You are browsing the archive for 2015 January 09.

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All Mainstream Media Must Publish the Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

January 9, 2015 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner

To all those media outlets who have convinced themselves that they don’t need to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in reporting the recent events in Paris: you are profoundly wrong.

Your raison d’etre is to present news. The Hebdo cartoons are a natural part of the story of the murders in Paris. To assert that a description of an image is anything like the image, itself, is a rationalization of cowardice. The only reason to “describe images” without publishing them is fear of the consequences of publishing.

The official reason offered by many Western media outlets for not showing us the images that have at least in part provided the excuse for three fanatics to murder is “so as not to cause offense.”

First, you can’t cause offense. Offense is always taken, never given. Western society depends on that — on responsibility for one’s emotions, and if not for one’s emotions, then for what one does with one’s emotions. Many of us get offended on a weekly basis. The “right” not to be offended is not a right at all. Rather it can only ever be, by definition, a claim made to limit the rights of others.

Some people and organizations do indeed get-off on causing offense for attention or for its own sake. I have little time for such behavior. Indeed, all my political work is geared to mutual respect and finding common ground.

But that is not at issue here. Any sane person can see that the presentation of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in stories about the murders in Paris is a very natural and legitimate part of telling the story of those murders — a purpose that is entirely and necessarily consistent with the much greater and deeply necessary purpose of the media in a civilized society.

This is all very basic stuff. Murders have been committed because (among other reasons) the murderers dislike the way their victims exercised their freedom of expression. Some media organizations whose existence depends on that freedom, and that have the greatest responsibility to defend it (because they exercise that right every day), are giving it up without a fight. That responsibility to defend it is a responsibility to self-interest, let alone to the free …read more

Source: ROBIN KOERNER BLOG

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Don't Give in on EPA Regs

January 9, 2015 in Economics

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

With the new Republican congressional majorities in place, the time has come for Obama’s Climate Action Plan to face the music. But with the president advertising his intent to use his veto power to defend what he sees as his achievements in his fight against climate change, victories by either side are going to come hard fought.

Already there is talk of trading concessions on energy policies for support of the Keystone XL pipeline. But throughout this process, Republicans need to distinguish between issues that are largely symbolic, like the Keystone pipeline, and those that are concrete and invasive, such as burdensome EPA regulations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Keystone XL pipeline is of little significance to anything tangible — including gas prices, jobs, and, yes, the environment. The price of gasoline is for the most part determined by global forces in the oil market, of which the Keystone XL oil will be but a drop. The pipeline’s job-creation potential is largely ephemeral; although the construction of the pipeline will create tens of thousands of jobs, the operation of it thereafter is expected to create fewer than 100 permanent jobs. And least significant of all is its impact on climate change. If it were to operate at full capacity for the next 85 years, the consumption of oil delivered by the pipeline would lead to global warming of less than a hundredth of a degree — an amount that is scientifically undetectable and environmentally inconsequential.

The new Congress will be tempted to concede for the sake of Keystone. It mustn’t.”

The fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is, and always has been, nothing but a symbol — of dedication to environmentalism, for the Left; of resistance to excessive government interference, for the Right. Huge amounts of time and money have been spent — or, more accurately, wasted — arguing fruitlessly that it is something more concrete. Practically speaking, its implications are tiny.

This is not true, however, of the litany of carbon-dioxide–limiting regulations that President Obama has imposed through the EPA. These onerous regulations try to force a reduction in demand through increasing the price of energy derived from fossil fuels (that is, coal, oil, natural gas). They will infiltrate each of our daily lives, making everything more expensive and potentially threatening the reliability of our energy supply. And for what?

As far as the environment …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Importance of Property Rights for China's Future

January 9, 2015 in Economics

By James A. Dorn

James A. Dorn

For the first time since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis China may fail to meet its real GDP growth target for a given year, which in 2014 was set at 7.5 percent. If the growth figure comes in at 7.3 percent, as expected, Beijing is likely to lower the target for 2015 to 7 percent. That is a far cry from the double-digit growth experienced for more than three decades following the 1978 opening to the outside world.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have called for rebalancing the economy and structural reforms, with the recognition that slower, more sustainable high-quality growth is consistent with the “China Dream” of all-round development. But that dream could turn into a nightmare if political factors prevent fundamental reform, especially a just rule of law that protects and expands private property rights, including freedom of expression.

