Photo Courtesy of bigrab/The Ben Lomond Free Press
As a student, he was shy, a bit awkward with girls, and an avid fan of basketball and Michael Jordan.
Today, Kim Jong Un is shy, probably awkward with girls, an avid fan of basketball, and the totalitarian leader of an Orwellian military state known for its bellicose threats and dogged pursuit of nuclear weaponry.
With the world’s youngest head of state finally emerging from the shadow of his late father, foreign policy analysts continue to wonder, who is Kim Jong Un? Initial policies of economic development, including the construction of a half-kilometer long propaganda message, suggest a leader whose ego at least incorporates the employment needs of his citizen base; however, events like the March 11th nullification of the 1953 armistice between North and South Korea seem to reveal a less rational side to the new Supreme Leader, especially … Read the rest
Photo Courtesy of Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images
Afghanistan may be making its first steps toward some semblance of stability in the post-withdrawal world. An uprising against the Taliban has arisen in Panjwai province in the south, long a stronghold for the group.
A key element that allowed these villagers to fight back against the extremists was the increasing presence of government and police officers. The force’s many failures have been well publicized, but this could be a sign that they are succeeding in their most important goal – shifting Afghanis’ allegiance away from the Taliban to the government in Kabul. Despite the training failures, this uprising could be a turning point in the progression of Afghan self-governance.
Of course, this all hinges on how supportive the central government is of the regional forces. At the moment, president Hamid Karzai has been distracted by his efforts to speed up American troop withdrawals, … Read the rest
Most people (and almost all scientists) believe that climate change is happening, is caused by humans and is potentially disastrous. Despite this, fossil fuel companies have consistently foiled efforts for comprehensive reform. Frustrated environmentalists, trying to hit these deniers where it hurts, have now launched a new campaign – Divestment. Students on hundreds of campuses across the country, including here at Penn, are standing up to demand that the administration stop investing in the corporations that are bankrupting our future.
This article, by the founder of 350.org Bill McKibben, outlines the history of the movement, its potential impact and, most importantly, why divestment could save the world.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment-20130222… Read the rest
Courtesy of http://www.guardian.co.uk
One of Penn’s own – political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. – has published a lengthy and impassioned criticism of the “cultural politics” that he claims inspired Django Unchained and The Help. It’s an intriguing piece – part-critique of, part-eulogy for progressivism, caged in an essay about television and movies. But I do think Reed misses a lot about Django Unchained.
Reed calls Django Unchained a “neoliberal film.” And, by neoliberal, he means “capitalism without the gloves off.” Essentially, Reed – and I know this from other op-eds and because he spoke to my class last semester – is one of at least a few academics, at Penn and other colleges, who believe that the Milton Friedmans – the lovers of small government and deregulated markets – have won, and their philosophy of neoliberalism has become the dominant ideology for both Democrats and Republicans.… Read the rest
If you’re into minor political scandals (and why wouldn’t you be?), you have no doubt heard of the Bob Woodward-Gene Sperling skirmish. What you may not know is that the clash has resulted in the retelling of an entertaining anectode about Sperling’s time as a Wharton grad student.
First, the back story: Woodward, a renowned investigative political journalist (the same Woodward who broke the Nixon Watergate scandal), has accused Gene Sperling, an Obama economic advisor, of attempting to intimidate him out of taking the angle that the sequester originated with the administration. Sperling, in an email to Woodward, wrote, “I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
You can decide for yourself whether or not Sperling’s words constitute a threat. But one thing’s certain: Sperling has engaged in this behavior before. According to alum and The Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg, when Sperling was a columnist and Goldberg an … Read the rest
Courtesy of glennw on historytech.wordpress.com
In 1904, president Theodore Roosevelt was re-elected as a popular champion of progressive values, with a long agenda of reforms that would be opposed every step of the way by moneyed interests.
It should. T.R. provides an important historical comparison for Barack Obama’s second term. Despite their many similarities, however, Obama has yet to demonstrate the characteristic that, more than anything, won Teddy his spot on Mt. Rushmore: obdurate and energetic political drive.
Obama needs to find his inner Roosevelt in his relations with Congress, using his predecessor’s example of vigorous political pressure and populist appeals. This approach delivered important bills in the early 20th century such as the Pure Food and Drug Act, the Meat Inspection Act and a series of trust-busting measures, all passed in the face of fierce conservative opposition reminiscent of today’s Congress.
Regardless of his electoral mandate, Republicans … Read the rest
Image Courtesy of M.Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/Flickr
Pope Benedict XVI is retiring.
Wow. I didn’t know Popes were allowed to do that.
Known for his tenacious defense of church doctrine and awkward handling of sex scandals, Benedict has been the Supreme Pontiff for 8 years. He has been a contentious figure for his opposition to abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage, and admired for his outreach to other faiths. His retirement has elicited statements of sadness and respect as well as some statements closer to “good riddance.”
With the Church struggling to keep up with modernization and globalization trends, the Cardinals’ choice for his successor will be a watershed moment in the modern history of Catholicism. Seismic change could be coming.
Although it seems unlikely that the next pope will break with Benedict and his predecessor Pope John Paul II’s conservative philosophy, a geographic break could be in the offering instead. Uncertainty and … Read the rest
Photo Courtesy of Eric Lafforgue (www.ericlafforgue.com)
North Korea has moved from threats and poorly made propaganda videos to actions that are significantly more sinister.
North Korea confirmed early Tuesday that they had conducted their third nuclear test. According to the New York Times, the office of the director of national intelligence issued a statement suggested that the explosion yield was approximately several kilotons. It is unclear how the explosion measured up to their 2009 nuclear test, which had an estimated yield of two to six kilotons (in contrast, the US bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was 15 kilotons). The test was widely condemned by international actors, including the US and the United Nations.
What is clear is that North Korea is advancing in its ability to make nuclear weapons, even if their specific capabilities are still ambiguous. Whether the bomb was made of plutonium or enriched uranium … Read the rest
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“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
- Inscription from the James Farley Post Office in New York City
For many, the U.S. Postal Service represents one of the last few reliable features of government. Just as April 15th is bound to sneak up on us each year, our mail is just as likely to be found waiting for us in the mailbox at its usual time Monday through Saturday. Born out of Ben Franklin’s vision of a national postal service, the steadfast men and women of the USPS, no matter how treacherous the conditions, have consistently and carefully handled and delivered mail to the millions of households all across America six days a week, every week of the year, year in, year out.
Unfortunately, that is all about to change. … Read the rest