The View From Your Window

Aug 22 2014 @ 5:33pm
by Dish Staff

Lake Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. 716pm

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 7.16 pm

Is ISIS A Threat To Us?

Aug 22 2014 @ 4:46pm
by Dish Staff

Chuck Hagel thinks so:

The group “is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” Hagel said in response to a question about whether the Islamic State posed a similar threat to the United States as al Qaeda did before Sept. 11, 2001. “They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They’re tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything that we’ve seen,” Hagel said, adding that “the sophistication of terrorism and ideology married with resources now poses a whole new dynamic and a new paradigm of threats to this country.”

Hagel’s comments added to the mismatch between the Obama administration’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and its current game plan for how to take on the group in Iraq and Syria, which so far involves limited airstrikes and some military assistance to the Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting the militants. It has also requested from Congress $500 million to arm moderate rebel factions in Syria. But for now, the United States is not interested in an Iraqi offer to let U.S. fighter jets operate out of Iraqi air bases.

Retired Gen. John Allen seconds Hagel’s assessment, arguing that the US has the means to destroy ISIS and a moral and security-based obligation to do so:

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Mental Health Break

Aug 22 2014 @ 4:20pm
by Dish Staff

(Hat tip: Tastefully Offensive)

The Planet Hacking Rules

Aug 22 2014 @ 3:57pm
by Dish Staff

All this week Brian Merchant has been reporting from Berlin’s Climate Engineering Conference. On Monday, he brought word that “Professor Steve Rayner, the co-director of the Oxford Geoengineering Programme, has unveiled a proposal to create the first serious framework for future geoengineering experiments”:

It’s a sign that what are still considered drastic and risky measures to combat climate change, like artificially injecting tiny particles into the Earth’s atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space, are drifting further into the purview of mainstream science. The august scientific body has issued a call to create “an open and transparent review process that ensures such experiments have the necessary social license to operate.”

In a second post he discusses how, in “the international and academic communities, geoengineering is still something of a scientific non grata” because, for many, “even by floating the idea that climate change can be solved with a techno-fix, it’s presenting humanity with a get-out-of-jail-free card that could erode the impetus for tougher action”:

For better or for worse, we’re talking about hacking the planet.

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by Dish Staff

NATO claims that Russian artillery have been moved into Ukraine over the past few days and are now firing on Ukrainian forces:

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a statement from Brussels, said the group has “also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.” Rasmussen condemned Moscow for allowing an ostensibly humanitarian economic convoy to enter Ukraine with no involvement from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which typically coordinates such missions. He went on to blame Russia for escalating tensions with a military buildup along the Ukrainian border.

Brett LoGiurato portrays Russia’s decision to send its suspicious aid convoy across the border without the Ukrainian government’s consent as calling the bluff of Kiev and its backers in the West:

The European Union commission urged Russia to “reverse its decision.” The Pentagon told Russia to “remove its vehicles immediately.” But the “or else” threats from the West have been piling up for months in the Ukrainian crisis. And Putin suspects that Ukraine will not fire on the convoy, which would give Russia a pretext for more direct intervention. Putin also knows the European Union and U.S. are unlikely to directly intervene, as they are looking to calm tensions in the region and for a possible cease-fire. Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are scheduled to meet next week in Minsk, Belarus, the first time the two will have met face-to-face since June. It’s the best chance in a while that European leaders have seen to defuse the crisis.

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by Dish Staff

How will the midterms change the balance of power in the Senate? The NYT calculates the odds of various scenarios:

Senate Odds

This week McConnell previewed how a Republican Senate would function:

Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown.

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency.

Beutler doubts his strategy will work:

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Two Cheers for Bustle

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:57pm
by Freddie deBoer

While I’m on the subject of making professional online writing sustainable– yesterday, Amanda Hess at Slate took a look back at the first year of Bustle, the controversial women’s site that launched to much derision. That criticism largely stemmed from Bustle’s founder, Bryan Goldberg, and a disastrous announcement he made that made his site sound simultaneously self-important and condescending to its own audience. Internet infamy followed. And yet Hess has found that Goldberg has wooed many of his old critics, and that Bustle has been a massive success in terms of building an audience and securing ad revenue. To which I say: good, I guess?

Goldberg is a dink. His initial rollout of the site was plainly dopey, although from a troll bait, “any publicity is good publicity” standpoint, kind of genius. I can understand why people would be upset that this guy has become a powerful force in women’s media, and that he’s raking in more money. But I think there was a simple reason to cheer Goldberg’s site even back before he did his apology tour: Bustle pays, and it pays women, and that in and of itself is a kind of victory online.

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Foley’s Impossible Ransom

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:38pm
by Dish Staff

Before deciding to murder captive American journalist James Foley, ISIS had attempted to extort an enormous ransom from the US government in exchange for his release:

Long before the dark bluster behind ISIL’s rationale for killing an American civilian, there had reportedly been a call for a ransom. Philip Balboni, Foley’s boss at GlobalPost, told The Wall Street Journal that the captors demanded 100 million euros in exchange for Foley’s release. The New York Times reported the figure as $100 million USD, and says the captors also added other demands, including an exchange of prisoners being held by the United States. … Balboni also told WCVB, that the family received an email last week — after the U.S. began its bombing campaign against ISIL — indicating that they were going to kill Foley. That email made no demands and was “full of rage,” making no suggestion that he could be spared with a payment.

This revelation has left some people wondering why the administration was willing to trade with the Taliban for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but not with ISIS for Foley. Joshua Keating makes the case for why those were the right calls:

As counterterrorism scholar Peter Neumann argued in a 2007 Foreign Affairs article, governments must at times negotiate and even grant concessions to groups it considers to be terrorists. The decision about whether to do so should be made less on the basis of the group’s relative odiousness than on whether such a deal could help stop violence. …

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Teen Pregnancy Is Way Down, Ctd

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:23pm
by Dish Staff

Douthat contends that a “cultural consensus” is to thank for the decline in teen pregnancy, because “the idea that we should (and, just as importantly, can) reduce the teen birth rate unites just about every faction in American politics and culture”:

This possibility makes a case for being relatively optimistic that today’s trend will, in fact, persist, and that tomorrow’s teen birth rate could be lower still than today’s. At the same time, it leaves room for pessimism about whether our culture’s success in this area can be easily translated to the broader problem of adult out-of-wedlock births, adult family instability, and the cultural and socioeconomic problems associated with those trends. …

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by Matthew Sitman

Readers continue to respond to our thread on the books, poems, and stories that have meant the most to them. One reader sent in the above video of Mary Oliver reading her poem “Wild Geese.” Another wryly appreciates this poem:

This makes me chuckle even when I’m in that emotional black hole called depression. It was also one of my late mother’s favorites. From the irrepressible Dorothy Parker:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Another holds close a poem from Jack Gilbert:

The following poem is one that I come back to often for solace during dark times. I studied International Aid in grad school and I think it has given me a good perspective on suffering across the world: on the one hand, there’s more extreme poverty, disease, oppression, general hardship out there than most Westerners ever dream of, and on the other hand, most people across the world find ways to get by and squeeze some joy and meaning out of life anyway, even in the direst of circumstances. This poem reminds me of that.

“A Brief For The Defense” by Jack Gilbert:

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