Besides the debt ceiling crisis there really hasn't been too much political news. Of course there was the Oslo tragedy this week, but things have seemed relatively calm to me. Here are a few things I've come across that are worth reading though.
1. Thought the Global Gag Rule Was History? Think Again:
The Republicans have been awfully busy in their domestic war on women lately, but they’ve still found time to relaunch its global front. Yesterday a House committee voted to reinstate the Global Gag Rule. The rule, overturned by Obama during his first week in office, prohibited global NGO’s from receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding if they provided, promoted or even mentioned abortion-related services. In the 27 years since it was first introduced, it is estimated to have caused thousands of deaths by increasing the rate of illegal abortions.2. Barbarous Confinement:
More than 1,700 prisoners in California, many of whom are in maximum isolation units, have gone on a hunger strike. The protest began with inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. How they have managed to communicate with each other is anyone’s guess — but their protest is everyone’s concern. Many of these prisoners have been sent to virtually total isolation and enforced idleness for no crime, not even for alleged infractions of prison regulations. Their isolation, which can last for decades, is often not explicitly disciplinary, and therefore not subject to court oversight. Their treatment is simply a matter of administrative convenience...3. Harry Potter - The End:
Hunger strikes are the only weapon these prisoners have left. Legal avenues are closed. Communication with the outside world, even with family members, is so restricted as to be meaningless. Possessions — paper and pencil, reading matter, photos of family members, even hand-drawn pictures — are removed. (They could contain coded messages between gang members, we are told, or their loss may persuade the inmates to snitch when every other deprivation has failed.)
The poverty of our criminological theorizing is reflected in the official response to the hunger strike. Now refusing to eat is regarded as a threat, too. Authorities are considering force-feeding. It is likely it will be carried out — as it has been, and possibly still continues to be — at Guantánamo (in possible violation of international law) and in an evil caricature of medical care.
Joanne Rowling's fictional universe of wizards, goblins and magical quests transfigured the imaginative landscape of those of us who were the right sort of age, between 1997 and 2011, to appreciate the cacophonous excitement that followed the emergence of every book and film in the series. I was given one of the very first copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, an edition that would be worth a fortune now had it not been read and reread until the covers fell off. I sat up all night to finish it, and when morning came, I woke up in tears: young wizards are chosen on their 11th birthdays, meaning that I had not been chosen, and was destined for a life of muggle drudgery...4. Why the Democratic Party Has Abandoned the Middle Class in Favor of the Rich:
Harry Potter is not just a corporate racket, or a cheesy public-school fantasy in clunky prose. It's also about decency, and fairness, and courage. That's why young anti-cuts protesters carried placards declaring themselves members of 'Dumbledore's Army'. This particular fairy tale is coming to an end just as young people are learning that sometimes good does not automatically triumph. Sometimes the stupidest, meanest adults wind up in charge, and they can't be defeated simply by going on a quest to destroy Horcruxes, or finding an unbeatable wand.
The best fairy tales are also the cruellest, because you have to close the book and return to reality.
It doesn't take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they've enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich. And if you're not rich yourself, this is a problem. First and foremost, it's an economic problem because it's siphoned vast sums of money from the pockets of most Americans into those of the ultrawealthy. At the same time, relentless concentration of wealth and power among the rich is deeply corrosive in a democracy, and this makes it a profoundly political problem as well.5. Larry Flynt: Freedom fighter, pornographer, monster?
Larry Flynt has won. He was America's pioneer pornographer – the man who fought against a still-Puritan nation all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to get vaginal close-ups into the grasp of every young man. This fight got him jailed. It got him shot. It got him rich. And at the end of it, the grandchildren of the people who demanded his arrest for launching Hustler magazine think nothing of clicking on XTube to view a million women splayed a million ways, or uploading their own sex tapes onto the site for everyone to see. He is the founding father of our new pornucopia. His brand of hardcore porn is everywhere, leaking into every email inbox. For him, it's a story of freedom triumphant. But does Flynt's story also show the costs – and the casualties – of the Dionysian frenzy he has helped unleash?One of the most interesting interviews I've ever read.
6. David Wu won't resign; Nancy Pelosi seeks probe:
Embattled Rep. David Wu will not seek reelection in 2012, but he won’t resign from office now despite allegations that the Oregon Democrat had an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a close friend last Thanksgiving.Videos:
“He isn’t going to be running for reelection,” a Wu adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told POLITICO late Sunday night. “But he hasn’t done anything that rises to the level of requiring him to resign.”
Colbert On Voter ID Laws:
Closer by Kings of Leon:
Cenk Leaves MSNBC:
Is the CIA running secret prisons in Somalia:
Scahill really shines when Buchanan attempts to minimize his reporting.
“I, personally, have a cunt. Sometimes it’s ‘flaps’ or ‘twat’, but, most of the time, it’s my cunt. Cunt is a proper, old, historic, strong word. I like that my fire escape also doubles up as the most potent swearword in the English language. Yeah. That’s how powerful it is, guys. If I tell you what I’ve got down there, old ladies and clerics might faint. I like how shocked people are when you say ‘cunt’. It’s like I have a nuclear bomb in my pants, or a mad tiger, or a gun.” —Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman