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Aug 30 2013

Punting the Pundits

“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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Hans Blix: Even if Assad Used Chemical Weapons, The West Has No Mandate to Act as a Global Policeman

By ordering air strikes against Syria without UN security council support, Obama will be doing the same as Bush in 2003

It is true that the UN security council is not a reliable global policeman. It may be slow to take action, or paralysed because of disagreement between members. But do we want the US or Nato or “alliances of willing states” as global policemen either? Unlike George Bush in 2003, the Obama administration is not trigger-happy and contemptuous of the United Nations and the rules of its charter, which allow the use of armed force only in self-defence or with an authorisation from the security council. Yet Obama, like Bush and Blair, seems ready to ignore the council and order armed strikes on Syria with political support from only the UK, France and some others.

Such action could not be “in self-defence” or “retaliation”, as the US, the UK and France have not been attacked. To punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons would be the action of self-appointed global policemen – action that, in my view, would be very unwise.

Dan Gillmor: America’s next president had better believe in restoring liberty

Our founders had their flaws, and huge moral blind spots – but on liberty, they were way ahead of their time

Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedules to listen to me. I want you to do more than listen, though; I want you to hear me because nothing I talk about in this campaign is more important than what I’m going to discuss today.

The topic is liberty.

We are losing our liberty. In some cases, it’s being taken away. In others, we are giving it away. If we don’t reverse course, and soon, we will lose it entirely. And if that happens, we will lose our republic.

Liberty is our civic lifeblood. Our founders had their flaws, and huge moral blind spots. But on liberty, as it has come to be understood, they were way ahead of their time. Every American – everyone – should know by heart a quotation from before the American Revolution. It is widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and it goes like this: “Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Paul Rosenberg: Obama is closer to Nixon than to MLK

The US president’s militaristic foreign policy shows how far removed he is from the civil rights leader’s ideas.

Because Barack Obama is the United States’ first black president, there are many who still automatically associate him with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. And with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it’s virtually a knee-jerk reaction to associate his presidency with the fulfillment of King’s dream.

But, as the almost-simultaneous sentencing of Chelsea nee Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison should remind us, a more accurate historical comparison to that time would link Obama to Richard Nixon, rather than King. Nixon, after all, tried to have Daniel Ellsberg jailed for revealing the Pentagon Papers, and Ellsberg himself has said, “I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case.”

Laura Flanders: President Obama, The Price for Using the ’63 Movement is a Peace Conference on Syria

Yesterday, on August 28, fifty years after the historic March on Washington, President Obama participated in celebrations on the Lincoln Memorial steps. At the same time, he’s considering authorizing military action in Syria. I’m sorry Mr. President, but you cannot simultaneously commemorate a nonviolent movement and contemplate military strikes.

The King family charged for use of Dr. King’s words and image on the Memorial so many have visited. If there can be a charge for the use of a man’s words can’t there also be a charge for use of his movement?

What would be a fair price? It can’t be more lofty presidential words. President  Obama has given us volumes of words-on closing Guantanamo, ending torture, and respecting the Constitution, even as he’s expanded the war on terror, and let loose another on Americans’ rights with NSA spying and wiretaps.  There have been no trials for war criminals or war profiteers or banksters, but there have been agonizing trials for whistleblowers, the poor and the weakest amongst us.

Amy Goodman: Just say no to nuclear power – from Fukushima to Vermont

Fukushima showed us the intolerable costs of nuclear power. The citizens of Vermont show us the benefits of shutting it down

Welcome to the nuclear renaissance.

Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear-power producers in the US, issued a surprise press release Tuesday, saying it plans “to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014.” Although the press release came from the corporation, it was years of people’s protests and state legislative action that forced its closure. At the same time that activists celebrate this key defeat of nuclear power, officials in Japan admitted that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are far worse than previously acknowledged.

Sonali Kolhatkar: How the FBI Secretly Denies Muslim Immigrants Their Citizenship

When foreign-born US residents apply for citizenship they painstakingly jump through every legal hoop, fill out endless forms, hand over wads of cash, and nervously await a response from the government for months and sometimes years.

They rightly expect their applications to be processed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. They do not expect to have their citizenship application decided by a law enforcement agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

But, for many Muslim applicants, we now know thanks to the ACLU, that the USCIS secretly consults the FBI to exercise a discretionary authority seemingly designed with Muslims in mind, to indefinitely postpone or deny applications if they deem the applicants “suspicious.”