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Archive for August, 2012

The Napoleonic Experience

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Napoleon created a new form of government in France, reshaped the boundaries of Europe, and influenced revolutionaries and nationalists the world over. Since his first days in power he aroused controversies that continue today. Was he a true son of the Enlightenment who modernized French government and brought the message of equality under the law wherever he went? Or was he an authoritarian military dictator who fought incessant wars and conquered territory in order to maintain his egomaniacal grip on power? There is abundant evidence for both views. The evidence is presented here under three main headings: domestic policies; foreign policies and wars; and his legacy.

The Napoleonic Experience and Response Questions

French Absolutism in the Ancien Regime

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Germany Permits Itself to Celebrate Prussian King

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The official delegation honoring Frederick the Great’s 300th birthday had just finished laying a laurel wreath and a grand cross of white flowers at his grave here on Tuesday when a 70-year-old retiree quietly slipped in behind them and placed a small potato on the gray slab of stone that marks the monarch’s resting place.

Read this piece from the NY Times on the Fredrick Celebration and respond to these questions

Photoessay: A Radically Prosaic Approach to Civil Rights Images

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

But most of the images are optimistic and affirmative, like the portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thornton. They focus on the family’s everyday activities, and their resolve to get on with their lives as normally as possible, in spite of an environment that restricts and intimidates: Mrs. Thornton cradling her newborn great-grandchild (below); her son, now a father himself, on a stroll with his children; a couple filling out tax returns; a Sunday church service (Slide 7); boys fishing in a creek; a woman and her granddaughter window shopping (Slide 2); teenagers hanging out in front of a country store; and mourners at a funeral (Slide 12).

These quiet, compelling photographs elicit a reaction that Mr. Parks believed was critical to the undoing of racial prejudice: empathy.

Not A Feminist? Why Not?

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Writer Caitlin Moran believes most women who don’t want to be called feminists don’t really understand what feminism is. In her book How to Be a Woman, Moran poses these questions to women who are hesitant to identify as feminists:

What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?

In a conversation with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, Moran talks about how women are pressured into Brazilian waxing and how humor is the sharpest weapon she has a writer.

Video: Women, War & Peace, War Redefined

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

The capstone of Women, War & Peace, War Redefined challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain through incisive interviews with leading thinkers, Secretaries of State and seasoned survivors of war and peace-making. Their experiences reveal how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualty rates. Simultaneously, they describe how women are emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.

War Redefined reframes our understanding of modern warfare through probing conversations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International; globalization expert Moisés Naím; and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University, among others. Narrated by Geena Davis.

The New New Deal

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Michael Grunwald, a Time magazine correspondent, this week publishes The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, a gripping account of President Obama’s stimulus bill. Grunwald writes that the stimulus has transformed America—and American politics—in ways that we have failed to recognize.

Read an interview with Grunwald

Nationalize Facebook

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

If neither users nor investors can be confident in the company, it’s time we start discussing an idea that might seem crazy: nationalizing Facebook.

By “nationalizing Facebook,” I mean public ownership and at least a majority share at first. When nationalizing the company restores the public trust, that controlling interest could be reduced. There are three very good reasons for this drastic step: It could fix the company’s woeful privacy practices, allow the social network to fulfill its true potential for providing social good, and force it to put its valuable data to work on significant social problems.

Interesting argument from Phillip Howard at Slate

Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Amidst all the cries of Barack Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch is reporting that our president has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

 

So, how have the Republicans managed to persuade Americans to buy into the whole “Obama as big spender” narrative?

It might have something to do with the first year of the Obama presidency where the federal budget increased a whopping 17.9% —going from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. I’ll bet you think that this is the result of the Obama sponsored stimulus plan that is so frequently vilified by the conservatives…but you would be wrong.

The first year of any incoming president term is saddled—for better or for worse—with the budget set by the president whom immediately precedes the new occupant of the White House. Indeed, not only was the 2009 budget the property of George W. Bush—and passed by the 2008 Congress—it was in effect four months before Barack Obama took the oath of office.

Accordingly, the first budget that can be blamed on our current president began in 2010 with the budgets running through and including including fiscal year 2013 standing as charges on the Obama account, even if a President Willard M. Romney takes over the office on January 20, 2013.

So, how do the actual Obama annual budgets look?

Courtesy of Marketwatch

  • In fiscal 2010 (the first Obama budget) spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
  •  In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
  • In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
  • Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.

No doubt, many will wish to give the credit to the efforts of the GOP controlled House of Representatives. That’s fine if that’s what works for you.

However, you don’t get to have it both ways.

Yo Soy 132

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Yo Soy 132 is an ongoing Mexican protest movement centered around the democratization of the country and its media. It began as opposition to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexican media’s allegedly biased coverage of the 2012 general election.The name Yo Soy 132, Spanish for “I Am 132”, originated in an expression of solidarity with the protest’s initiators.

The phrase draws inspiration from the Occupy movement and the Spanish 15-M movement.

On May 23, 2012, the movement released its manifesto. An excerpt from it states:

First – we are a nonpartisan movement of citizens. As such, we do not express support of any candidate or political party, but rather respect the plurality and diversity of this movement’s participants. Our wishes and demands are centered on the defense of Mexicans’ freedom of expression and their right for information, in that these two elements are essential to forming an aware and participating citizenry. For the same reasons, we support informed and well-thought out voting. We believe that under the present political circumstances, abstaining or making a null vote is ineffective in promoting the edification of our democracy. We are a movement committed to the country’s democratization, and as such, we hold that a necessary condition for this goal is the democratization of the media. This commitment derives from the current state of the national press, and from the concentration of the media outlets in few hands.

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