Archive

June 6th, 2016

Past time for U.S military to open its doors to Sikhs

    On Veterans Day last year, twenty-seven retired U.S. generals, 105 members of Congress, and 15 senators signed a letter demanding that the Pentagon lift the ban prohibiting American Sikhs from serving in the military. But the ban persists.

    Their arguments, like all the other arguments in favor of lifting the ban, are based on the American ideals of inclusion, diversity, and religious tolerance. While I am in favor of diversity, inclusion, and religious tolerance, I would like to make the argument from another perspective - that of concern about the credibility of the American narrative. It is in the strategic and pragmatic best interests of the United States to allow observant Sikhs to serve in the military while bearded and turbaned.

    Sikhs served in the U.S. military from WW1 until 1981 when new regulations requiring uniformity of facial hair and headgear forced them to decide between violating their faith or serving their country - a very un-American choice to have to make.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

From the Dalai Lama, a pipe dream for Europe's refugees

    The Dalai Lama is one of the most admired people in the world; he is also the world's most famous refugee. That makes his recent comments to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung -- that Germany has too many Muslim refugees -- both surprising and controversial; perhaps more so than they should be.

    Taken out of context, the Dalai Lama's words in the interview with the German daily seem to fit right in with messages from the anti-immigrant Alternative fuer Deutschland party. "There are now too many," he said. "Europe, for example Germany, cannot be an Arab land. Germany is Germany."

    It's as important, though, that he said two other things. One essentially signifies approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel's initial urge to accept the escapees from the Syrian war: "If we look into the face of each individual refugee, especially the children and the women, we will feel their suffering. A person who is doing somewhat better has the responsibility to help them."

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Cell phones, cancer and the anatomy of a health scare

    The latest study supposedly linking cell-phone radiation to cancer was meant to serve the public good. But its effect on the public has been bad. The $25 million government-funded experiment produced confusion and scary headlines, but little in the way of useful information -- beyond perhaps an indication of where the science publicity machine is broken.

    This wasn't necessarily a case of bad science. The researchers, from the National Toxicology Program, subjected one group of rats to high doses of radiation of a frequency similar to that emitted by cell phones. Following accepted protocol, they compared the radiation-exposed rats to a control group. The pathologists looking for cancer didn't know which animals came from which group.

    But last week, the scientists released partial, unpublished results in a rush, suggesting some public health urgency. They claimed to have identified a link between the radiation and a type of brain cancer called a glioma as well as a non-malignant growth called a schwannoma. Adding fuel to their health scare, they offered up sound bites such as "breakthrough" and "game changer."

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

June 5th

How to how to fix the apathy problem in schools

    Any discussion about the problems in American education -- and what is to blame for these problems - will likely include one or all of the usual suspects: inadequate and unequal funding, a lack of resources, underpaid and overworked teachers, over-testing, poverty and heavy-handed legislation.

    As a teacher and the mother of four public-school-educated children, I can tell you that all of these things have negatively impacted our schools. All of these things are problems.

    But there is another problem, one that is plaguing many of America's classrooms and jeopardizing the future of our children, yet it is rarely addressed - at least not as it should be. That problem is apathy. In classrooms all over the country, the teacher cares more about her students' grades, learning and futures than they do.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Conflicts of interest? President Trump would have quite a few

    If Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, wins the general election in November, he would still be allowed to oversee operations and collect income from the more than 500 businesses he's listed in a personal financial disclosure form filed with the Federal Election Commission.

    Some of these operations appear to be substantial (such as 401 North Wabash Venture, which Trump used to develop a hotel and condominium project in Chicago; Trump National Doral, one of his Florida golf courses; and a handful of entities related to the skyscraper he owns at 40 Wall Street in New York). Some go back to Trump's earliest days in real estate when he worked for his father, Fred, and involve partnerships set up with his siblings (such as the East 61st Street Company, Reg Tru Equities and Park Briar Associates). Some don't really look like businesses (membership on the board of the Police Athletic League); some are whimsical (a carousel he operates for New York City); some seem to describe the current political moment (Trump Follies LLC).

