Opinion

The Great Debate

from Breakingviews:

Investors cheer for Brazil World Cup rout

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

At the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia a year ago, President Dilma Rousseff was booed by thousands of soccer fans for all of Brazil to see. It’s easy to understand then why she isn’t planning to speak at Thursday’s opening ceremony of the World Cup. An embarrassing turn as host of Earth’s biggest sporting event - or crushing repeat of the 1950 Maracanaço - may be the greatest obstacle to her clinching a second term.

With each dip in Rousseff’s poll numbers, the Bovespa Index kicks up a notch. Investors are hoping her experimental economic policies will come to an end at the ballot this fall.

With unemployment still low and millions of Brazilians lifted out of poverty over the past decade, however, it will take more than a few lousy economic reports between now and then to ensure Rousseff’s defeat. It will take a truly dreadful showing at the World Cup.

While few Brazilians are openly disparaging the home team, that many are privately reflecting on such an outcome is an indication of the malaise infecting Latin America’s largest economy. Inflation remains stubbornly high, hitting 6.4 percent just last week, gross domestic product growth is sluggish and the government’s finances are in bad shape.

Election laws that prevent elections

spivak -- conyers

After a half-century in the House of Representatives, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), now the second longest serving member of Congress, may be an unsympathetic victim to show how election laws can be unfairly used to keep potential challengers off the ballot.

But recent court rulings on Conyers as well as a New Jersey recall attempt highlight how election laws are frequently designed to benefit those in power — and block potential challengers.

Due to its mix of an embarrassing level of incompetence and Conyers’ long service, his failure to get enough signatures got attention. Conyers needed 1,000 valid registered voters in his district to sign his petition in order to get on the ballot. His supporters collected enough raw signatures, but many people either didn’t live in the district or weren’t registered voters. After striking these and other nonconforming signatures, Conyers only had 455 valid signatures. The county clerk struck Conyers from the ballot.

Obama’s ultimate indignity: Bush seen as more competent

bush-obama

Agreement is not enough.  Performance matters more.

That’s why the outlook for Democrats this November looks bleak.  More and more Americans now agree with Democrats on the issues.  But they are increasingly dismayed by President Barack Obama’s inability to get results.

The Gallup poll reports that, ideologically, Americans are moving to the left on both social and economic issues. Though more Americans continue to identify as conservatives than as liberals, the conservative advantage is shrinking.

In 2010, for example, which saw a huge backlash against Obama, self-described economic conservatives outnumbered economic liberals by 36 points. Every year since, the conservative lead has gotten smaller. It’s now 21 points.

Net neutrality: A web of deceit

Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on oversight of the FCC on Capitol Hill in Washington

Special-interest groups are calling for public-utility regulations to be placed on the Internet — the most innovative and society-shaping deregulatory success story of our time. These people are trying to exert control over the Internet through “net neutrality” regulations that will likely benefit only a few huge Internet companies and the top 1 percent of Internet users.

Net neutrality was developed to ensure that Internet users had the freedom to view all the legal content they wanted. Recently, however, there has been a shift in focus:  Some of the largest Internet companies are citing “net neutrality” as a reason to enshrine specific privileges that largely benefit them.

If these content companies get their way — and the Federal Communications Commission is now deliberating this — Americans will be forced to shoulder the costs for the high-speed networks and infrastructure upgrades needed to support high-volume Internet traffic generators, such as Netflix.

Bergdahl reveals the impossible choices faced by hostages’ families

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl waits in a pick-up truck before he is freed at the Afghan border

The furor surrounding the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl this week has exposed the murky world — and impossible choices — of the families of Americans taken captive by militants.

Demands for vast ransoms or for prisoner releases put these families in the excruciating position of seeming to be able to save a loved one’s life. Meet demands and your beloved lives. Hesitate and carry responsibility for their death to your grave.

