“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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Mark Weisbrot: The world has nothing to fear from the US losing power
As China looks set to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy, a multipolar world can only be good for democracy
In the 18th century, those who opposed democratic revolutions like that of the United States had dystopian visions of governance without monarchy. So, too, our foreign policy establishment cannot imagine a multipolar world where the US and its allies must negotiate more and give orders less often. But economic trends are making this reality inevitable, and Americans should embrace it. Whatever the internal political systems of the countries whose representation in the international arena will increase, the end result is likely to be more democratic governance at the international level, with a greater rule of international law, fewer wars, and more social and economic progress.
Trevor Timm: Technology law will soon be reshaped by people who don’t use email
The US supreme court doesn’t understand the internet. Laugh all you want, but when NSA, Pandora and privacy cases hit the docket, the lack of tech savvy on the bench gets scary
There’s been much discussion – and derision – of the US supreme court’s recent forays into cellphones and the internet, but as more and more of these cases bubble up to the high chamber, including surveillance reform, we won’t be laughing for long: the future of technology and privacy law will undoubtedly be written over the next few years by nine individuals who haven’t “really ‘gotten to’ email” and find Facebook and Twitter “a challenge”.
A pair of cases that went before the court this week raise the issue of whether police can search someone’s cellphone after an arrest but without a warrant. The court’s decisions will inevitably affect millions. As the New York Times editorial boardexplained on the eve of the arguments, “There are 12 million arrests in America each year, most for misdemeanors that can be as minor as jaywalking.” Over 90% of Americans have cellphones, and as the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a briefing to the court, our mobile devices “are in effect, our new homes”.
Inner-city poverty and segregation lie behind the US firearms problem. And the National Rifle Association knows how to exploit it
So long as the debate about gun violence limits itself to gun ownership alone it risks being suspended in this morbid circular logic with broad appeal and limited plausibility. Chicago, gun lobbyists point out, has some of the strictest gun legislation in the country. What they don’t say is that between 2008 and 2012 almost one in five guns recovered in crimes within a year of purchase were bought at one gun shop just out of the city limits. Polls consistently show that Americans favour universal background checks for gun sales. Research shows that states with stricter gun controls have fewer gun-related deaths.
So gun control laws are important and have an effect. That’s why the NRA is so viciously opposed to them. Just last week it managed to delay a White House plan to close a loophole allowing people to buy weapons like machine guns, grenades and sawn-off shotguns without undergoing background checks. But by themselves they provide a significant but entirely insufficient frame through which to understand and remedy gun violence. In a nation with rampant inequality, endemic segregation and massive poverty guns are the spark on a huge pile of dry tinder.[
Charles M. Blow: Eye-for-an-Eye Incivility
The botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett has called our continued use of the death penalty in this country back into question. In many ways, the death penalty is an abhorrent attempt to sate an irrational cultural bloodlust, rooted in vengeance and barbarism and detached from data. [..]
Those sentenced to death have often, like Lockett, been convicted of heinous, nearly unspeakable crimes. But is state-sponsored eye-for-an-eye justice truly a mark of a civilized society? How do we not, as a culture, descend to the same depravity of the person who takes a life – or multiple lives – when, as citizens of a state or country, we, in turn, take the murderer’s life? Do our haphazard attempts to rid the world of evil imbue us with it?
Richard (RJ) Eskow: ‘Who Makes the Game?’ Donald Sterling Certainly Asked the Right Question
His racism got all the headlines, but there was something to be learned from Donald Sterling’s other words. So, before the spotlight turns elsewhere and Sterling crawls back into well-deserved obscurity, it’s worth considering his usefulness as a representative sample of the oligarchical class.
We’ll say one thing for Donald Sterling: He certainly asked the right question. [..]
Racism is a powerful ongoing force in our country’s social dynamic, but race is also closely connected with class as a tool for economic warfare. The “plantation” isn’t the only analogy for Sterling’s mindset. His attitude toward the players also resembles that of baronial landlords toward tenant farmers, or mine owners toward miners who were paid in “credits” for the company store. Like plantation owners, the landed aristocracy and the mining bosses saw their employees and tenants as less than fully human. They kept them in a form of peonage, both financial and cultural, while clinging to a worldview which justified their own domination.
Noah Greenwald: How Many More Fiery Rail Explosions Do We Need?
Wednesday’s fiery train derailment in Lynchburg, Va., is yet another disturbing reminder of the dangers of increasing shipments of particularly explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and western Canada.
Shipments of the oil have ramped up dramatically in recent years and a series of derailments, including one in Quebec that killed 47, have raised serious safety concerns.
We’ve got to do something. The best first step is a moratorium on these shipments until we know for sure that people and the environment can be protected.