Friday, March 15, 2013

What Will the World Say?

Last night I was watching RT television, the Russian station for English speakers. I saw a story that shocked and amazed me.

We haven't closed Guantanamo Bay. I knew that. I knew that the President had signed an executive order, but Congress refused to expend funds to transfer prisoners. I knew that there was a high security prison sitting empty that could receive any dangerous prisoners, but paranoid conservatism has used the boogie man of terrorists as a way of stopping progress.

Here's what I didn't know:

Half the prisoners at Gitmo have been cleared for release, but for some reason have not been released.

The prisoners at Gitmo have been at that prison for eleven years many without charges.

Amy Goodman's column in the Guardian details the potential stain to the Obama Presidency represented by the deterioration of conditions at Gitmo. What Goodman doesn't mention is that there have been suicides related to this indefinite detention. What Goodman doesn't mention is how this is playing in the world press.

RT did a story on it. Aljazeera has a story on Gitmo's shame. Interpress. Foreign Policy. World wide stories about the problems and the administration's denial that we are detaining indefinitely, when, in fact we are. The 89 who should be released and haven't been - what is that about?

What will it take before we stop this? Will the hunger strikers have to die, or will we strap them to hospital gurneys and shove hoses up their noses and force feed them, as we are doing with Tariq Ba Odah. Daily we tie him down and force feed him, and we've been doing this for six years. If shamed before the world will we close the camp or will we, as we have on so many other things, noisily and angrily deny that there is any problem?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Need a New Newspaper?

LNR's Facebook Presence
Lindsborg News Record is circling the bowl.

Years of poor reportage, ignoring both interesting and important stories in favor of running press releases - policies that aren't explained to readers and advertizers, nor enforced evenly (the big one is "Buy an ad get coverage of your event") - and a generally aging readership of American newspapers mean that the Lindsborg News Record has a limited future in the best of circumstances. With the current owner alienating readership, the demise is being hastened.

The problem for Lindsborg is that it has no other news outlet.

I don't have the capital, but replacing the LNR with a mildly progressive and genuinely multi-media news outlet for Lindsborg could be a retirement project for me, just as Hemslojd was for Ken Sjogren. I'd envision it as primarily a web based product - with video, and maybe web radio connected.

How would we pay for it? Who would report? Who'd advertise and how would we establish rates?

I don't know. I just know that Lindsborg News Record is circling the bowl and the town needs something else in place before the vortex sends our poor little paper to the treatment plant.

Why China is Going to Lead

China on Ice, photo by Jonathan Isaacson
Despite American xenophobic insistence that we are the greatest nation in the world, we are about to be overrun by China in great nation status. Not just over taken, but overrun.
It isn’t the conservative meme of China owning American debt that will mean that China will own our lunch. The Chinese ownership of our debt at the low interest rate is actually a good thing. China will need us and our money for a long time to come, and the debt is at such a low interest rate that it is like refinancing a home – it makes sense to own money at 2% if you can make money at 6%.
No, what will allow the Chinese to overrun us is their willingness to do what needs to be done, and their strategic relationships with nations we are either treating as victims – or as enemies.
China is developing Maglev trains. Super fast public transportation is starting to be a norm in China, while in America we can’t even talk about public transportation as part of the solution to urban crowding, dependence upon foreign oil, and long distance travel. China has terrible environmental standards – but they are working on them. We’re not even willing to admit there is a problem.
China treats African nations as potential trading partners, worthy of their own news programs, worthy of attention as both consumers and producers. We treat the whole of Africa as a problem. North Africa is full of Muslim terrorists and sub-Saharan Africa is poverty who should get our free tee-shirts dumped on them for their own good. Pakistanis are now learning Mandarin as part of their elementary and secondary school program. The Pakistani middle class is preparing to go to University in China. They see China as a friend. We look at Pakistan as harborer of terrorists and Muslim radicals.
For all these reasons and so many more the second largest world economy will surpass us. Probably soon. And the young adults who I teach won’t even notice until Chinese owners show up in the boxes at NBA games.