Oct 11 2014

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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David Sirota: How Big Brother Can Watch You With Metadata

Why did Bradley Cooper and Jessica Alba fail to record a tip when they paid their cabbies during New York City taxi rides back in 2013? Why was Cooper near a Mediterranean restaurant in Greenwich Village? Why was Alba at a ritzy hotel in Soho?

We don’t know the answers, but we do know exactly when and where the movie stars were going, and we also know there’s no record of them forking over any gratuity. What’s worrisome, say privacy experts, is that we know all of this not from some special government sting operation but from publicly available data about millions of people’s movements throughout New York City.

That information, released in an open records request, validates the concerns of those who argue that while consumers’ digital metadata may seem to be anonymous, it actually isn’t. It takes just one or two other pieces of information to turn seemingly anonymous tranches of metadata into specific information about individuals-and not just those who are famous.

Juan Cole: Rather Than Just Honor Nobelist Malala Yousafzai, We Should Listen to Her

Malala Yousafzai has become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history, sharing it this year with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist. [..]

There is always a danger that in honoring a figure like Malala Yousafzai, the world will drown out her more challenging views.  Martin Luther King, Jr. is now mainly lauded for his “I have a Dream” speech but his socialism, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the Vietnam War is little remembered.  Likewise, Lila Abu-Lughod has warned against the use of Ms. Yousafzai by powerful white men as a symbol whereby they can pose as champions of Muslim women against Muslim men- an argument first made powerfully in a another context by Gayatri Spivak.  The real Malala Yousafzai is harder to deploy for those purposes than is Malala the symbol. [..]

Honoring someone with the bravery and resiliency and ethical intelligence of a Malala Yousafzai is easy.  Taking her more challenging positions seriously and engaging with them is much more difficult.

Medea Benjamin: The Fourth Estate in Flames

A war-weary American public that a year ago resoundingly rejected US military intervention in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime now is rallying behind the use of force to destroy the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). In just three months, from June to September, support for US airstrikes in Iraq soared from % percent to 71%, and to 65% for airstrikes in Syria.

How did such an astounding turnabout occur? Certainly it wasn’t due to the persuasive powers of President Obama, who seems to have been reluctantly dragged into a conflict that he once acknowledged has no military solution.

The credit for selling Obama’s war on ISIS must go to the mainstream American media.

Day after day, night after night, the press relied on propaganda from both ISIS and the US government to whip up fear and a thirst for revenge in the American public. Gruesome beheading videos distributed by ISIS were played over and over. The media not only regurgitated official US messages but packaged them better than the government itself ever could.

Arvina Martin: Scott Walker lost his fight for voter ID. He’s still everything that’s wrong with the GOP

My governor’s ‘pro-business’ policies aren’t, he’s facing corruption charges and he tried to keep grandmothers from voting. He cares less about Wisconsin than running for president

When Scott Walker ran for governor of Wisconsin in 2010, he portrayed himself as an affable, thrifty guy, who brought his lunch to work in a brown paper bag just like the people he promised to serve. He promised in his campaign that his pro-business reforms would bring 250,000 jobs to the beleaguered state’s manufacturing base. And he swore he’d be different than all those other politicians who’d come before.

The governor that Walker became in office is decidedly a different character than the average Joe we saw on the campaign trail: a governor whose political aspirations lie far beyond Madison. Governor Walker is facing charges of illegally steering campaign donations and backing terrible environmental legislation from those donors. He couldn’t find it in his heart to reach out to LGBT Wisconsinites and congratulate them on their new right to marry. He’s still backing a voter ID law that would disenfranchise the state’s elderly, minority, and low income voters in the hopes that’ll it’ll keep him in office, even though the US supreme court blocked it in an emergency ruling on Thursday.

And that’s just in the last month.

Alba Morales: Kids Shouldn’t Be at Rikers, Period

New York State’s top corrections official said this week that he supports moving all adolescent inmates off Rikers Island. His statement raises hopes for an end to what the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a scathing recent report, called a “deep-seated culture of violence” against youth in the United States’ second-largest jail, where the vast majority of inmates are adults. [..]

The adult criminal system is not equipped to take children’s needs and traits — and special rights — into account at any stage of the prosecution process. Unlike a juvenile court, the adult system is punitive by design. Once convicted in adult court, children acquire adult criminal records that can haunt them for the rest of their lives. A criminal conviction obtained at age 16 can prevent a person from getting a job decades later, and can make it difficult to obtain housing and student loans. In researching a recent report, I spoke to dozens of kids who had been prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system in Florida. They reported being confused by court proceedings, abused in the adult institutions where they were incarcerated, and plagued by records that branded them criminals for life. “I felt like my life was gone,” one 17-year-old, in adult prison for a crime he committed at 16, told me. I can’t imagine that New York’s children fare any better when put through the adult system.

People younger than 18 cannot vote, drink, or rent a car in any US state. Just this year, New York raised the age at which someone can buy cigarettes to 21. Yet the state continues to treat all 16- and 17-year-olds charged with crimes as if they were adults. Fortunately, there is a growing campaign to raise the age at which a person can be prosecuted as an adult in New York, and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has established a commission in support of that goal. Moving kids off Rikers Island would be an essential step, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that the better approach would be not to treat adolescents as adults in the first place.