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In The Public Interest

Obama’s silence must delight Trump

Former President Barack Obama continues to mystify his supporters. He is watching his successor tear down what they see as his administration’s hard-earned initiatives to protect the people’s health, safety and economic well-being, while twisting Washington toward more coddled, tax-subsidized corporatism. Yet our former president mostly remains quiet on matters of substance, providing no powerful voice for Americans to rally around.

The corporate drive to eliminate buying with cash

Over a decade ago, the clerk at the FedEx counter said to one of our interns, “Sorry, we’re not taking cash or checks, only credit cards.”

Since then, the relentless intensification of coercive commercialism has been moving toward a cashless economy, where all consumers are incarcerated within a prison of corporate payment systems from your credit/debit cards to your mobile phone and very soon facial recognition.

“Terrific!” say those consumers for whom convenience and velocity of transactions are irresistible.

The rule of power over the rule of law

Me Too is producing some results, at long last. Victims of sexual assault by men in superior positions of power are speaking out. Big time figures in the entertainment, media, sports and political realms are losing their positions — resigning or being told to leave. A producer at “60 Minutes” thinks Wall Street may be next.

Sexual assaults need stronger sanctions. Only a few of the reported assaulters are being civilly sued under the law of torts. Even fewer are subjects of criminal investigation so far.

Public cynicism enables costly political hypocrisy

The political hypocrisy of crony capitalism –  touting market capitalism while making taxpayers fund corporate welfare – is a rare and unfortunate case of bipartisan consensus. Republicans openly embrace it, but many Democrats also fall prey to government-guaranteed corporate capitalism when they believe it to be politically expedient.

Maybe these examples will get you steamed enough to tell your members of Congress, “Enough already!”

Can the world defend itself from omnicide?

Notice how more frequently we hear scientists tell us that we’re “wholly unprepared” for this peril or for that rising fatality toll? Turning away from such warnings may reduce immediate tension or anxiety, but only weakens the public awareness and distracts us from addressing the great challenges of our time, such as calamitous climate change, pandemics, and the rise of a host of other self-inflicted disasters.

Here are some warnings about rising and looming risks.

Detecting what unravels our society — bottom up and top down

The unraveling of a society’s institutions, stability and reasonable order does not sound alarms  to forewarn the citizenry, apart from economic yardsticks measuring poverty, jobs, wages, health, savings, profits and  other matters economic.

A clarion call for our country’s pillars to demand justice

It is time for an urgent clarion call. Given the retrograde pits inhabited by our ruling politicians and the avaricious overreach of myopic big-business bosses, the self-described pillars of our society must step up to reverse the decline of our country. Here is my advice to each pillar:

The destructive power trips of Amazon’s boss

For his smallish stature, Amazon Boss Jeff Bezos has a booming, uproarious laugh. Unleashed during work days, its sonic burst startles people, given it comes from as harsh and driven a taskmaster as exists on the stage of corporate giantism.

Is Bezos outward giddiness a worrisome reflection of what he’s feeling on the inside? Is he laughing at all of us?

Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions

The hype and unsubstantiated hope behind the self-driving car movement continues unabated, distracting from addressing necessities of old “mobilities” such as inadequate public transit and upgrading highway and rail infrastructure.

At a conference on driverless cars sponsored by the George Washington University Law School earlier this month, the legal landscape of unresolved problems and unasked questions were deliberated for a full day.

Trump: Dumping more prosecutors?

The turmoil inside the Trump White House is much more intense than the media is reporting. Palaces of intrigue, under perceived siege by political and law enforcement adversaries, tend to boil inward before they burst outward.

One of the most perilous decisions for Trump is how far will he go in firing prosecutors looking into his murky dealings past and present. Already he has fired former FBI Director James Comey, who just testified before the Senate flanked by several of his loyal FBI agents in the front seats of the hearing room.