Archives For: The Dish

by Dish Staff

Just one day after Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko met in Belarus to discuss a resolution to the Ukrainian conflict, the NYT is reporting that Russian forces have invaded southeast Ukraine near the city of Novoazovsk:

The attacks outside this city and in an area to the north essentially have opened a new, third front in the war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, along with the fighting outside the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Exhausted, filthy and dismayed, Ukrainian soldiers staggering out of Novoazovsk for safer territory said Tuesday they were cannon fodder for the forces coming from Russia. As they spoke, tank shells whistled in from the east and exploded nearby. … A Ukrainian military spokesman said Wednesday the army still controlled Novoazvosk but that 13 soldiers had died in the fighting. The behavior of the Ukrainian forces corroborated assertions by Western and Ukrainian officials that Russia, despite its strenuous denials, is orchestrating a new counteroffensive to help the besieged separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic, who have been reeling from aggressive Ukrainian military advances in recent weeks.

The Interpreter’s live blog rounds up reports of other incursions:

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by Dish Staff

Jelani Cobb brings a personal perspective:

I spent eight days in Ferguson, and in that time I developed a kind of between-the-world-and-Ferguson view of the events surrounding Brown’s death. I was once a linebacker-sized eighteen-year-old, too. What I knew then, what black people have been required to know, is that there are few things more dangerous than the perception that one is a danger. I’m embarrassed to recall that my adolescent love of words doubled as a strategy to assuage those fears; it was both a pitiable desire for acceptance and a practical necessity for survival. I know, to this day, the element of inadvertent intimidation that colors the most innocuous interactions, particularly with white people. There are protocols for this. I sometimes let slip that I’m a professor or that I’m scarcely even familiar with the rules of football, minor biographical facts that stand in for a broader, unspoken statement of reassurance: there is no danger here. And the result is civil small talk and feeble smiles and a sense of having compromised. Other times, in an elevator or crossing a darkened parking lot, when I am six feet away but the world remains between us, I remain silent and simply let whatever miasma of stereotype or fear might be there fill the void.

Fuck you, I think. If I don’t get to feel safe here, why should you?

Taking Shelter Under Our Wealth

Aug 27 2014 @ 2:21pm
by Dish Staff

Earthquakes are much more deadly in developing countries:

Charles Kenny brings to light some startling statistics:

Fatalities after the Haiti quake were 20 times the Japanese fatalities from Kobe. The CATDAT database suggests that all of the top 10 most deadly earthquake-related events in the last 100 years, which killed between 52,000 and 283,000 each, happened in developing countries. Four of those top 10 have happened since 2000: the Indian Ocean tsunami, plus the earthquakes in Haiti; Sichuan, China; and Kashmir, Pakistan. The creators of the database estimate that the average number of deaths per earthquake in the most developed countries in their sample is less than 50—compared with more than 450 in the countries with the lowest income, education, and life expectancy.

One Perfect Thing, Ctd

Aug 27 2014 @ 2:00pm
by Dish Staff

Inspired by Bill McKibben’s musings on his beloved solo canoe, readers share stories of their prized possessions:

sat-2apr-11-15 I’ll pony up one: my Dad’s old 6″ Criterion Dynascope telescope. He bought it shortly after I was born and took it out all through my childhood. About the time he moved out of the old house, he gave it to me. It’s had 46 years of use – I’ve had to replace the focuser, rebuild the secondary mirror mount, and try to repair the clutch on the tracking drive. At the same time I also built a solar filter for it, as well as modified an old webcam to do low-level astrophotography (see right).

Technology has long since passed it by; these days you can get far lighter, easier-to-use scopes with computerized tracking, error-correcting drives and everything else. But the Dynascope is still optically sound, and if the astrophotos I’ve taken with it won’t compare to what you see in the back of Sky & Telescope, they’re mine. I’m hoping one of my kids will want it.


I’m sure I’ll not be the only one to say this, but the only truly prized possession I own (aside from my dog, which I don’t think counts) are my guitars. I’m a professional musician, but even if I weren’t, they’d be the only things that I own that I’d never want to part with.

The irony is that I’m quite sure someone else will e-mail about how he or she is finally cleaning out their storage unit and getting rid of the guitar they always thought they’d learn how to play. Your post immediately brought me back to this Onion classic: Local Self-Storage Facility A Museum Of Personal Failure. One of my all-time faves.


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by Dish Staff

Kent Sepkowitz argues that better public-health infrastructure could stop the outbreaks:

[W]hat this second 2014 Ebola epidemic likely represents yet again is the fact many countries simply do not have the health care dollars to deal with this sort (or just about any sort) of infectious disease. The infrastructure does not exist. And infrastructure is not just masks and gowns, but rules about when to use masks and gowns, trucks to bring new supplies of masks and gowns, a stock room guy to keep track of supplies and order when things are low, a supplier with supplies, highways that are paved and dependable so the masks and gowns can get from here to there, cash on hand to keep equipment moving and on and on—all of it is missing. …

The Ebola virus outbreaks of 2014 have shown us that Ebola, like HIV and many other infections with effective preventions, containments, and treatments, will remain uncontrolled as long as the world allows it. As such, it reminds us that health is a basic human right and its maintenance not just a public health imperative—but a moral one.

