Keep in mind the numbers.
January 25, 2015 - Terrorism is an unusual tactic. It doesn't work if we are not terrorized. Bouncing back, returning to normalcy, these are all ways of ensuring that terrorism does not have its desired effect. We've not always managed to do this. In recent months, we have massively overreacted to the ISIS execution videos, which is why they were produced in the first place. The Paris attacks were barbaric, as were those in Ottawa, Sydney, London, Madrid and Ft. Hood. But one way to gain perspective might be to keep in mind the numbers. (See ISIS vs ISIL: What's The Difference?)
According to the global terrorism database, in the 12 years between September 12th, 2001 and 2013, the number of Americans who have died on U.S. soil due to terrorism is 42.
Meanwhile in one year alone, 2011, the CDC reports that 32,351 Americans died because of firearms in one year. The number who died in car and truck accidents in that same year was 33,783. So keep calm and carry on is more than a slogan to wear on a T-shirt. -- Source
Speaking of numbers, check this out.
January 27, 2015 - Sat Nam. For over a decade, Americans have believed that far too many deaths occur as a result of medical errors in U.S. hospitals. A report issued by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 put the number at 98,000 premature deaths per year. Now that number seems to be rising. A new study published in the Journal of Patient Safety states that the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients is estimated at more than 400,000 per year. This number works out to be more than 1,096 deaths per day.
Question: Why is it that the American public, which gets so engaged when an airliner goes down with 200 to 300 fatalities in just one day, can accept an average of 1,096 preventable daily deaths as the result of medical errors without even a whimper let alone demands for an immediate reformation of the system? Go figure! --
Re: Speaking of numbers, check this out.
January 28, 2015 - Sat Nam. Medical errors? My son has a prescription, and I called about its renewal to the medical center. They prepared same and had it ready...for the entirely incorrect medication, which would have been consequential. (See Previous Post.)
Always read prescriptions carefully.* And understand what the medication is supposed to be. The medical provider we go to has cut staff considerably. And those remaining are vastly overworked.
This is an issue with everything. Understaffing to feed the upper levels more profits and bonuses. The concept of 1% getting everything filters down little.
If one goes back to recent or ancient Feudal systems the same is found. And the 1% has always had access to the best current medicine. And the serfs little or no access.
Those wanting the Piscean Age to continue are working so hard to make it so. Bringing back a Feudal system is one of the ways.
The current GOP simply wants the feudal system and will do anything to achieve it. With no conscience or consciousness. --
What America can learn from Singapore about racial integrations.
June 21, 2015 - In thinking about the United States’ enduring racial divide, I found myself intrigued by lessons from an unlikely source: Singapore. To help prepare for a trip there next week (as a guest of the National University of Singapore), I asked the country’s deputy prime minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, what he regarded as the country’s biggest success. I imagined that he would talk about economics, since the city-state’s per capita GDP now outstrips that of the United States, Japan and Hong Kong. He spoke instead about social harmony.
“We were a nation that was not meant to be,” Shanmugaratnam said. The swamp-ridden island, expelled from Malaysia in 1965, had a polyglot population of migrants with myriad religions, cultures and belief systems. “What’s interesting and unique about Singapore, more than economics, are our social strategies. We respected peoples’ differences yet melded a nation and made an advantage out of diversity,” he said in an interview, echoing remarks he made at the St. Gallen Symposium last month in Switzerland.
How did Singapore do it? By mandating ethnic diversity in all of its neighborhoods. More than 80 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing (all of it is well regarded, some of it very upmarket). Every block, precinct and enclave has ethnic quotas.
This is what people mean when they talk about Singapore’s “nanny state,” and the minister readily admits it. “The most intrusive social policy in Singapore has turned out to be the most important,” he says. “It turns out that when you ensure every neighborhood is mixed, people do everyday things together, become comfortable with each other, and most importantly, their kids go to the same schools. When the kids grow up together, they begin to share a future together.”
This belief was at the heart of many of the efforts of the U.S. federal government in the 1950s and 1960s to desegregate schools and integrate neighborhoods — through court orders, housing laws and executive action. Those efforts were largely abandoned by the 1980s and, since then, the data show a United States that remains strikingly segregated.
In Boston, 43.5 percent of the White population lives in areas that are at least 90 percent White and have a median income that is four times the poverty level, University of Minnesota researchers found. In St. Louis, that share of the White population is 54.4 percent. (Both figures come from an April article in the Atlantic.) This residential segregation has translated into unequal access to security, basic health care and, crucially, education.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court ordered school desegregation 61 years ago, schools have become more homogenous in the past two decades. An investigation by ProPublica found that the number of schools that were less than 1 percent White grew from 2,762 in 1988 to 6,727 in 2011. A UCLA study last year described what a classroom looks like for the typical White student in the United States. Of 30 students, 22 are White, two are Black, four Latino, one Asian and one “Other.”
The study also pointed out that many Black and Latino students “face almost total isolation not only from White and Asian students but also from middle-class peers as well.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan says that today “only 14 percent of White students attend schools that you could consider multicultural.”
These findings would not surprise Singaporeans. “The natural workings of society rarely lead to diverse and integrated communities, not in Singapore nor anywhere else,” Shanmugaratnam said. “They more likely lead to mistrust, self-segregation and even bigotry — which we see in abundance in so many countries today.”
He pointed out that in Britain, half the Muslim population lives in the bottom 10 percent of its neighborhoods (by income). “Did that happen by chance?” he asks. “Let’s be honest. Human beings aren’t perfect. Everyone has biases, a liking for some and distrust of others. But that’s why there is a role for government.”
Singapore is an unusual case. It is a small city-state. It has its critics, who point to a quasi-authoritarian system, one that impedes free expression and makes opposition parties face severe handicaps. Singapore can do things Western democracies cannot. It also has had its own racial problems. All that said, I believe that Singapore is an example of a diverse society that has been able to live in harmony and that we could learn something from. (To be sure, Singapore could learn some lessons from Western democracies as well.)
“You cannot simply assume that the natural workings of the market or of society will produce social harmony or equal opportunity. They won’t,” Shanmugaratnam said. “Government — an elected government — has a role to play. And it’s not about speeches and symbols. It’s about specific mechanisms and programs to achieve the outcomes we all seek.”
Something to consider as the United States, in the wake of the tragedy in South Carolina, debates flags and symbols. --
Anti-Muslim rhetoric isn't brave.
December 6, 2015 - The most recent act of horrific violence in the United States — in San Bernardino, Calif. — was reportedly perpetrated by a Muslim man and woman. There are about 3 million Muslims in the United States, almost all of whom are law-abiding citizens. How should they react to the actions of the couple who killed 14 people on Wednesday?
The most commonly heard response is that Muslims must immediately and loudly condemn these acts of barbarity. But Dalia Mogahed (recommended viewing), a Muslim American leader, argues eloquently that this is unfair. She made her case to NBC’s Chuck Todd.
"... When you look at the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States,
Muslims face a double standard, but I understand why. Muslim terrorists don’t just happen to be Muslim. They claim to be motivated by religion, cite religious justifications for their actions and tell their fellow Muslims to follow in their bloody path. There are groups around the world spreading this religiously infused ideology and trying to seduce Muslims to become terrorists. In these circumstances, it is important for the majority of Muslims who profoundly disagree with jihad to speak up.
But it is also important to remember that there are 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet. If you took the total number of deaths from terrorism last year — about 30,000 — and assumed that 50 people were involved in planning each one (a vastly exaggerated estimate), it would still add up to less than 0.1 percent of the world’s Muslims.
The writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a tough critic of Islam. She divides the Muslim world into two groups: Mecca Muslims and Medina Muslims. (The Koranic revelations to Muhammad made in Mecca are mostly about brotherhood and love; the ones in Medina have the fire and brimstone.) She estimates that 3 percent of the worldwide community are radical Medina Muslims, the other 97 percent being mainstream Mecca Muslims. Now, 3 percent works out to a large number, 48 million, and that’s why we spend lots of time, money and effort dealing with the threats that might emanate from them. But that still leaves the other 97 percent — the more than 1.55 billion — who are not jihadists. They may be reactionary and backward in many ways. But that is not the same as being terrorists.
While I believe that Muslims do bear a responsibility to speak up, non-Muslims also have a responsibility not to make assumptions about them based on such a small minority. Individuals should be judged as individuals and not placed under suspicion for some “group characteristic.” It is dehumanizing and un-American to do otherwise.
It also misunderstands how religion works in people’s lives. Imagine a Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York. He has not, in any meaningful sense, chosen to be Muslim. He was born into a religion, grew up with it, and like hundreds of millions of people around the world in every religion, follows it out of a mixture of faith, respect for his parents and family, camaraderie with his community and inertia. His knowledge of the sacred texts is limited. He is trying to make a living and provide for his family. For him, Islam provides identity and psychological support in a hard life. This is what religion looks like for the vast majority of Muslims.
But increasingly, Americans seem to view Muslims as actively propagating a dangerous ideology, like communist activists. It’s not just Donald Trump. Republican candidates are vying with each other to make insinuations and declarations about Islam and all Muslims. And it’s not just on the right. The television personality and outspoken liberal Bill Maher made the expansive generalization recently that “If you are in this religion, you probably do have values that are at odds [with American values].”
What is most bizarre is to hear this anti-Muslim rhetoric described as brave truth-telling. Trump insists that he will not be silenced on this issue. Chris Christie says that he will not follow a “politically correct” national security policy. They are simply feeding a prejudice. The reality is that Muslims are today the most despised minority in America. Their faith is constantly criticized, and they face insults, discrimination and a dramatic rise in acts of violence against them, as Max Fisher of Vox has detailed superbly. And the leading Republican candidate has flirted with the idea of registering Muslims, a form of collective punishment that has not been seen since the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s.
This is the first time that I can recall watching politicians pander to mobs — and then congratulate themselves for their political courage. -- Source.
See More Fareed Zakaria.
I am a Muslim.
December 13, 2015 - I think of myself first and foremost as an American. I’m proud of that identity because as an immigrant, it came to me through deep conviction and hard work, not the accident of birth. I also think of myself as a husband, father, guy from India, journalist, New Yorker and (on my good days) an intellectual. But in today’s political climate, I must embrace another identity. I am a Muslim.
I am not a practicing Muslim. The last time I was in a mosque, except as a tourist, was decades ago. My wife is Christian, and we have not raised our children as Muslims. My views on faith are complicated -- somewhere between deism and agnosticism. I am completely secular in my outlook. But as I watch the way in which Republican candidates are dividing Americans, I realize that it’s important to acknowledge the religion into which I was born.
And yet, that identity doesn’t fully represent me or my views. I am appalled by Donald Trump’s bigotry and demagoguery not because I am a Muslim but because I am an American.
In his diaries from the 1930s, Victor Klemperer describes how he, a secular, thoroughly assimilated German Jew, despised Hitler. But he tried to convince people that he did so as a German; that it was his German identity that made him see Nazism as a travesty. In the end, alas, he was seen solely as a Jew.
This is the real danger of Trump’s rhetoric: It forces people who want to assimilate, who see themselves as having multiple identities, into a single box. The effects of his rhetoric have already poisoned the atmosphere. Muslim Americans are more fearful and will isolate themselves more. The broader community will know them less and trust them less. A downward spiral of segregation will set in. (See Tribalism.)
The tragedy is that, unlike in Europe, Muslims in the United States are by and large well-assimilated. I remember talking to a Moroccan immigrant in Norway last year who had a brother in New York. I asked him how their experiences differed. He said, “Over here, I’ll always be a Muslim, or a Moroccan, but my brother is already an American.”
In an essay in Foreign Affairs, British writer Kenan Malik points out that in France, in the 1960s and ’70s, immigrants from North Africa were not seen as or called Muslims. They were described as North Africans or Arabs. But that changed in recent decades. He quotes a filmmaker who says, “What, in today’s France, unites the pious Algerian retired worker, the atheist French-Mauritanian director that I am, the Fulani Sufi bank employee from Mantes-la-Jolie, the social worker from Burgundy who has converted to Islam, and the agnostic male nurse who has never set foot in his grandparents’ home in Oujda?” His answer: “We live within a society which thinks of us as Muslims.”
Once you start labeling an entire people by characteristics such as race and religion, and then see the whole group as suspect, tensions will build. In a poignant article on Muslim American soldiers, The Post interviewed Marine Gunnery Sgt. Emir Hadzic, a refugee from Bosnia, who explained how the brutal civil war between religious communities began in the Balkans in the 1990s. “That’s what’s scary with [the] things that [Donald Trump is] saying,” Hadzic said. “I know how things work when you start whipping up mistrust between your neighbors and friends... I’ve seen them turn on each other.”
I remain an optimist. Trump has taken the country by surprise. People don’t quite know how to respond to the vague, unworkable proposals (“We have to do something!”), the phony statistics, the dark insinuations of conspiracies (“There’s something we don’t know,” he says, about President Obama) and the naked appeals to peoples’ prejudices.
But this is not the 1930s. People from all sides of the spectrum are condemning Trump -- though there are several Trump-Lites among the Republican candidates. The country will not stay terrified. Even after San Bernardino, the number of Americans killed by Islamist terrorists on U.S. soil in the 14 years since 9/11 is 45 -- an average of about three people a year. The number killed in gun homicides this year alone will be about 11,000.
In the end, the United States will reject this fear-mongering and demagoguery, as it has in the past. But we are going through an important test of political and moral character. I hope decades from now, people will look back and ask, “What did you do when Donald Trump proposed religious tests in America?”-- Source.
not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe
Bile, venom and lies: How I was trolled on the Internet.
January 14, 2016 - Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are widely used to share facts, ideas and opinions — and misinformation, rumors and lies.
Thomas Jefferson often argued that an educated public was crucial for the survival of self-government. We now live in an age in which that education takes place mostly through relatively new platforms. Social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. — are the main mechanisms by which people receive and share facts, ideas and opinions. But what if they encourage misinformation, rumors and lies?
In a comprehensive new study of Facebook that analyzed posts made between 2010 and 2014, a group of scholars found that people mainly shared information that confirmed their prejudices, paying little attention to facts and veracity. (Hat tip to Cass Sunstein, the leading expert on this topic.)
The result, the report says, is the “proliferation of biased narratives fomented by unsubstantiated rumors, mistrust and paranoia.” The authors specifically studied trolling — the creation of highly provocative, often false information, with the hope of spreading it widely. The report says that “many mechanisms cause false information to gain acceptance, which in turn generate false beliefs that, once adopted by an individual, are highly resistant to correction.”
As it happens, in recent weeks I was the target of a trolling campaign and saw exactly how it works. It started when an obscure website published a post titled, “CNN host Fareed Zakaria calls for jihad rape of white women.” The story claimed that in my “private blog” I had urged the use of American women as “sex slaves” to depopulate the white race. The post further claimed that on my Twitter account, I had written the following line: “Every death of a white person brings tears of joy to my eyes.”
Disgusting. So much so that the item would collapse from its own weightlessness, right? Wrong. Here is what happened next: Hundreds of people began linking to it, tweeting and retweeting it, and adding their comments, which are too vulgar or racist to repeat. A few ultra-right-wing websites reprinted the story as fact. With each new cycle, the levels of hysteria rose, and people started demanding that I be fired, deported or killed. For a few days, the digital intimidation veered out into the real world. Some people called my house late one night and woke up and threatened my daughters, who are 7 and 12.
