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In The Public Interest

The balancing tensions of Ashraf Ghani

Ashraf Ghani, the thoughtful new president of Afghanistan, came to Washington last week, and the trip probably met his expectations. He wanted to thank the United States for “defending freedom” in his country, and he did this more profusely than any foreign leader in recent history.

Same old political song and dance

When the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has its annual howling convention in the Washington, D.C., area, the mainstream mass media expands its coverage like an accordion, from the weeks leading up to the gathering to the analysis of the aftermath. Why? Because a demanding CPAC summons all the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination, and woe be the potential candidates who excuse themselves.

Billionaire Hanauer hammers stock buybacks

Self-made billionaire (meaning he didn’t inherit it), Nick Hanauer is not one to mince words, especially when they are backed by facts and principles of fairness. The Seattle entrepreneur, author and venture capitalist, who was the first non-family investor in Amazon, is known for vocally championing Seattle’s staggered increase of its minimum wage to $15 an hour as good for workers and the economy. Any contrary corporatist to debate him on this subject would lose big.

Netanyahu, the other Israelis and Robbie Burns

A part from inadvertently making the case for equal time by his Israeli pre-election opposition, the spectacle of Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild diatribe at the joint session of Congress amidst the feral cheers of his congressional yahoos will be remembered as a textbook case of propaganda unhinged from reality.

New sports exposé: Changes needed in all directions

Make no mistake about it, sports are important.
That’s true if for no other reason than the fact that sports absorb billions of hours of people’s time — at all ages. Whatever you think about sports, they’re clearly important for that reason alone.
Sports are also important because they have become a multibillion-dollar industry, one of the top 10 biggest industries in the country. According to Plunkett Research, the estimated size of the entire sports industry in 2012 was $435 billion. That makes it much bigger than the U.S. auto industry, movie industry and many others.

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An open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.

80 Wellington St.

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor’s many achievements (see “Canada Firsts” by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation — the new anti-terrorism act — is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.

Letter to Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines

Feb. 13, 2015

Jeff Smisek, CEO

United Airlines, Inc.

PO Box 06649

Chicago, IL 60606-0649

 

Dear Mr. Smisek,

Two stories have come to public attention about your airline which invites some serious introspection by you and your fellow executives who make millions of dollars a year.

Large foundations: Rethink your priorities

The number of large foundations has been consistently increasing. Some of these foundations are bulging with billions of dollars in assets that could be contributed to nonprofit “good works.” It is potentially the golden age of philanthropy, but unfortunately many areas of recognized need are too often ignored by foundation boards and their executives. Organizations with track records of effective advocacy and accomplishment stand ready to take on neglected problems of our society. Unfortunately, these groups lack adequate foundation support.

Mainstream media: Who gets on and who does not

Over the years, discussions about whom the mainstream media gives voice to and whom it excludes are far too general. Editors bristle at the notion that they are anything but fair and objective. Sure, they concede that reporters miss stories, but appearances of bias or censorship, they say, are more likely due to laziness.

Obama’s State of the Union—swings and misses

The president’s State of the Union Addresses are rarely focused. They are written by numerous speechwriters and put through many drafts, each reflecting the urgings by interested parties to have their issues mentioned. Often, this makes the speech sound like a grab bag of lists.

But once up on the teleprompter before a joint session of Congress and a thousand reporters and commentators, the speech becomes a signaling presentation by what the President says, how the president says it and what the president does not say.