Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Inquiring minds want to know

Feminist Law Professors asks the question, "What is women's clothing?"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Then and now: the failures of US imperialism

Historian Alfred McCoy has written a fascinating comparison of the situation in Vietnam in 1963 and the situation in Afghanistan today, with additional information about US support for dictators in Iran, Cuba, and Nicaragua. I found it courtesy of t r u t h o u t. I'm quoting McCoy's conclusion below.
In this new landscape of sovereign states that emerged after World War II, Washington has had to pursue a contradictory policy as it dealt with the leaders of nominally independent nations that were also deeply dependent on foreign economic and military aid. After identifying its own prestige with these fragile regimes, Washington usually tries to coax, chide, or threaten its allies into embracing what it considers needed reforms. Even when this counsel fails and prudence might dictate the start of a staged withdrawal, as in Saigon in 1963 and Kabul today, American envoys simply cannot let go of their unrepentant, resentful allies, as the long slide into disaster gains momentum.

With few choices between diplomatic niceties and a destabilizing coup, Washington invariably ends up defaulting to an inflexible foreign policy at the edge of paralysis that often ends with the collapse of our authoritarian allies, whether Diem in Saigon, the Shah in Tehran, or on some dismal day yet to come, Hamid Karzai in Kabul. To avoid this impending debacle, our only realistic option in Afghanistan today may well be the one we wish we had taken in Saigon back in August 1963 -- a staged withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Federal district judge overturns gene patents

Usually the news I hear on the radio causes me to grumble and even to swear, but the other morning I heard a news item that caused me to cheer out loud and startle my cat.

On March 29, federal Judge Robert Sweet of the Southern District of New York invalidated a patent held by Myriad Genetics on two genes related to breast and ovarian cancer. If this ruling survives the inevitable court challenges, it could undermine the whole idea of patenting human genes. Incurable optimist that I am, I can even hope that it could undermine the patenting of living organisms as well.