FM newswire for 12 January, hot articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis…

  1. World will ‘cool for the next decade’“, New Scientist, 9 September 2009 — Summary of forecasts about decadal cooling (e.g., “Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector“, Mojib Latif et al, Nature, 1 May 2008) — More rebuttal to the doomsters’ forecasts of imminent doom.
  2. More evidence disproving the wing-nuts belief that the Community Reinvestment Act and FNMA caused the housing bubble:  “Safe as houses – Compare countries’ house-price data over time, The Economist, 30 December 2009 — The housing bubble was a global event.  Great interactive graphic!
  3. Could the Pakistani Government Fall over Karachi Violence? What would it Mean for Obama’s War on al-Qaeda?“, Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 7 January 2010
  4. War advocacy becomes a self-parody:  “Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels“, New York Times, 7 January 2010 — The article speaks of hidden tunnels, despite the IAEA inspections of all operating atomic facilities in Iran.
  5. More fallacious pro-war propaganda:  “There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran“, Alan J. Kuperman (director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at U of Texas at Austin), op-ed in the New York Times, 23 December 2009 — Pro-war advocates get top billing, always, in America.
  6. Rebuttal to Kuperman:  “Time for wiser voices to pile on: Alan Kuperman’s silly essay on Iran“, Stephen M. Walt, blog of Foreign Policy, 27 December 2009
  7. Rebuttal to Kuperman:  “Mainstreaming the Mad Iran Bombers“, Marc Lynch, blog of Foreign Policy, 24 December 2009
  8. Rebuttal to Kuperman: “Iran and the Goldilocks Principle: Why Kuperman is Completely Wrong and the Leveretts are Only Partly Right and There are no Tunnel Bombs“, Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 7 January 2010

Note:  article #1 is an accurate version.  The article given yesterday was an exaggerated version of this research (“The mini ice age starts here“, Daily Mail, 10 January 2010).

Quote of the Day

The Diary“, Barbara Ehrenreich, Financial Times, 8 January 2010 — I recommend reading the full article. Conclusion:

Just as I’m working up a fresh lather of economic indignation about the grim prospects for the young, the subject changes again. Someone, apparently in Yemen, presses the rewind button and we’re back to 2001, worrying about whether the passenger sitting next to us is carrying explosives in his undies. I’m not that concerned about ending up in a fine spray of body parts, which is at least a quick, clean, sort of death. But I’m terrified at the possibility, being raised in the wake of the pants-on-fire bomber, of having to fly with absolutely nothing on your lap for the first and last hours of a flight, not even the in-flight magazine. If they’re going to take away our reading material, our iPods and iPhones, they might as well sedate us for the length of the trip, like sci-fi space travellers cryogenically preserved to endure the passage of light-years.

Maybe we, in America, feel a little stuck between our wars and our murderous economy, between radical Islam and Goldman Sachs. A year ago we were talking “change” and “hope”, but the hopes have dwindled and the change has turned out to be undetectable to all but the most sophisticated wonks. I see more Spam in our future, at least for those who can afford to eat meat.

Barbara Ehrenreich is an American feminist, democratic socialist, pop sociologist and political activist, a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America. She is a widely read columnist and essayist, and the author of nearly 20 books.  Including Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

2 thoughts on “FM newswire for 12 January, hot articles for your morning reading

  1. From Barbara Ehrenreich article:

    … I tell her that working and going to college full-time is damn near impossible, biologically as well as financially, and that, if she ends up flunking out, it won’t be because she isn’t smart or “focused”. Whatever happens, she should not blame herself, because what she’s attempting is nothing short of heroic.

    My overweight, unemployed girlfreind continually watches “reality” TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” (wikipedia link) on TV, which in my eyes is moralizing sadism masquerading as optimism (starting with the show’s name). The show follows overweight people as they run a harsh course of exercise designed to lose their weight fast. After that, there is a tearful, dramatic finale where the contestants see who lost the most weight & who lost the least and is therefore eliminated from the show.

    Americans hate weight, yet we’re really overweight, and the situation isn’t changing. (“Obesity and Overweight“, Centers for Disease Control, 2005-2006 data) If the “optimistic” view, that we all can lose this horrible weight if we would just get up off our fat asses, is making us unhappy, then why can’t we rethink it?

    Why not just say, “Yes, we’re all fat.” Instead of the next step which is usually to chastize ourselves for our laziness/overindulgence/etc., why not then start to look at fat calmly, or even start to see fat as being a pleasurable thing? Have TV shows about fat people, which portray actual fat people, enjoying eating lasagna?

    And then, start to consider strategies which might actually reduce the average weight of the US public, such as mandating that towns meet certain walkability standards (“Walkscore“, find the walkscore for your area). Or programs of good eating in schools. Whatever would realistically help.

  2. 1. Re: world will cool. Having Raynaud’s disease, I am not looking forward to this.
    2. The charts fail to take into account currency inflation. Biggest surprise was Japan vs S. Africa. I would like to see a chart of housing values vs commodity prices. How many bushels of wheat will an average home buy vs 10 to 20 years ago?
    3. Who cares? I am with Ron Paul on this one. I think we have no business over there in the first place. Live and let live. I think we (US) should live by Richard Maybury’s ( http://chaostan.com/ ) 2 rules: 1. Do all that you set out to do. 2. Never encroach on the property of another.
    4 – 8. I once worked with a fellow American who worked for a year helping to build the Kama river truck plant for the USSR. When he came back he got a debriefing by a CIA guy. The CIA man kept pressing my friend about the existence of tunnels underneath the plant. My friend got so bugged that he finally “Yeah , yeah, there are tunnels.” He actually never saw any. It was merely a case of telling the agent what he wanted to hear. Perhaps the Iranian tunnels are of the same nature – false intel. Kuperman has the smell of Cheney on him.

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