“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Gary Younge: Open season on black boys after a verdict like this
Calls for calm after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin are empty words for black families
Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn’t like the look of him.
The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year was tragic. But in the age of Obama the acquittal of George Zimmerman offers at least that clarity. For the salient facts in this case were not in dispute. On 26 February 2012 Martin was on his way home, minding his own business armed only with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman pursued him, armed with a 9mm handgun, believing him to be a criminal. Martin resisted. They fought. Zimmerman shot him dead.
Who screamed. Who was stronger. Who called whom what and when and why are all details to warm the heart of a cable news producer with 24 hours to fill. Strip them all away and the truth remains that Martin’s heart would still be beating if Zimmerman had not chased him down and shot him.
Paul Krugman: Hunger Games, U.S.A.
Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.
The occasion for these observations is, as you may have guessed, the monstrous farm bill the House passed last week. [..]
So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies – at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed – while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.
n the war against inequality, we’ve become so used to bad news that we’re almost taken aback when something positive happens. And with the Supreme Court having affirmed that wealthy people and corporations have a constitutional right to buy American elections, who would have expected it to bring good news? But a decision in the term that just ended gave ordinary Americans something that is more precious than money alone – the right to live.
At first glance, the case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, might seem like scientific arcana: the court ruled, unanimously, that human genes cannot be patented, though synthetic DNA, created in the laboratory, can be. But the real stakes were much higher, and the issues much more fundamental, than is commonly understood. The case was a battle between those who would privatize good health, making it a privilege to be enjoyed in proportion to wealth, and those who see it as a right for all – and a central component of a fair society and well-functioning economy. Even more deeply, it was about the way inequality is shaping our politics, legal institutions and the health of our population.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: It’s College Students vs. the Corporate Machine — and the Machine’s Winning
Once this nation saw higher education as a citadel of learning, growth and opportunity. Now student debt is being used as a cash cow to subsidize corporate tax breaks, while universities become incubators for corporate employees and cheap laboratories for private-sector patents.
The new student loan deal being cooked up in Washington is part of a larger picture. The forces of technology, globalization and wealth are calling the shots in government nowadays, and they’ve got higher education in their sights. Corporations want colleges and universities to serve them, not students.
In the dystopian future unfolding before our eyes, whole segments of the population are being offered up to the Corporate Machine. And unless we reject the corporate commodification of our common humanity, there’s no end in sight.
Monte Frank: The Holocaust taken in vain to promote gun rights
The cynicism of the pro-gun lobby – with its Nazi comparisons for those who advocate controls – knows no bounds of decency
Never again. Since the end of the second world war, Jews the world over have pledged that the Holocaust can never happen again.
The guns rights lobby has perverted this pledge for their own use – to advocate against stricter gun safety laws. The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has argued that firearm registration in Germany in 1938 helped lead to the Holocaust. Charlton Heston rallied NRA members by connecting gun rights with the Holocaust by declaiming “first comes registration and then confiscation”. At the NRA convention this past May, conservative media personality Glenn Beck likened New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to a Nazi. And just in the last couple of weeks, former cop and pro-gun pundit Frank Borelli, speaking on NRA News, applauded sheriffs in Maryland who refused to enforce that state’s recently adopted gun safety laws by distinguishing them from Nazi guards who followed orders in the death camps.
César Chelala: It is Criminal to Execute the Mentally Disabled
The planned execution on July 15 of Georgia prisoner Warren Hill-who has been diagnosed as ‘mentally disabled’-is a gross violation of U.S. federal laws and specifically of the 8th amendment that reads, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.’ The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that criminal sentences that are inhumane, outrageous, or shocking to the social conscience are cruel and unusual.
This is based on a 2002 Supreme Court ruling-Atkins v. Virginia-that outlawed the death penalty for prisoners considered mentally disabled. That ruling had left a small gap according to which death penalty states were left to define the legal standard under which ‘mental retardation’ also known as ‘intellectual disability’ is defined.