It would have taken a minute to click on the link and see that the original post was on a fake news site, one that claims to be satirical (though not very prominently). It would have taken simple common sense to realize the absurdity of the charge. But none of this mattered. The people spreading this story were not interested in the facts; they were interested in feeding prejudice. The original story was cleverly written to provide conspiracy theorists with enough ammunition to ignore evidence. It claimed that I had taken down the post after a few hours when I realized it “receive[d] negative attention.” So, when the occasional debunker would point out that there was no evidence of the post anywhere, it made little difference. When confronted with evidence that the story was utterly false, it only convinced many that there was a conspiracy and coverup.
In my own experience, conversations on Facebook are somewhat more civil, because people generally have to reveal their identities. But on Twitter and in other places — the online comments section of The Post, for example — people can be anonymous or have pseudonyms. And that is where bile and venom flow freely. The Post’s Dana Milbank recently quoted a tweet about a column of his that said, “Let’s not mince words: Milbank is an anti-white parasite and a bigoted kike supremacist.” The comments about me were often nastier.
Elizabeth Kolbert, writing in the New Yorker, recalled an experiment performed by two psychologists in 1970. They divided students into two groups based on their answers to a questionnaire: high prejudice and low prejudice. Each group was told to discuss controversial issues such as school busing and integrated housing. Then the questions were asked again. “The surveys revealed a striking pattern,” Kolbert noted. “Simply by talking to one another, the bigoted students had become more bigoted and the tolerant more tolerant.” This “group polarization” is now taking place at hyper speed, around the world. It is how radicalization happens and extremism spreads.
I love social media. But somehow we have to help create better mechanisms in it to distinguish between fact and falsehood. No matter how passionate people are, no matter how cleverly they can blog or tweet or troll, no matter how viral things get, lies are still lies. -- Source.
Yes, America is being changed — but by whom?
February 14, 2016 -- It is the line that might have sunk a presidential campaign. “[Barack Obama] knows exactly what he’s doing,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said at Saturday’s debate (again and again and again). “[He] is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world.” Rubio’s sin is said to be stylistic. He repeated the phrasing almost robotically. But what about the substance of what he said?
The charge that President Obama is attempting to change America fundamentally is a staple of right-wing talk shows. As Paul Waldman points out, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others routinely assert that Obama’s policies are intentionally designed to transform the United States and dull its distinctive edge. Rubio warns that this might be our last chance. Were Obama’s policies to be continued, he suggests, America would become just another country.
This rhetoric does raise an important question. What makes the United States exceptional? All American politicians — including Obama — use that word. Most genuflect before it. But few actually define it.
Today, American exceptionalism is often seen as economic. Many conservatives say that Obamacare, energy policy and the Dodd-Frank financial regulations have violated a core difference between the United States and the rest of the world by expanding the role of the state in the economy.
But how limited is American government? The conservative Heritage Foundation publishes an annual “index of economic freedom” that ranks countries based on their degree of economic freedom (from government). America comes in 11th, behind Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Chile, Switzerland and Singapore. That doesn’t seem very exceptional.
In fact, the American welfare state is quite large but has been enacted in complex ways — partly to hide that reality. Once you add in “tax expenditures” — such as the exemption for employer-based health care — the size of the federal government rises by a full 4 percent of gross domestic product, according to one estimate. And once you add in “private social spending,” a term scholars use to include spending such as that on health, some of which is mandated and regulated by law, the size of America’s social expenditures jumps up to No. 2 among all rich countries in the world, exceeded only by that of France, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports.
Most important, the size of the United States’ government cannot be what has made America exceptional. In the 19th century, European governments also had limited “night-watchman” states — in fact, many even smaller than America’s. The United States, after all, pioneered state-funded secondary education for all. But from the beginning, America was exceptional. So it was obviously about something other than tax policy.
