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In The Public Interest

The Democrats’ presidential debates: underway, underwhelming

Who thought this up — giving a private corporation (CNN) control of a presidential debate? In the most recent Democratic presidential debate, CNN controlled which candidates were invited, who asked what questions, and the location, Las Vegas — the glittering, gambling center of America. This is a mirror image of the control Fox News exercised during their Republican candidates’ circus. 

Afghanistan and Iraq: lessons for imperialists

The photographs in the New York Times told contrasting stories last week. One showed two Taliban soldiers in civilian clothes and sandals, with their rifles, standing in front of a captured U.N. vehicle. The Taliban forces had taken the northern provincial capital of Kunduz. The other photograph showed Afghan army soldiers fully equipped with modern gear, weapons and vehicles.

Mass media: Raise your expectations for your country

The mass media, with usual exceptions, have allowed themselves to be pulled down to the level of the political circus. If the Republican Party’s early primary campaigns for the presidential nomination had an elephant and a clown car, Ringling Brothers would be in trouble. It is hard for the Republican presidential candidates to resist temptation, defined by hyping an entertainment circus led by the chief circus barker — Donald Trump of gambling casino fame.

General Motors: Still unsafe at any speed

Yes, it’s official. General Motors engaged in criminal wrongdoing, knowing about the lethal defect in its ignition switch that took at least 174 lives and counting, plus serious injuries. At least 1.6 million GM cars — Chevrolet Cobalt and other models — hid this danger from trusting drivers, according to the Center for Auto Safety (www.autosafety.org). Corporation executives who lie to or mislead the federal government violate Title 18 of the federal code, and risk criminal penalties.

Fast, faster, fastest: Why the rush?

Socrates and Plato were not in a hurry. Neither was Aristotle nor Heraclitus. They took time to think deeply. As far back as twenty-four centuries ago, they offered insights and observations about the human condition, character, and personality that are as true today as they were then.

Why Labor Day matters

Here’s an experiment. Quiz your friends, family and acquaintances on the meaning of Labor Day. You might be surprised by the answers you hear. To many, the true meaning of Labor Day has been unfortunately lost. It’s merely a three-day vacation weekend, unless you work in retail, in which case it is, ironically, a day of work and “special” sales.

Lo, the poor enlightened billionaire!

Among the hundreds of billionaires and megabillionaires in the U.S., there are more than several enlightened persons upset by the problems our society faces who could make serious improvements possible.

Why the future doesn’t need us — revisited

  

When the stunning article “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” by Bill Joy, chief scientist for Sun Microsystems, made the cover of Wired Magazine in April 2000, it created quite a rumble in high-tech circles. Its argument was that “our most powerful 21st century technologies — robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech — are threatening to make humans an endangered species.”