Former London mayor Ken Livingstone appears on Iranian state television to blame America for the Boston bombing. Our friend Tom Doran jokes that Livingstone seems to be running for mayor of Karachi as his next job.
Very often, people get incredibly angry about injustices that they see. They would have been reading about the torture at Guantanamo Bay, at Baghram airbase. They would have read stuff about how, I think it is 54 different countries secretly collaborated with America for this rendition — people being snatched off streets taken to be tortured, because the Bush regime believed that they were all potential terrorists.
There was such ignorance in the Bush White House about Islam and about the history of so many disputes that exist in the Middle East. People get angry — they lash out. It’s the whole squalid intervention that has disfigured the record of the Western democracies. I think this fuels the anger of the young men, who — as we saw in Boston — went out, and, out of anger and demand for revenge, claimed lives in the West.”
Free trade comes at last to the salami industry, reports the New York Times:
The United States Department of Agriculture will relax a decades-long ban on the importation of many Italian cured-pork meat products from some regions of Italy starting May 28, including sought-after staples such as salami.
On Friday, the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services announced that an in-country assessment had determined that four regions and two provinces of Italy are free of swine vesicular disease, a dangerous communicable ailment that infects pigs, and that “the importation of pork or pork products from these areas presents a low risk.”
At Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins writes a very moving essay on why he's coming out as the first openly gay active player in the NBA.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
At The Week, Jeb Golinkin cheers Collins' decision:
Jason Collins is going to have a tough time. But it is for that exact reason that Jason Collins' decision to come out while he is still playing in the league — and I cannot underscore how important the "still playing" part of that statement is — will prove more important for all of us than we can possibly imagine. All of the players who have played with Jason Collins, and there are a lot, now have a friend that, it turns out, has been gay all along. That revelation alone is often enough to make one re-evaluate one's feelings about homosexuality. And then there is the fact that his teammates have been showering with this gay guy, and he didn't hit on them in the showers!
A healthy global economic system requires a hyperpower to keep the peace, and Democrats (prodded by Silicon Valley) are coming back into the game. Walter Russell Mead:
Silicon Valley is a major donor to Democrats, and it seems to be moving toward an understanding of the importance of a strong and outward looking America. Historically, cutting edge corporations have supported the rise of American power partly as a way of assuring that U.S. foreign policy and power would support their corporate agendas and help them get fair treatment in a world where foreign corporations enjoyed clear backing from their governments. It’s beginning to look as if Silicon Valley is heading down this well-trodden trail. This suggests a revival of a strong national defense and national greatness lobby in the Democratic Party, especially if we reflect on the degree to which defense spending in the future is likely to intersect with the kinds of products Silicon Valley makes.
If the GOP's far right continues to beat the retreat from the world stage (favoring tax cuts over protecting defense spending, for instance), Democrats will have to assume this role. A powerful United States navy means global shipping lanes will be clear and peaceful, a strong U.S. Army helps ensure stability for our allies in Asia, and a United States that cares about preventing human rights abuses will save innumerable lives in chaotic Africa and Southwest Asia. Those priorities are worth defending, and if the Tea Party won't do it, somebody else must.
I linked yesterday to the sad story of a depressive, bipolar Oregon woman who - despite 13 voluntary hospitalizations in 12 months - was nonetheless able to pass the background check, buy a gun, and end her life.
But here's more ominous news. It turns out that even the involuntarily committed find it easy to buy weapons under existing background checks. University of Michigan graduate student Adrianna McIntyre ( @onceuponA)
points out in a blog for Project Millennial that only 12 states fully comply with the rules requiring them to forward to federal authorities the names of the involuntarily committed. The other 38 barely provide any names at all - meaning that their dangerous mentally ill, if and when released, can buy firearms easily.
Frum-Shrum is back! This week, David and Bob are all 2016. If Hilary indeed runs for president, how will she frame the Obama legacy? What will her 'big ideas' be?
And on the Republican side, will ideological purity beat electability in the primaries? How can the GOP overcome their shrinking electorate and see beyond the insulated conservative bubble?
My CNN column focuses on a major domestic policy achievement by George W. Bush: combating homelessness.
Have you noticed that homelessness isn't worse? Here we are, living through the most protracted joblessness crisis since the Great Depression -- and surprisingly, fewer people are living on the street.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that the number of the chronically homeless declined by 30% between 2005 and 2007. You might have expected the numbers to spike again when the financial crisis hit but no. Since 2007, the number of chronic homeless has dropped another 19%.
