Opinion

The Great Debate

When you abuse someone, it’s never a private matter

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I finally watched the Ray Rice video, the one of the Baltimore Ravens star running back decking his wife in an elevator. If you haven’t seen it, do, and then decide whether you agree with the victim that this is a private matter between her and her husband. Really? In what universe is knocking someone else out a private matter?

What if he had hit a friend or a stranger? It would have been laughable to suggest the assault deserved a ring of privacy and that the cops shouldn’t be called and justice pursued. But because the woman was his fiancée, now spouse, she was calling her knockout a family matter.

We do a strange dance with the issue of privacy. We have a kind of love-hate relationship with it. We have jettisoned it in so many ways, with our daily tweets and techno-bytes of self-revelation, the constant Instagraming and messaging. Yet we cling to it on some level — like a curtain to draw around ourselves when we wish.

Patriarchy makes good use of the issue of privacy. Behind that curtain — or those elevator doors — it can still swagger and intimidate and hurt. Then, if the victim refuses to press the case, the state is reluctant to intervene. There is a presumption that it is entirely their business — the couple’s — to sort out.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) warms up during the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII football practice in New OrleansWe had this same discussion before, about children. We have now moved off the notion that what parents did in their homes in the name of discipline — or in eruptions of temper — should always be countenanced. Enough outcry, and enough gut-clutching memoirs written by authors abused as kids, helped shift attitudes. We came to understand that it was incumbent on all of us to intervene — or insist that our law enforcement and courts do. (Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the sorry record that many child protection services have.)

In Scotland’s capital, ‘Better Together’ are fighting words

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Every major road in Scotland is now festooned with signs and billboards saying either “Yes” or the more genteel “No thanks” – but the big difference is that most of the “No thanks” signs have been vandalized.

It’s a small taster of how aggressive and punchy the Scottish independence referendum has become – and why, perhaps, so many “No” voters aren’t daring to raise their heads above the parapet.

Many people outside the UK believe that because the Independence vote is now split right down the middle, both camps must be matching each other shout for shout. They think it’s like a U.S. presidential election, where both Democrats and Republicans spend millions on trying to make the most noise.

from Breakingviews:

Applying corporate finance to nations

By Rob Cox

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

It is generally accepted on Wall Street that breaking up bloated and unwieldy companies is a good thing. Division makes them easier to manage, more accountable and allows them to deliver greater value to their many constituents. On the eve of Scotland’s historic vote on independence, it’s worth considering whether the same logic might also be applied to nations.

Scotland will vote on Thursday whether to spin itself off from the United Kingdom. Catalonia is planning a similar, but not legally binding referendum on leaving Spain in November. If both go their own way, other European nations could end up splitting into smaller new political units.

from Mark Leonard:

Why Scotland looks like the canary in the independence coal mine

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Scotland's drive to independence has been interpreted by many as a throwback to ancient identity politics – but many of the trends on display in the Scottish referendum have more to do with the politics of the future than those of the past.

The polls show that this week’s vote is too close to call. There is still a chance that the “No” campaign will ultimately prevail – something that I dearly hope will happen both for the sake of the Scots and the rest of the Britain.

But whatever the result of the vote, I think we must recognize that the “Yes” campaign has done more to shape the agenda of Scottish politics. And it is the forces it tapped into that will also change politics around the world.

Avoid a classic blunder: Stay out of religious wars in the Middle East

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Muslims in the Middle East are fighting wars of religion. Like the carnage between Protestants and Catholics that haunted Northern Ireland during the last third of the 20th century, there is little anyone can do until local peoples crave peace so intensely they are willing to cultivate it.

History shows that outside meddling only intensifies sectarian fury. Stopping internecine war begins at home. President Barack Obama imperils Americans by trying to excise an abscess that can be cured only from the inside out. The decision to re-engage in Iraq, and the wider Middle East, also contradicts the president’s other, bigger objective: to exit the nanny business.