Clair MacDougall dissects Liberia’s ill-thought-out quarantine experiment:

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Ally With Assad? Ctd

Aug 27 2014 @ 1:25pm
by Dish Staff

Fred Hof points out that an American air campaign against ISIS in Syria would serve Bashar al-Assad’s material and propaganda interests whether or not we officially declare a partnership with him. He worries that we are walking into a trap:

How to avoid the ambush? Demonstrate real hostility toward Assad, whose removal for the sake of neutralizing ISIS is even more justified than the ouster of Iraq’s Nouri Al Maliki. If, in the course of U.S. anti-ISIS air operations over Syria, regime air defense radars lock onto U.S. aircraft, the relevant air defense site or sites should be engaged decisively. Robust and timely aid for Syrian nationalist rebels fighting both the regime and ISIS is a must. Relevant security assistance for a Syrian National Coalition trying to set up an alternate governing structure in non-Assad, non-ISIS Syria is mandatory. Building an all-Syrian national stabilization force in Turkey and Jordan for eventual anti-regime and anti-ISIS peace-enforcement is essential. American leadership in creating mechanisms that can one day bring Bashar Al Assad and his principal enforcers to trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity is vital. These are the steps that can put the lie to Assad’s libel.

Larison has another idea: don’t start the war at all:

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The Golden Era of Radio

Aug 27 2014 @ 1:04pm
by Bill McKibben


I may have mentioned that must of this week is being spent cleaning. That means I’ve had my earbuds in for several hours at a time. And that means, in turn, I’ve been reflecting on just what a golden age of radio, or at least of words spoken magically through the ether, we are lucky enough to live in.

Almost no one ever covers radio, though its reach is astonishing: All Things Considered beats the network tv newscasts (in more ways than one). But ATC and Morning Edition are smooth and dependable but rarely intriguing, provocative, sublime. Those adjectives are better reserved for the various podcasts that have grown up in the wake of This American Life. There’s only one Ira Glass, but there are other wonderful and quirky voices, many of them at the moment allied together in the Radiotopia collective, a kind of Justice League for smart documentarians and sound artists sponsored by the wonderful Public Radio Exchange, one more brainchild of Jay Allison who is the man behind much of the great radio that ever gets made. All seven of the podcasts in the series will draw you in and make you forget you’re washing windows; one of the newest and most intriguing voices belongs to Benjamen Walker, whose Theory of Everything evolved from a show he did on WFMU for years. He specializes in a kind of shaggy dog storytelling that lingers in one’s ear.

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Let Someone Else Defeat ISIS

Aug 27 2014 @ 12:45pm
by Jonah Shepp

Doug Bandow wants us to stand back and let regional actors take care of the Islamic State, which threatens them much more directly than it threatens us:

Rather than turn ISIL into a military priority and take America into war against the group, Washington should organize an Islamic coalition against the Islamic State. Even Gen. Dempsey called for a regional effort to “squeeze ISIS from multiple directions,” but that actually requires Washington to do less militarily. ISIL’s rise has set in motion the very forces necessary for its defeat. Rather than hinder creation of a coalition by taking charge militarily, Washington should encourage it by stepping back. The U.S. already has gone to war twice in Iraq. There’s no reason to believe that the third time will be the charm.

And indeed, that seems to be (NYT) what the administration is trying to do, although Syria is not on its list of potential coalition members:

As Mr. Obama considered new strikes, the White House began its diplomatic campaign to enlist allies and neighbors in the region to increase their support for Syria’s moderate opposition and, in some cases, to provide support for possible American military operations. The countries likely to be enlisted include Australia, Britain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, officials said.

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Death To Monarchs

Aug 27 2014 @ 12:18pm
by Sue Halpern

By all accounts, the 21st century has not been kind to monarch butterflies in North America. The orange-and-black creatures, who make a remarkable 3500 mile migration from Canada, through the United States, to the Transvolcanic Mountains of Mexico where they spend the winter, have seen a 90 percent decline in population. There are many causes, but all of them have to do in some way or other with habitat loss, both here and in Mexico. A particularly virulent culprit is the herbicide Roundup, which farmers spray on their fields to curtail weeds, and which has had the unintended consequence of wiping out the milkweed monarch need to survive. As Chris Clark explains it:

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by Dish Staff

Vauhini Vara contends that Burger King flirting with Canadian citizenship is about more than taxes:

If being based in Canada is more favorable, from a tax perspective, one might expect Tim Hortons to have a lower effective tax rate than Burger King. But, in fact, the individual companies have similar effective tax rates, of about twenty-seven per cent. Also, the tax inversions that the government is trying to avoid tend to involve large companies acquiring much smaller foreign ones, largely for the tax benefit of moving their headquarters. But while Americans might assume that Burger King is much larger than Tim Hortons, it’s not. Before news of the talks emerged, Tim Hortons was worth about eight billion dollars and Burger King around nine billion dollars; the combined company will do a significant portion of its business in Canada.

Jordan Weissmann differs:

[T]he idea that Burger King won’t really get any tax advantages out of relocating to Canada, where the corporate rate is about 15 percent compared with 35 percent in the U.S., seems transparently untrue.

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