Jul 21st, 2008 by ravi
Seed: Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers

Seed: Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers

Robert Trivers: So you’re talking about self-deception in at least two contexts. One is intellectuals who, in a sense, go through a process of education which results in a self-deceived organism who is really working to serve the interests of the privileged few without necessarily being conscious of it at all.
The other thing is these massive industries of persuasion and deception, which, one can conceptualize, are also inducing a form of either ignorance or self-deception in listeners, where they come to believe that they know the truth when in fact they’re just being manipulated.

Click link for video and full conversation.

[ Link ]

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May 18th, 2008 by ravi
India shining

In “Propaganda and the Public Mind” (David Barsamian, Noam Chomsky), Noam Chomsky is asked “Can you think of any positive examples of humanitarian intervention?” and offers this answer:

When you look at the historical record honestly, it’s extremely hard to find any examples of use of military force undertaken for genuine humanitarian aims. […]

In the post-Second World War period, there were a few cases, two that I know of, that are genuine: the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, which got rid of Pol Pot, and the Indian invasion of hat is now Bangladesh, which stopped a huge atrocity.

(Note: Chomsky does point out that “they were not undertaken with humanitarian intent”).

Today, India is an enabler of the repressive junta in power in Burma and is guilty of doing the least in the relief effort. Another example of India Shining.

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Feb 12th, 2008 by ravi
The history of the US in Iran

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Jan 25th, 2008 by ravi
Shopping spree!

That (the subject of this post) is the New York Times’ characterisation of desperate Palestinians, under a new burst of Israeli terrorism, attempting to obtain basics from Egypt:

Palestinians used a bulldozer to knock down another portion of the wall, originally built by Israel just inside Gaza, to continue their shopping spree.

At this point, I think we can safely take all the Holocaust literature and replace Jews with Palestinians, to obtain the narrative, of future historians and generations, wondering what went wrong… how did we permit such horror?

[ Link ]

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Aug 28th, 2007 by ravi
Globalisation and specialisation

PBS’s [wide angle] covered the Indian farmer suicide issue in their episode today. The good news is that all that sad news and sorrow is alleviated towards the end by the wisdom of Jagdish Bhagwati, globalisation’s brown knight, who offered such gems as:

India specialises in poverty

The link to the interview transcript (PDF) is currently broken, but let that not prevent you from enjoying Bhagwati elsewhere.

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Mar 2nd, 2007 by ravi
Saving the children

Without any hint of irony, Daniel Mendelsohn writes an Op-Ed in the NYT about the recent discovery of letters from Otto Frank:

A Family History Like Too Many Others – New York Times

Above all, such letters demonstrate movingly the overriding preoccupation that nothing was as important as saving the children. “It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for,” Otto Frank wrote. “If only the world were open and I’d been able to send a child to America or Palestine, it would be easier,” my great-uncle mourned as he started losing hope.


[T]he fact that this latest and unexpected addition to the Frank file was casually found in a relatively neglected American archive reminds us, too, that there are many thousands of similar stories on this side of the Atlantic still waiting to surface, if only we bothered — or knew — to look for them[.]

We would not need to look much farther than the very Palestine that remains closed today, to its own inhabitants.

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Jan 25th, 2007 by ravi
Hagelian synthesis

Crooks and Liars has video of Chuck Hagel (R-NE) laying it out to the Senate on Iraq and the [non-binding] Hagel, Biden, Snowe, Levin resolution against escalation. I guess it takes a Republican to say the things he does, such as point out that the reputation of the U.S is shot in the Middle East. Here is a rough transcript (by me) of a part that I found particularly surprising:

When people have no hope, when there is despair, little else matters. And this is not about terrorists don’t like freedom. Tell that to the Palestinian people who have been chained down for many, many years.

Will someone notify Dershowitz, please?

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Jan 16th, 2007 by ravi
More wonders of tort “reform”

Adam Cohen gives examples in the New York Times on why the justice system indeed does require some reform, but not in the direction demanded by the vociferous right-wing, but in better protecting and compensating individuals and their rights. Cohen starts out with the case of Jack Cline who developed leukaemia from exposure to benzene at his job in Alabama. Here’s what the Alabama Supreme Court had to say:

They Say We Have Too Many Lawsuits? Tell It to Jack Cline – NYT

In a ruling that would have done Kafka proud, the court held that there was never a valid time for Mr. Cline to sue. If he had sued when he was exposed to the benzene, it would have been too early. Alabama law requires people exposed to dangerous chemicals to wait until a “manifest” injury develops. But when his leukemia developed years later, it was too late. Alabama’s statute of limitations requires that suits be brought within two years of exposure.

Cohen goes on to ridicule the sceptre of frivolous lawsuits to identify the real damage inflicted on the justice system:

At the top of industry’s list of tactics is immunity — the rather brazen notion that companies should be shielded from lawsuits no matter how negligently or dishonestly they act. […]

Industries are also winning immunity at the state level, and attracting far less attention. Pharmaceutical companies pushed through a law in Michigan protecting them when their drugs injure or kill people, as long as the drugs were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. There is no reason F.D.A. approval, a deeply flawed process, should be a shield.

When corporations do end up in court, they have lowered the stakes substantially by undermining punitive damages, which have long been one of the main ways that society deters people from unreasonably putting others at risk. The United States Supreme Court struck a major blow against punitive damages a decade ago, ruling that it was unconstitutional for a jury to award $2 million in punitive damages against an auto dealer that knowingly sold a damaged, repainted BMW as new.

Lower federal court judges, many of whom have been screened by the Bush administration for pro-business sympathies, and state court judges, many of whose campaigns were bankrolled by big business, are eagerly joining in. So are state legislatures. Last month Ohio’s legislature voted to cap punitive damages in many cases against paint companies — which have been accused of selling lead-based paint that causes retardation in children — at a paltry $5,000.


[ Link ]

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Dec 25th, 2006 by ravi
Minimum wage bogeyman

EPI has released a study that sheds some light on the right’s “worry” that minimum wage hikes would have an overall negative impact due to reduced hiring and so on. EPI looked at the data for the states that raised the minimum wage on their own, given the federal government’s reluctance to do so, and here is what they found (summarised here, follow link for the detailed analysis):

State minimum wages: A policy that works

Have these state actions had any effect? Are wages higher than they would have otherwise been, i.e., are these higher minimums reaching their intended beneficiaries? Is employment worse than it would have otherwise been? The evidence presented here suggests that the answers are, respectively, yes, yes, and no.

[ Link ]

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Dec 7th, 2006 by ravi
BBC | US Mexicans haunted by repatriation

I have heard and read about the Japanese internment during WW2, but this I had not previously known:

BBC | US Mexicans haunted by repatriation


As the depression deepened, state and local governments passed laws restricting employment to native-born or naturalised citizens.

The Federal Government required all firms supplying it with goods and services to hire only US citizens.

And private companies fell in line with the prevailing anti-Mexican feeling and sacked their workers.

Francisco Balderrama, professor at California State University and co-author of Decade of Betrayal, estimates that somewhere in the region of a million people of Mexican origin were driven out of the United States during the 1930s.

Nearly two thirds of those who left were US citizens.


Around 50,000 people were formally deported in the 1930s.


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has refused to approve Senate bills that would require schools to include the repatriation in the curriculum, and to offer victims compensation.

Time to start deporting Austrians? ;-)

[ Link ]

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