Shi'ite Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Imam Hussein shrine in the holy city of KerbalaThe last time religious aggression swept an entire subcontinent was during the Reformation four centuries ago, when Christians hashed out their hatreds much as Muslims of the Middle East are doing today.

from Stories I’d like to see:

Just how strange is Governor Andrew Cuomo?

New York Governor M. Cuomo stands during a news conference following a bi-state meeting on regional security and preparedness in New York

1. What’s the matter with Andrew Cuomo?

By now I assume New Yorker editor David Remnick has assigned someone to do a profile of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is fast becoming the Howard Hughes of big-time politicians.

But just in case he hasn’t, here’s a reminder for him or any other smart editor why it’s time to take a long look at the governor: The New York Times report in late July detailing how Cuomo interfered with his supposedly independent corruption commission was great stuff. Even better were subsequent accounts in the Times and elsewhere about the governor’s clumsy attempts to explain things once he got caught.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee talk during memorial observances held at the site of the World Trade Center in New YorkBut the scandal over Cuomo’s scandal commission -- which has spawned an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in New York -- seems to be the tip of a proverbial iceberg of not just classic political hypocrisy but downright weirdness and paranoia not seen among big-shot politicians since President Richard M. Nixon roamed the halls of the White House.

Russians love their children, too – but that alone won’t stop a nuclear war

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Back when most of today’s Western decision-makers were in college, Sting had a hit song with “Russians.” It began:

In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Khrushchev said we will bury you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

It sometimes seems that most Western analysis of Russia has the sophistication of this song.

The simplicity of the idea that all humans are essentially the same, and that a common understanding is thus always within reach, is seductive. Its appeal stems from the fact that few things are harder than knowing someone whose views of the world are profoundly different from yours. This is why it has been so difficult for a veritable army of Western experts to explain or predict Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior.

Why vote yes? Scotland’s voice is drowned out in the United Kingdom.

'Yes' campaign people gather for a rally outside the BBC in Glasgow

There are hours to go until people in Scotland answer the question posed to them in an historic referendum: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Some weekend polls revealed a lead for No, while others put Yes ahead. With the race too close to call, what is clear is that a pro-independence vote, once considered fanciful, now is a serious possibility.

So why has support for Yes grown with such momentum?

There are obvious economic gains to be had from independence. Domestic oil reserves combined with well-developed service and manufacturing industries would help make the country one of the wealthiest in the world. But the gains in democracy are just as alluring as the economic ones.

Rape myths hide crimes. Just ask these children.

Children hold placards during a procession urging legislators to prioritize anti-child pornography bill passage in Quezon City

Some myths are so powerful that they change our perception of reality. Under their influence even the most obvious truths — or crimes — can be rendered invisible. Such as rape.

Hidden in Plain Sight is an aptly titled new study by the United Nations International Children’s Fund. It shows that one in 10 girls and young women interviewed reported being sexually abused before age 20. “These are uncomfortable facts,” one UNICEF official said of the report, the largest study on global child abuse to date. “No government or parent will want to see them.”

Even if we want to see these facts, however, the many myths about rape prevent us from doing so.

NATO could have trouble combating Putin’s military strategy

A Canadian Air Task Force jets CF-18 stands in the Siauliai air base

Since Russian troops seized Ukraine’s strategic Crimean peninsula in late February, and separatists backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin began waging a bloody insurgency in the country’s east, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has walked a fine line.

The transatlantic military alliance has sent hundreds of troops to Ukraine to train alongside Kiev’s forces. But at a major summit in early September, NATO declined to offer Ukraine membership. The alliance doesn’t really want to go to war over Ukraine.

If Russia were to expand its coercive campaign, however, and invade neighboring Estonia — where a security officer is said to have been abducted by Russian forces, a little more than a week ago — NATO’s 27 other member states would have little choice but to deploy troops in combat. They are obligated under Article 5 of NATO’s 1949 founding charter to defend each other from attack.

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