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Green energy won't bring about oil's doom

    For hydrocarbon doomsayers, there's good news and bad news. In 2015, there were record investments in renewable energy, and record capacity was added, much of it in emerging economies. Yet despite the huge investment, the global share of fossil fuels is not shrinking very fast. Renewables such as wind, solar and geothermal still account for a tiny share of energy production, and there are factors that may inhibit their growth in the next few years.

    REN21, the international renewable energy association backed by the United Nations Environment Program, has summarized impressive developments in the sector in 2015. Total investment in renewable power and fuels reached $285.9 billion, an all-time record, and renewable power capacity, including hydropower, increased by 148 gigawatts -- another record -- to 1.8 terawatts. For the sixth consecutive year, investment in new renewable capacity was higher than in hydrocarbon-burning power plants.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

If Donald Trump loses, will the GOP change its ways? Don't bet on it.

    If you're a liberal, the idea of a Donald Trump presidency is utterly horrific, and there's just no question that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be infinitely preferable. But what if you're a conservative who finds Trump abhorrent? It's far more complicated, even if you're not one of those who has quieted your doubts and hopped aboard the Trump bandwagon. Now that Trump is the Republican Party's presumptive nominee, what exactly is the outcome you're hoping for? And if Trump does lose, what happens to your party then?

    In the rapidly depleting ranks of the Never Trump movement, these are difficult questions to address. But Bret Stephens, deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, went further than most are willing to Sunday during an appearance on "Fareed Zakaria GPS":

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

You may hate the 'Star Wars' prequels - but they predicted our current political era

    Cool people dislike the "Star Wars" "prequels" - Episodes 1, 2, and 3. The dialogue is wooden, the actors are stiff, and there's far less energy and wit than in the beloved original trilogy. But if you're looking for a quick guide to current political struggles - both in the United States and all over the world - you should give the prequels another chance.

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, paralyzing political divisions threatened democratic governments. Disputes over free trade, and the free movement of people and goods, were a big reason. Stymied by polarization and endless debates, the Senate proved unable to resolve those disputes.

    As a result, nationalist sentiments intensified, leading to movements for separation from centralized institutions. People craved a strong leader who would introduce order - and simultaneously combat growing terrorist threats.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Democracy, the death penalty and the Supreme Court

    One Louisiana county accounts for half the state's death sentences - even though it has just 5 percent of the state's population and 5 percent of its homicides.

    On Tuesday, Justice Stephen Breyer cited this fact about Caddo Parish, Louisiana, in a dissenting U.S. Supreme Court opinion arguing that the death penalty is unconstitutional. The "arbitrary" factor of geography, Breyer proposed, is a reason to think that the death sentence is cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

    Is Breyer right? Last June, in a case called Glossip v. Gross, Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguing that the death penalty was unconstitutional under all circumstances. In that opinion he also expressed concern that the accident of geography affects who gets a death sentence.

    Tuesday's opinion, also joined by Ginsburg, was a dissent from the court's refusal to hear a capital case coming out of Caddo Parish. The opinion expands on the geography rationale in particular.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Young Americans would gain from seeing the world

    At a total estimated cost of $1.5 trillion, the F-35 fighter plane is the most expensive weapons system in history. Acquisition costs alone for F-35s totaled more than $8 billion in fiscal 2015, and that's expected to almost double in the years ahead. Unfortunately, the plane doesn't really work yet, despite over a decade of spending, and there are rumbling questions over whether it ever will work. Such are the perils of the military-industrial complex.

    What else could we spend $8 billion on that would yield greater benefits for the U.S.? The government could mail some checks to poor people, repair the roads or plow the money into next-generation battery research. All of those would be good uses of the money. But I also thought of a new, highly speculative idea for an $8 billion program that might do the U.S. a world of good.

    I suggest we give every young American a trip overseas.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!