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“Lest we forget, this nasty, brutish and short measure of the third Thatcher administration, was designed to slander homosexuality, by prohibiting state schools from discussing positively gay people and our 'pretended family relations.' Opposition to Section 28 galvanised a new generation of activists who joined with long-time campaigners for equality. Stonewall UK was founded to repeal Section 28 and pluck older rotten anti-gay legislation from the constitutional tree. This has taken two decades to achieve. "Pathetically, in her dotage, Baroness Thatcher was led by her supporters into the House of Lords to vote against Section 28's repeal: her final contribution to UK politics. She dies too early to oppose Parliament's inevitable acceptance of same–gender marriage. Thatcher misjudged the future when, according to her deputy chief whip, she 'threw a piece of red meat (Section 28) to her right-wing wolves.' Some of these beasts survive her, albeit de-fanged. When, to take a recent example, a disgraced cardinal delivers anti-gay diatribes, the spirit of social Thatcherism is revealed as barren, hypocritical and now pointless." ”— Sir Ian McKellan, writing on his website.
“This is an agreement that wouldn’t just affect the economy and sustainability in these 11 countries, but has the potential to impact the economy and environment for literally half the world. We find it troubling that … U.S. negotiators still refuse to inform the American public what they have been proposing.”—
In an open letter to the U.S. Congress, 400 organizations demand greater transparency on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP consists of 11 countries that are pushing to enhance patent and data protections for pharmaceutical companies. Doing so would obstruct price-lowering generic competition for medicines, and turn back years of fighting for universal access to medicines.
The Real Afghanistan Problem
Robert Kagan, a neocon who never met a war he didn’t like, has recently written a blogpost criticizing Obama’s new Afghanistan policy on the grounds that the military leadership universally opposes the plan to pull troops out of Afghanistan, even though they say they don’t.
Now as it happens I imagine Kagan’s right about military opinion of Obama’s plans: military leaders prefer to win wars rather than lose or tie them, and given a choice between more resources to get the job done and less resources to get the job done, almost everyone, military or not, prefers more resources.
Kagan’s critique is resonating among Obama critics. The argument is that withdrawing forces from Afghanistan will “jeopardize” or otherwise harm our “progress” there. If we just keep fighting, the argument goes, we will stabilize Afghanistan and create a stable government there, one that will keep the country from being used as a base for al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
Unfortunately, this argument is folly. It’s a classic case of throwing good money after bad.
The reasons are many, but I want to focus on two. First, no one—and I mean no one—has ever “taken” Afghanistan. It has never had a stable government or an integrated civil society such that its citizens felt loyalty to a central political entity and cooperated in resisting anti-state forces in the country. Instead, Afghanistan always has been a riven, tribal society that exists only because international law requires that some political body be described as holding sovereignty within the geographic region it has collectively labeled “Afghanistan.”
Accordingly, the notion that we are building an “Afghanistan” that is a state in a modern sense of the word is ridiculous. The notion that keeping 33,000 troops there for an extra “fighting season” will lead to victory is absurd.
Second, assuming we magically “win” in Afghanistan, what, exactly do we “get” for it? Afghanistan has no resources we wish to trade for or that need US companies to extract. (If it has any resources, as a report once suggested, trust me: they’ll go to the Chinese next door.) It is not centrally located to things that make a meaningful difference to the United States. Even if the US would like to see a pipeline go through Afghanistan, it can hardly be more expensive to build it across a different route than it is to “win” in Afghanistan.
Put another way, no one in the United States particularly cared about Afghanistan before 9/11, and it is not clear that absent 9/11 we’d have felt a profound need to “fix” Afghanistan. There are other ways to prevent Afghanistan being used as a base for terrorism than investing large numbers of lives and vast amounts of money in making “Afghanistan” into a real country.
So Robert Kagan may well be right in that the military opposes Obama’s decision. But so what? All of us have been in a fight and kept fighting well past the point the fight made any sense—we just wanted to win. That’s where the United States finds itself today. We care about winning because we care about winning.
But believe me: just as no one today particularly cares that the United States lost the war in Vietnam (other than our ritual invocations of that war for political purposes), and few people in the US perceive their lives to be materially worse or in greater peril because Vietnam is (supposedly) Communist, it will be much the same with Afghanistan when we wise up and decide to call it a win and come home.
According to the UN, legalizing marijuana for recreation or medicinal use violates international law and “undermines the humanitarian aims of drug control”. My sides are in deep space, but at the same time, I’m filled with rage due to ignorance and the desire by those in power to curb personal experience and freedom, to police consciousness itself. It’s just not moral, and besides that, if I had the $300 to throw down for it, I’d be one of the many patients with a medical marijuana card, because it’s the only thing next to opiates that can even touch the pain I experience. Let’s just say I’d like to personally shove my foot up the collective UN’s asshole.
World War III?
I have been working on this map, collecting news articles and documenting trends over the past couple years, and was surprised when it revealed that the world is deeply divided by two major spheres of influence that dominate and dictate global affairs.
The two major organizations at the center of this are NATO, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) headed by Russia and China. Both are military organizations with each member state promising to protect each others interests and come to aid in the event of war.
This setup creates an interesting situation whereby, at its most basic level, if any two nations from differing alliances go to war, it has the potential, through the domino effect, to bring war to every continent of the world. It is this fear of global conflict that creates such tension points as North and South Korea, Israel and Iran and Pakistan and India.
Ultimately, the global powers of the United States, Russia and China don’t want to go to war but neither is willing to cave to the influence of the other. This simple division of the world helps to explain almost every decision made on the global stage in recent years and will be a good prediction of how nations will interact in the years to come.
Though it is impossible to completely predict the actions of nations and any attempt at doing so will warrant critique, I do believe the map reflects an extremely realistic situation that has bee forming. Though I will agree that many nations would not align themselves with China and Russia, and that East Asia is a new boiling point, especially with tension in the South China Sea, many nations are allied with other nations that are allied to China and Russia, thus the domino effect culminating in global conflict.
Though Africa might not be cut and dry, the domino effect extends even into these areas as states align themselves with regional powers that ultimately connect back to the SCO.
The cold war might be over as you say, but a more accurate comparison would be to Pre-World War I. Just as today, the world was deeply divided by alliances and it only took the action of one crazy man to send the entire precarious system crashing down. Nations are quickly realizing that joining together to protect each other’s interests is a much more effective manor are gaining regional power and influence and protecting their own sovereignty. It is through this realization that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, having only a few official members, is able to garner so much influence around the world.
Panama: The return of Manuel Antonio Noriega
Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega will face his country’s justice for the first time in 21 years. (Getty Images)
The upcoming arrival of former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega to Panama, forces a country with more urgent issues – the rise of drug trafficking, which has led to an urgent agreement with Ecuador to fight the cocaine routes; the rising crime rates, including some recent massacres; and the much-criticized suppression of the indigenous ngöbe bugle population – to take a look in the mirror. Until recently, Noriega, the man who ruled from 1983 until the U.S. invasion of 1989, had become a memory, a dark figure from a past era.
Now the darkness is returning in the flesh.
Noriega used to be the CIA’s most trusted man in Central America until excessive profits received from the same drug dealing and guerrilla operations he was supposed to be fighting against led to his demise. After being captured during President George Bush, Sr.’s tenure, Noriega had spent 21 years in jails between the U.S. and France. However, after France approved his extradition a week ago, Noriega will be repatriated on October 1st, and will face Panama’s justice for the first time.