The Great Debate

Sorry Sony, Kim Jong-un and North Korea don’t really do parody

By Paul French
December 8, 2014

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the KPA Naval Unit 167

It seems Kim Jong-un doesn’t like the new Seth Rogan movie, The Interview. Not surprising really, it’s a comedy about a fictitious plot to assassinate him. Now Sony Pictures has been the subject of a massive cyber-attack disrupting the company’s communications system and leaking upcoming movies – no more rogue DPRK nukes to keep us awake at night, but rather illicit downloads of a new version of Annie!

Continuum of force: How police and public can have such different views

By Maria Haberfeld
December 5, 2014

Police in protective gear form a line as they respond to protesters on the West Side Highway in Manhattan in New York City as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of New York demanding justice for the death of Garner

When the Eric Garner video went viral, the public responded with two, unambivalent conclusions. The first was that the police officer used excessive force, and the second that excessive force is used too frequently.

Racism is also a reproductive rights issue

By Chloe Angyal
December 5, 2014

A female protester, demanding justice for Eric Garner, sports a face mask in Brooklyn, New York

Generally speaking, Americans understand reproductive rights as being about abortion, and sometimes, about birth control. In the mainstream understanding, reproductive rights are about the right to prevent or end unwanted pregnancy. But reproductive rights are about more than pregnancy. Reproductive justice is not just a matter of making sure that women only become mothers if and when and in the manner they choose – it’s also a matter of making sure that, when they choose to bring children into the world, they don’t bring them into a world that is disproportionately dangerous for those children.

‘I can’t breathe’: Why Eric Garner protests are gaining momentum

By Peniel Joseph
December 5, 2014

People take part in a protest against the grand jury decision on the death of Eric Garner in midtown Manhattan in New York

Suddenly, it feels like the 1960s again, with swirling movements for social justice finding inspiration and a powerful common denominator in the struggle for black equality.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Here’s why oil companies should be a lot more profitable than they are

By Anatole Kaletsky
December 5, 2014

Shaybah oilfield complex is seen at night in the Rub' al-Khali desert, Saudi Arabia

The 40 percent plunge in oil prices since July, when Brent crude peaked at $115 a barrel, is almost certainly good news for the world economy; but it is surely a crippling blow for oil producers. Oil prices below $70 certainly spell trouble for U.S. and Canadian shale and tar-sand producers and also for oil-exporting countries such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico and Russia that depend on inflated oil revenues to finance government spending or pay foreign debts. On the other hand, the implications of lower oil prices for the biggest U.S. and European oil companies are more ambiguous and could even be positive.

Vladimir Putin’s religious, ethnic rhetoric gets a little scary in Russian state-of-the-union address

By Lucian Kim
December 4, 2014

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Vladimir Putin lives in a scary world, where enemies plot tirelessly to undermine, trick, and destroy Russia. Containment wasn’t just a Cold War policy but a practice of Russia’s rivals for centuries. Even without a conflict in Ukraine, the United States and European Union would have come up with another pretext for imposing economic sanctions; they were an inevitable response to a rising Russia.

Old boys, new world: Britain’s upper crust looking more and more crusty

By John Lloyd
December 4, 2014

Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell leaves his home in London

England, wrote George Orwell in 1941, “is the most class-ridden country under the sun. It is a land of snobbery and privilege, ruled largely by the old and silly.”

An unexpected place for lessons to fight Mexico’s mafia: Italy

By Roberto Saviano
December 4, 2014

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At this moment, the fiercest, most powerful criminal organizations in the world are located in Mexico. Recent events should leave no one with any doubts.

Will change come from the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown?

By Alan Chin
December 3, 2014

People pick up signs with images of Eric Garner and Michael Brown as protesters begin to rally in New York

Everyone expected protests would flare up after a grand jury refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9. But some may be surprised that the protests continue not just in Ferguson, but also in dozens of cities and universities around the country. Demonstrations have ranged from the St. Louis Rams NFL football team entering the field with the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” gesture before last Sunday’s game, to major highways and bridges getting blocked for short periods by marchers in San Diego, Oakland, Washington, DC, and other locales.

Ferguson fallout: Violent protests can bring change – if it’s the authorities who are violent

By Alan Chin
December 3, 2014

Police officer holds a line in the rain against a group of protesters during a demonstration against the grand jury's decision in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown, in San Francisco

Everyone expected protests would flare up after a grand jury refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9. But some may be surprised that the protests continue not just in Ferguson, but also in dozens of cities and universities around the country. Demonstrations have ranged from the St. Louis Rams NFL football team entering the field with the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” gesture before last Sunday’s game, to major highways and bridges getting blocked for short periods by marchers in San Diego, Oakland, Washington, DC, and other locales.