Opinion

The Great Debate

American intelligence and fortune-telling

berndforblog

– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

Hot on the heels of  what President Barack Obama called a potentially disastrous “screw-up” by the civilian intelligence community, here comes a devastating report on shortcomings of military intelligence in Afghanistan, by the officer in charge of it. He likens the work of analysts to fortune-telling.

The report is highly unusual both because of its almost brutal candor and the way it was published, outside military channels. Even more unusual: the three authors hold out journalistic skills as models to emulate for gathering and putting together intelligence.

Senate retirements narrow cap-trade window

– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

kemp
LONDON – Yesterday’s announcement by Senator Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota) that he would not seek a fourth term in November, coupled with today’s expected announcement by Senator Chris Dodd (Democrat, Connecticut) that he won’t seek a sixth term, will remove two veterans, once secure legislators from the Democratic caucus.
It highlights the mounting problems confronting congressional Democrats facing voters in November’s midterms amid high unemployment, a relatively unpopular agenda led by the administration, and concerns about the party’s capture by special interests.

Dodd’s retirement is not surprising, given his plummeting poll numbers and criticism for being too close to the banking and insurance industries he regulates as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee but which have been major campaign contributors.

Obama, drugs and common sense

bernddebusmann.jpg– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed  are his own –

Barack Obama, January 21, 2004: “The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws…we need to rethink how we’re operating in the drug war. Currently, we are not doing a good job.”

Amen to that!

Since President Richard Nixon first declared war on drugs in 1969, seven successive administrations have spent billions upon billions on eradicating drug crops abroad, blocking shipments at the country’s borders, and enforcing tough drug laws at home. They failed to curb demand or throttle supplies.

Defeats doom climate bill in ’09

John Kemp– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

Resounding defeats for Democratic Party gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey on November 3 have killed any lingering hope Congress will enact climate change legislation this year, and may doom the prospect of passing a cap-and-trade bill this side of the 2010 mid-term elections.

Prospects for eventually passing legislation may now depend on winning Republican support with nuclear loan guarantees and more offshore drilling.

from The Great Debate UK:

Thomson Reuters Newsmaker: Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty

Political leaders gathered in Dublin to debate both sides of the controversial Lisbon Treaty and the implications it could have on the future of Europe.

The panel consisted of Micheál Martin, Ireland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigel Farage MEP, leader of UKIP, Mary-Lou McDonald, Deputy President of Sinn Fein and David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Watch the debate on the player below.

Profile of courage

kennedy2By John Aloysius Farrell — the views expressed are his own. This article first appeared on GlobalPost.

The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy will cost the United States not just a passionate voice for economic and racial justice, but also its irreplaceable champion of a liberal, less belligerent, humanistic foreign policy.

Step back to Friday, October 11, 2002, when only 23 U.S. senators voted against the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq.

from The Great Debate UK:

Who benefits from a file-sharing crackdown?

jollyroger-300x234- Andrew Robinson is the leader of the Pirate Party UK. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Draconian penalties for file sharing were threatened by the government on Tuesday. In addition to the previously announced 50,000 pound maximum penalty for "IP offences" we are now told that whole families are to be disconnected from the net if just one member is accused of sharing files.

Leaving aside the obvious injustice of this proposal and the fact that our court service which handled 2.1 million cases last year is not going to be able to handle the 4.9 million extra cases that the government's stated target of a 70 percent reduction in Britain's 7 million file sharers would would necessitate, I think we should also consider who stands to benefit from this proposed crackdown.

from The Great Debate UK:

Japan: The election that might change everything

debito- Arudou Debito, is a columnist for the Japan Times, activist, blogger at debito.org, and Chair of the NPO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association. The opinions expressed are his own -

Japan's famous mantra is that things don't change much or very quickly.  But I have a feeling that this approaching Lower House parliamentary election on August 30 just might prove that wrong.

But first some background.  Japan has been ruled essentially by one party since the end of World War II -- the Liberal Democrats (LDP).  That's longer than in any other liberal democracy, competing with other countries that have no other parties to choose from.

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