Requiem for Syria
Amal Hanano, a Syrian-American writer, in a Foreign Policy article, "The Land of Topless Minarets and Headless Little Girls: A Requiem for Syria":
"Watching death has become a pastime of the revolution. There is much to learn from it. Death is sudden; it is shorter than a short YouTube clip. Death is a man wrapped in his shroud, bloodied gauze strips tied around his head, cotton stuffed in his nostrils and the bluish-gray tinge of his skin. Death is the camera panning over mass graves where children's bodies are arranged in long, perfect lines, then covered with rust-colored dirt. The death of Syrians accumulated so fast it seems impossible to comprehend over 40,000 lives lost in less than two years.
"But the death of a city is different. It is slow -- each neighborhood's death is documented bomb by bomb, shell by shell, stone by fallen stone. Witnessing the deaths of your cities is unbearable. Unlike the news of dead people -- which arrives too late, always after the fact -- the death of a city seems as if it can be halted, that the city can be saved from the clutches of destruction. But it is an illusion: The once-vibrant cities cannot be saved, so you watch, helpless, as they become ruins."
Spare the South Side
South Sider Angela Vesco writes on Facebook to "legally & illegally drunk youths, pro athletes on a bender, gun-toting miscreants & those of you with general poor impulse control":
"My neighborhood is not a giant bathroom. I guarantee the place you just left has one, so use it. I have no desire to see your unfortunate genitalia, dudes AND (sadly) ladies.
"My neighborhood is not a giant grocery store. Please stop dragging grocery carts all over the place and leaving them in my neighbors' yards.
"My neighborhood is not a landfill. Thanks for supporting the local businesses of the South Side but please clean up the debris of your late night snack. ...
"My neighborhood is not the Wild West. You can't just do whatever you like. If someone says something to you that you don't like ... the appropriate response is not to shoot at them, slit their throat or break their orbital bone. We all have to live here together so maybe just yell something back. Or better yet: Get in your car and go home ...
"Please just stop it."
What about spending?
Peter Suderman, in Reason, asks, "Why should we limit ourselves to just replicating one tiny fragment of Clinton-era governance -- higher tax rates on a fairly small number of earners? Why not replicate other aspects of Clinton's policy mix as well? Probably because that would entail mentioning something that [President Barack] Obama's frequent invocations of the Clinton years always ignore: that Clinton's spending levels were far, far lower than they have been for the last four years -- or than President Obama has called for them to be in the years to come.
"That's true no matter how you measure it. Government spending as a percentage of the economy fell during the Clinton presidency, starting at 21.4 percent and finishing up at about 18.2 percent of GDP in both 2000 and 2001. In 1993, Clinton's first budget spent $1.4 trillion. The last budget he helped create spent $1.8 trillion. So far, President Obama has spent about $3.5 trillion every year, averaging more than 24 percent of GDP."
Let's hope it's a fraud
London-based writer Gwynne Dyer, given the lack of action to roll back climate change at the latest round of talks in Doha, Qatar: "There probably is [only one] way to stop the warming from passing plus-2 degrees C ... during the decades it will take to get our emissions back down. It's called 'geo-engineering': direct human intervention in the climate system. Our greenhouse gas emissions are an inadvertent example of geo-engineering that is pushing the climate in the wrong direction. Another, deliberate kind of geo-engineering may be needed to stop it.
"Geo-engineering to hold the heat down is quite possible, though the undesirable side-effects could be very large. ... So the fourth phase of the climate talks, probably starting late this decade, will be about when it is time to start geo-engineering and what techniques should be used and who controls the process. They won't agree on that either, so things will drag on further ...
"So we had better hope that neutral observers like the fossil fuel industries are right in insisting that global warming is a fraud. Maybe all those scientists really are making it up just to get more money in research grants. That would be a happy ending, so fingers crossed."
Compiled by Greg Victor (email@example.com).