Yet few families have access to the sums of money that militants demand. Nor can they free prisoners held by the United States or a local government. Despite the fact that the families feel primary responsibility, they have no real control.

from The Great Debate UK:

D-Day Dispatch: The first reporter on the beach

"I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory." Dwight D Eisenhower, D- DAY – June 6, 1944

 

<em>"Since before daybreak, bombers and fighters had cascaded their cargoes on German gun emplacements and pillboxes, scoured the skies for the Luftwaffe and probed ahead for tactical targets. This was war in its totality, theatrical and terrifying. The greatest combined operation in history was underway and this time, I was not just in the stalls but on the stage."</em>Doon Campbell, Reuters correspondent, ‘Magic Mistress – A 30 year affair with Reuters’</p><p> 

"Since before daybreak, bombers and fighters had cascaded their cargoes on German gun emplacements and pillboxes, scoured the skies for the Luftwaffe and probed ahead for tactical targets. This was war in its totality, theatrical and terrifying. The greatest combined operation in history was underway and this time, I was not just in the stalls but on the stage."Doon Campbell, Reuters correspondent, ‘Magic Mistress – A 30 year affair with Reuters’

Seventy years ago, the Normandy landings, which began on D-Day ( June 6, 1944), marked  the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Codenamed  ‘Operation Neptune’, the Allies, under the supreme command of U.S. General Dwight D Eisenhower, regained a foothold in Western Europe. Many months would pass before Hitler committed suicide, but from this moment, the days of his ‘Third Reich’ were numbered.

70 years after D-Day, some companies still struggle with their dark WWII history

dday777

As the world marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day this week with films, TV and radio broadcasts and dozens of new books specially published for the occasion, you might think that by now we know everything there is to know about World War Two. Check out any library or bookstore, and the amount of shelf-space dedicated to the 12 years of Hitler’s Third Reich often exceeds that of any other period in history, by far.

Yet even today, one facet of this period continues to be shrouded in obscurity, and still yields new secrets. It is the role, and complicity, of companies in the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Just last month, two German historians published a detailed account of how the forerunner of automaker Audi AG, Auto Union AG, used concentration camp inmates and dragooned labor at its factories in eastern Germany to produce tank and aircraft engines. About 3,700 inmates of makeshift concentration camps, set up specially for the company by the SS, worked as slave laborers in Zwickau and Chemnitz, alongside 16,500 others who were forcibly conscripted. Moreover, 18,000 inmates of the Flossenbürg concentration camp were put to work to build a massive underground factory for producing tank engines. An estimated 4,500 of those workers died in the process.

Bergdahl prisoner exchange: Weighing the blood on a terrorist’s hands

amos -- top

President Barack Obama’s decision to release five detainees from Guantanamo in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has provoked much opposition and criticism. The military, however, has an over-arching obligation to ensure the safe return of all personnel.

The criticism about the “price paid” is misplaced. The only way to ensure Bergdahl’s safe return was to release some detainees. The crucial questions are: Who to release? What terrorist acts were they involved in? What potential danger do they pose moving forward?

It is clear is that the freeing of a soldier exacts a price. The point is: What price?

Is Michelle running for the Senate?

michelle walking in

First Lady Michelle Obama is everywhere. She’s traveling to China. She’s raising money for Democrats. She’s issuing plaintive tweets seeking the rescue of the kidnapped Nigerian girls.

She’s wading uncharacteristically deep into the Washington political mud pit to defend her school lunch program against Republicans, assailing them last Tuesday for opting to “play politics with our kids’ health.” She struck a similar tone in a New York Times op-ed two days later, accusing Republicans of trying to “override science” and suggesting they join parents and “put our children’s interests first.”

So what’s with the bolder profile?

Sure,  Obama cares strongly about the things she is doing. That she does care in fact begs another question: Is caring all that’s going on here? Does she have political ambitions that would allow her to pursue an agenda while working to cement her husband’s legacy?

from Jack Shafer:

The guy who reads crap on the Web so you don’t have to

click777

You know that annoying guy in the office who steps on all of your punch lines? Who deflates with a concise quip the shaggy dog stories you're trying to tell? Well, that buttinski has taken his act to Twitter where, under the username SavedYouAClick, he's razoring the guts out of the often misleading and exploitative click-bait tweets posted by Huffington Post, Vice, Mashable, Cosmopolitan, Business Insider, TMZ, Drudge Report, and others designed to drive you to their stories.

Unlike the guy in your office, SavedYouAClick doesn't annoy, he delights. His interruptions on Twitter are pure public service. His method is simple: grab a publication's tweet that links to one of its stories -- such as this one on Wednesday from BusinessWeek, "How China's government is erasing the memory of the Tiananmen Square massacre" -- and then retweet it with an appropriate click-saving comment. How is China erasing the Tiananmen memory? "By pretending it never happened."

Other recent click-busters from the SavedYouAClick stream:

Adjust brightness, contrast, etc. RT @HuffingtonPost: Instagram introduces 10 new features that will take your photos to the next level

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