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10 of the Best Moments in Political Comedy This Year

December 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

In a year filled with upheaval and tragedy, we were all in need of a good laugh.


This was a rough year for comedy. As Chris Rock put it, “We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby.” But, we gained some, too. Breakout stars like Hari Kondabolu and John Oliver made keen, quotable observations that resonated with ever-widening audiences. Young Americans cited comedy news shows as increasingly more relevant than “traditional” news sources. And in a year when there was so much tumult, unrest and tragedy, nearly all comedy seemed political – quite possibly because we were all in such desperate need of a laugh. Not every notable high (or low) point necessarily came from those easily identified as political comedians. Sure, Stewart and Oliver take up expected slots on this list — but they sit alongside some less expected candidates. In times of political crisis, comedy is often where the most revealing, telling and above all, honestinsights are made. In 2014, these were 10 of the best political comedy examples of all three. (Eds. Note:Don’t worry that your favorites haven’t made this list. This is part one of a two-part series.)

1) Hari Kondabolu’s “2042 and the White Minority”:

Hari Kondabolu was one of, if not the, undisputed star of political comedy this year. A former immigrant-rights organizer, writer for the funny-but-canceled “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” and one of the most thoughtful — and truth-telling — voices on Twitter, Kondabolu has long been a provocative and perceptive voice on race. This year, with the release of his stand-up album “Waiting for 2042” — a reference to the year that white people will become a minority in the United States — Kondabolu’s audience and influence grew vastly with critics, comedy fans and activists alike. “Saying I’m obsessed with racism in America is like saying I’m obsessed with swimming when I’m drowning,” Kondabolu says in the clip below, a sentence that has recently found a home on signs carried in protests around the country.

 

2) Jon Stewart: “You Really Do Have No …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the CIA Torture Program Helped Give Birth to the Islamic State

December 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Loretta Napoleoni, AlterNet

Here's what the recent report on torture doesn't say.


The recent report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture in the dark years following 9/11 concedes that no valuable intelligence sprang from these gruesome interrogation techniques. But it's worse than that. In fact, the CIA ended up misleading the U.S. government on key security issues, using misinformation gained from the interrogations. Even Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured in Vietnam, has confirmed that under extreme physical duress, people lie and admit whatever their torturers want them to say.

We now know that among the jihadists brutally tortured was Abu Zubaydah, a native Saudi, whose false revelations most likely contributed to the construction of the myth of Abu Mussad al Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Zubaydah had gone to Afghanistan in the late 1980s to join the anti-Soviet jihad but never managed to become a mujahedin. According to Khalid al Hammadi, bin Laden’s personal driver, Abu Zubaydah was not even a member of al Qaeda. In the late 1980s he worked at the Arab Afghan Bureau in Peshawar as a junior helper, according to Abdullah Anas, son-in-law of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, the founder of the Arab Afghan Bureau and bin Laden’s mentor. Zubaydah worked together with Ahmed Fadel al Khalaylah, alias Abu Mos’ab al Zarqawi, a young Jordanian seeking to join the Jihad. Their tasks were to make tea and keep the place clean.

When Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in the summer of 2002, he was working in a guesthouse for injured mujahedin. But the U.S. authorities described him as a key member of al Qaeda, a recruiter and a trainer. To back this profile, they used the investigation of the foiled Millennium Plot in Jordan, which included the simultaneous bombing, during the Millennium celebration, of the Hotel Radisson SAS in Amman, one of the border crossings between Jordan and Israel, Mount Nebo in Jordan, and the site on the river Jordan where John the Baptist is believed to have baptized Jesus.

Because the attacks aimed to kill both American and Israeli tourists, Jordanian and American …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The 2014 Cato Institute Surveillance Conference

December 16, 2014 in Economics

Never in human history have people been more connected than they are today — nor have they been more thoroughly monitored. Over the past year, the disclosures spurred by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have drawn public attention to the stunning surveillance capabilities of the American intelligence community, and the unprecedented volume of data they collect from millions of people around the world. Cato’s inaugural Surveillance Conference featured a diverse array of experts: top journalists and privacy advocates; lawyers and technologists; intelligence officials; and those who’ve been targets of surveillance, culminating in a surprise appearance by Edward Snowden himself.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Libertarian Internationalism

December 16, 2014 in Economics

By Simon Lester

Simon Lester

One of the most dismissive terms thrown around in foreign policy circles is “isolationist.” If you are an isolationist, you clearly have not considered the issues carefully and rationally, and need not be taken seriously. Libertarian leaning politicians such as Ron and Rand Paul are frequent targets of this epithet.

There may or may not be a handful of actual libertarians who are isolationist, but the reality is that libertarianism is among the most internationally minded philosophies. Examining several key areas of international relations makes this clear: International trade, diplomacy and the military, and institutions.

The most obvious place where libertarians are internationalists is economic relations. True libertarians advocate the free flow of trade and investment, without government restrictions. This is about as international as you can get. For libertarians, the origin of a product or service is irrelevant. People around the world should be able to buy and sell from each other without government interference.

In the international arena, libertarians can and will have a strong voice and play an important role. That role should not be diminished by simplistic and inaccurate cries of isolationism.”

Unfortunately, in most countries today, there is a strong sentiment for favoring domestic economic actors over foreign ones. This feeling manifests itself in various forms, such as tariffs and Buy National procurement policies. Libertarians stand almost completely united against this nationalist feeling, believing that trade and other economic interaction with foreign actors benefits us all.

Diplomacy and the military is a more complicated policy area, involving a number of instances of potential relations between domestic and foreign. Here, though, there is a strong case that libertarians are more internationalist than most others. Of course, in part this depends on what one means by internationalism.

Libertarians are most frequently accused of isolationism when they object to military intervention in foreign territories. That libertarians usually object to these interventions is not in doubt. However, use of the military cannot always credibly be called internationalist. Colonialism and conquest, although they do require contact with foreigners, are not generally a positive form of international relations.

More controversially, libertarians may sometimes object to peaceful aid to foreigners as well. But this is not done out of anti-foreigner sentiment. Rather it is based on skepticism over the effectiveness of aid and its misuse as a foreign policy tool, and a general preference for markets over government support. Libertarians certainly believe in …read more

Source: OP-EDS