Economic life is predicated on voluntary exchange, which in turn depends on well-defined private property rights. Trust is based on reputation and promises kept, which means the power of government and the law must be used to safeguard people and property. A government with limited power enhances personal and economic freedom, and provides individuals with a wider range of choices than under top-down planning and control.

Economic life is predicated on voluntary exchange, which in turn depends on well-defined private property rights.”

China has made significant progress in liberalizing markets and growing the private sector, but much still needs to be done to shift responsibility from the state to the market — particularly in the financial sector. The large state-owned banks obey government officials and cannot go bankrupt. The allocation of credit is still heavily politicized, and state-owned enterprises are first in line. Lending rates are set by the People’s Bank of China, which is under state control and thus subject to the rule of men, not rule of law.

Recent actions by the central bank have pushed the stock market to new highs and should help the sagging property market, but have done nothing to restructure the financial system or privatize state-owned enterprises. The decrease in the benchmark lending rate will help incentivize the mortgage market, but the large excess capacity will persist. Likewise, the injection of about US$ 65 billion into the banking system in the form of short-term loans and another US$ 242 billion from the effective reduction of banks’ reserve-requirement ratios …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Obama to Promote Little Schools That Can't?

January 9, 2015 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Today, depending on when this is posted, President Obama either will have delivered a speech, or is about to, extolling the virtues of community colleges. The talk is expected to be a preview of the upcoming State of the Union address, in which Obama has promoted community colleges — the little schools that can — before. Or are they really the little schools that can’t?

All signs, alas, point to the latter. By a lot.

First, a trip down Digest of Education Statistics Lane reveals an atrocious completion rate for students at two-year, public institutions. Only a dismal 19.5 percent of first-time, full-time students at public two-year institutions complete within 150 percent of the time their program is supposed to take, and that rate has been dropping for years.

That is awful, but don’t a lot of students from such schools transfer to four-year institutions? Not really. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 20 percent of community college students transfer to four-year schools, and only 72 percent of those will have finished or remained enrolled four years later. So, from what we can tell, we are looking at completion for around just 34 percent of community colleges students. I don’t see much to celebrate in that.

Of course, what is politically appealing about community colleges is that they are relatively cheap to students, and, of course, they are officially nonprofit, which means they must be pure as the driven snow. But the completion data simply don’t justify a loving embrace of these schools, and policy will only ultimately be successful if it is grounded in reality. Of course, higher education policy hasn’t been so grounded in decades, so why shouldn’t community colleges get a pass?

Neal McCluskey is the associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

…read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bill Maher on Paris Attack: 'There Are No Great Religions—They're All Stupid and Dangerous'

January 9, 2015 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

“I'm asking liberals to turn toward the truth.”


Bill Maher said the attacks on the French satirical magazine should serve as a wakeup call to American liberals that mainstream Muslims do not share their democratic values.

The comedian and talk show host appeared Wednesday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he addressed the murders of 12 people at the Paris offices of “Charlie Hebdo.”

“This has to stop, and unfortunately, a lot of the liberals, who are my tribe — I am a proud liberal,” Maher said.

“No, I’m not turning on them,” Maher said. “I’m asking them to turn toward the truth as I have been for quite a while. I’m the liberal in this debate. I’m for free speech. To be a liberal, you have to stand up for liberal principles. It’s not my fault that the part of the world that is most against liberal principles is the Muslim part of the world.”

Maher claimed the attacks were supported by mainstream Muslims throughout the world.

“I know most Muslim people would not have carried out an attack like this, but here’s the important point,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of them support an attack like this, they applaud an attack like this. What they say is, we don’t approve of violence, but you know what, when you make fun of the prophet, all bets are off.”

He said American liberals turned a blind eye to Muslim extremism.

“They chop heads off in the square in Mecca,” Maher said. “Well, Mecca is their Vatican City. If they were chopping the heads off of Catholic gay people, wouldn’t there be a bigger outcry among liberals? I’d ask you.”

Maher called on liberals in the U.S. to unequivocally condemn the attacks and the supposed motivations of the attackers.

“We have to stop saying when something like this that happened in Paris today, we have to stop saying, well, we should not insult a great religion,” Maher said. “First of all, there are no great religions. They’re all stupid and dangerous — and we should insult them and …read more

Source: ALTERNET