas’s window as traffic halted. An 18-wheeler executed a sketchy 10-point turn in the middle of a crowded intersection before a pair of fire trucks made their way through the traffic jam in a blaze of red. Chain saws roared, sawdust flew and the horns built to a peak. It was New York urban pandemonium at its finest.
Inside the warm confines of Atlas, separated from the chaos by only a thin wall of glass, not a soul stirred. A quiet mention was made of the falling tree, a few heads rose for a second, and then, just as quickly, they ducked back down. They all returned to whatever was on the other side of their glowing, partly eaten apples. On a day when the cafe Internet connection had already been down for four hours, and the toilet had been blocked for even longer, I thought I had seen these worker bees pushed to their limit. But I had underestimated them. Nothing could stir these people. They were not in New York; they were citizens of Laptopistan…
I was, admittedly, a profoundly skeptical observer. Though I had been a freelance writer for the last eight years, I had always worked at home, clad in pajamas and brewing my own fuel rather than paying $3 for someone to make pretty designs in my caffeinated foam. Whenever my wife suggested that I get out of the house, maybe take my laptop to a cafe, I shot back: “Real freelancers don’t work in coffee shops. It’s just unemployed hipsters and their unpublished novels, or screenplays, or Facebook stati…”
So what was I doing in Laptopistan? I moved from New York to Toronto in September, but had come back to the city for a week and was sleeping on a friend’s couch. I needed a place to work. Someone suggested Atlas. I swallowed my skepticism and got my passport ready.
Set on the corner of Havemeyer and Grand Streets, and flooded with light from two walls of windows, Atlas Café, which opened in 2003, looks like a combination of worn trattoria and late 1990s Seattle coffeehouse. The name reflects its wall-sized map of the world (there are also a mobile of hanging globes, and flourishes of décor inspired by someone’s travel to the Far East). The soundtrack is a mix of old country and folk (Dylan, Willy, Cohen and Cash), classical, bebop and French ballads…
Laptopistan’s is an entrepreneurial economy, driven by solitary thinkers. Aszure Barton, a choreographer from Alberta, was working with colleagues to prepare for her contemporary dance show called BUSK, which will debut Dec. 17 at the Jerome Robbins Theater. Robert Olinger runs a biotech startup that is getting silkworms to make spider silk at commercial scale, designs online education programs for the New York City Department of Education, and directs theater projects with Russian artists. In just a few days I met architects and event planners, database designers, classical musicians, film editors and app developers, every facet of the creative economy working under one roof, not so much together as in tandem…
RTFA. It’s long, interesting, well-written, sometimes humorous, always introspective. The sort of “notes from our journalist in the field” that keeps much of my weekend online reading stuck into the Observer or the NY Times.
This particular effort reflects a certain portion of my life with telling accuracy. I think much of the style – as observed – fits a close look at intellectuals shoehorned physically if not mentally into an urban shoebox. It still won’t impose restrictions on their curiosity or openness.
And, of course, MacDonald’s can fill the bill as well as many a coffee shop. Or, if you’re in Santa Fe, Java Joe’s.
Drummers below a statue of King Ly Cong Uan
who founded Hanoi as VietNam’s capitol in 1010
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
A musical refrain blared from a loudspeaker as this weekend began — “Hanoi, Hanoi, Hanoi” — and on the sidewalk below, Nguyen Thi Thuy was selling red heart-shaped decals printed with the gold star of Vietnam’s flag.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Ms. Thuy, a 20-year-old college student, who had pasted one of the decals on her cheek.
With parades and concerts and flamboyant kitsch, Hanoi is celebrating its 1,000th anniversary on Sunday, and much of city life has ground to a halt to make way for it…
But in the symbolism of the celebration, the Communist Party ruled supreme, just three months before a once-every-five-years party congress, at the pinnacle of a history that includes royalty and feudalism as well as revolution…
As an urban landscape, though, Hanoi seems mostly to be succeeding, where other Asian cities have failed, in integrating development with preservation.
Zoning laws have maintained the low-rise heart of the city with its shade trees and broad sidewalks. Most development has been shifted to the western suburbs.
Many of the elegant villas of the old French quarter have been preserved, and the bustling Ancient Quarter, choked with tourists and commerce, survives. The area around Hoan Kiem Lake has so far resisted development…
As the city’s modernization picks up pace, it seems, the pace of nostalgia accelerates along with it.
The article is more than a little choppy – likely edited to suit New York/American politics.
After all, this is the celebration of a nation that generally succeeded in rebuffing attempts of their much larger neighbors like China to absorb them. They defeated old colonialists like Japan and France and a new imperialist like the United States. The distance they have brought a nation impoverished by war – by comparison with neighbors like Thailand – is stellar.
Declaration of Independence in 2008
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
Kosovo’s unilateral secession from Serbia in 2008 did not violate international law, the World Court has said in a decision with implications for separatist movements everywhere.
The non-binding, but clear-cut ruling by the International Court of Justice is a major blow to Serbia and will complicate efforts to draw the former pariah ex-Yugoslav republic into the European Union.
It is likely to lead to more states following the United States, Britain and 67 other countries in recognizing ethnic-Albanian dominated Kosovo, which broke away after NATO intervened to end a brutal crackdown on separatism by Belgrade.
It may also embolden breakaway regions in countries ranging from India and Iraq to Serbia’s war-torn neighbor and fellow former Yugoslav republic Bosnia to seek more autonomy.
“The court considers that general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declaration of independence,” Judge Hisashi Owada, president of the ICJ, said in the clear majority ruling delivered in a cavernous hall at the Hague-based ICJ.
“Accordingly it concludes that the declaration of independence of the 17th of February 2008 did not violate general international law…”
News of the court’s decision prompted celebrations in the Kosovo capital Pristina, where people drove through the streets waving Kosovo, U.S. and British flags and shouting “USA, USA!.”
That last bit is scary enough on its own.
Meanwhile, I have to wonder about what depth was dedicated to discussion of ethnic minorities moving into a region – and then claiming it as their own? The history of Kosovo since WW2.
Albanians moved in and eventually became a regional majority and declared independence.
It’s the sort of politic tactic long used as a slander and fear in the United States. First against Mormons. Nowadays – realistically – against Mexicans. I have a few acquaintances who have dedicated their lives to reclaiming the Mexican state of Aztlan – which would include Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California at a minimum.
Xenophobes on the American Right don’t miss a chance to bring it up every chance they have. And there are enough of those, lately.
It’s also cutting off your nose, etc., on the part of the U.S. government which applauds Kosovo – and whines to the heavens over Ossetia. Which is it to be: hypocrisy or a double standard?