A broader measure of the number of homeless counts the number of people living out of doors on one randomly chosen night. That broader measure has also improved through the economic crisis. Between January 2011 and January 2012, homelessness among veterans dropped by 7%.
Probably every new parent can identify with the feelings Brian Castner expressed in the Daily Beast this weekend: "a father’s concern for his children’s safety—a panic over the helplessness of a baby so small it could stop breathing at any moment."
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Castner, however, feels that panic more intensely than most of us, having served as a bomb technician in Iraq and seen (as he says) many disturbing things. He wrote a memoir of that service and of his homecoming after, in which he described how he dealt with his fears: "sitting outside my newborn son’s room all night with a gun so that no one will harm him, and practicing reloading my pistol one handed so I could defend my children while driving them to school."
One can honor Castner's service - and feel compassion for the bad memories he carries with him - while also thinking: "Friend, you are behaving not only irrationally, but dangerously. In your aspiration to protect your son, you are exposing him to vastly greater risks."
If the CIA had done a better job publicizing this photo of Che Guevera, a lot of student dorm rooms would look less morally idiotic.
In the US, Facebook appears to be on the decline. The social media giant had a 4% drop in US visitors this past month, which amounts to roughly 6 million users. The story is the same in other major markets such as Canada and the UK.
But don't plan the funeral just yet. Investors are expecting $1.44 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2013, which is a sharp increase from last year’s first quarter revenue of $1.06 billion.
Not only has revenue seen a sharp increase, but Facebook membership in developing economies has also seen a big bump. In Brazil for example, Facebook visitation increased by 6% in March, which translates to roughly 70 million Brazilians.
Can the Tea Party and establishment, moderate-minded conservatives ever reconcile? At The American Prospect, Abby Rapoport cites a new study as evidence it won't happen.
[T]he gap between the two groups is huge. In the YouGov survey the study uses, more than two-thirds of Tea Partiers put themselves in the two most conservative categories on economic policy, social policy, and overall policy. Only 23 percent of non-Tea Partiers place themselves in the most conservative categories on all three issues; nearly 40 percent don’t locate themselves in the most conservative categories for any of the three policy areas.
Most jarring: On some issues, like abolishing the Department of Education and environmental regulation, the establishment Republicans are actually closer to Democrats than they are to the Tea Party respondents. That’s a gap too large to be overcome by a few political action committees and gestures of goodwill.
The basic idea behind austerity is that deflation via government cuts will rein in budget deficits and sovereign debt. However, austerity in practice, as Mark Blyth writes at Foreign Affairs, hasn't quite delivered.
In Spain, unemployment is at a record 27.2%. Great Britain could still enter the world’s first triple-dip recession. In the last quarter of 2012, the Eurozone as a whole contracted, which has never happened before. And yet, the ideals of austerity are still lauded by deficit and debt hawks in the US and abroad.
Portugal’s debt-to-GDP ratio increased from 62 percent in 2006 to 108 percent in 2012. Ireland’s more than quadrupled, from 24.8 percent in 2007 to 106.4 percent in 2012. Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio climbed from 106 percent in 2007 to 170 percent in 2012. And Latvia’s debt rose from 10.7 percent of GDP in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012. None of these statistics even begin to factor in the social costs of austerity, which include unemployment levels not seen since the 1930s in the countries that now make up the Eurozone.
A brave Pakistani columnist questions the hatred for Israel inculcated by his state's institutions and proposes that Pakistan move to normal relations with Israel.
We, as a nation, are already suffering from the setbacks of hate-filled curriculum and society that seeped into our values allowing no space for minorities. It is time we start giving space to everyone and work towards inter-faith and inter-ethnic harmony and collaboration.
If we can have friends in India and the USA, why can’t we have friends in Israel? Why not pave a way for initiation of relations, primarily with the people, and not initially the government that may create opportunities for peace and a better future for the coming generations?
(h/t Kapil Komireddi)
Why should we cheer the European Union?
FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images
From a Foreign Affairs interview with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski:
The European Union is extremely good for Poland. It was good for us even before we joined, because it gave us a strategic direction and a sort of civilizational template that secured democratic free markets in law. It required determination to get there, but now it is also the framework in which, for example, we no longer fear Germany, because we are both stakeholders in the same community. And the Visegrad Group -- Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary -- have the same number of votes as Germany and France combined. The Polish presidency in the European Union was particularly useful. It helped us to improve the quality of our state apparatus, gave us the experience of responsibility for 500 million people, and taught us to think on a continental scale.