What about freedom? Certainly liberty was important, but the French Revolution was fueled by a similar idea — though never implemented successfully. And America’s ideas about liberty were always seen as a work in progress, since the country denied that liberty to a substantial section of the population. Remember that in 1860, the United States was unusual, if not exceptional, among Western nations in the widespread prevalence of slavery.
What, then, made America truly exceptional, from the start? It was a country founded not on race, ethnicity or religion but on ideas. And, crucially, those ideas were open to all. This openness to people, ideas, cultures and religions resulted in the creation of a new person — the American. The great historian Gordon Wood explains his view of American exceptionalism: “In an important sense, we have never been a nation in any traditional meaning of the term... We Americans do not have a nationality the way other peoples do... which of course is why we can absorb immigrants more easily than they can.”
Other countries have small states and low taxes, and there are many liberal democracies, even republics. But no other country from the outset believed in the idea of openness and the mixture of people. The United States is a nation founded on diversity — of race, religion, national origin.
There are efforts to change America. There are plans to introduce religious and ethnic tests to bar immigrants and even visitors, or to track immigrants and visitors once they arrive. There have been calls to deport people, even American citizens. There are proposals to monitor houses of worship.
These ideas would fundamentally change America, tearing at its founding DNA. It would make it much more like the rest of the world, becoming one more nation in which certain ethnic groups and religions were privileged and others were outsiders, a country in which diversity was a threat to national character and unity rather than a strength.
And who is it proposing these changes? The last time I checked, it was not Barack Obama. --
My take on Donald J. Trump
November 6, 2016 - But first, here's my take. Over the course of this campaign, I've heard from many people who've cheered my opposition to Donald Trump. But there are others who have objected, arguing that I was being biased, that Hillary Clinton had many flaws as well. So let me try to explain one last time why Donald Trump is worth special attention.
I'm not a highly partisan person. I have views that are left of center, but others that are conservative. I came to this country when Ronald Reagan was president and I admired him. I think well of many Republican politicians, including the last two GOP presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Both of whom are honorable men and would've been good presidents.
Donald Trump is different. Not just because he is obnoxious, tacky and vulgar or that his business dealings show him to be a scam artist, he is different because of what he believes. The simplest way to understand Trump's core beliefs is to look at his words and actions not just today but well before.
You see politicians pander the voters and Trump's views on, say, social security and medicare, which he promises not to touch or taxes, which he promises to cut, seem pretty insincere; they're reflections of what he thinks his supporters want to hear. But he does have deeper beliefs, values and instincts.
The first one that stands out is race. Donald Trump has consistently expressed himself in word and deed in ways that can only be described as racist. In his earliest years as a developer, he was sued by the justice department for allegedly denying housing to qualified black people.
In the case of the central park five, Trump jumped into the public arena, taking out full-page ads assailing the accused black teenagers and demanding the return of the death penalty. Most strikingly, he refused to back down when DNA evidence had clearly exonerated the five men and New York City was forced to pay $41 million in damages for wrongfully imprisoning them for up to 13 years.
Trump seems to believe deeply in ethnic stereotypes. He boasts of his own blood line and compares it to breeding race horses. In a 1991 book, one of his associated described him as horrified to see African-Americans in his accounting department at two of his hotels saying, "Black guys counting my money? I hate it. The only kinds of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yamakas every day."
Trump acknowledged the veracity of these comments in a later Playboy interview before walking it back years later in a 1999 NBC interview calling it all nonsense. Trump has also always been a protectionist. In the 1980s, he was sure that the Japanese were about to take over the world and the only solution was tariffs and trade wars.
He doesn't seem to have noticed that the future he predicted never happened. Undeterred, he has now focused his wrath on China just as that economy has begun to slow down and on Mexico, a country so small that its affect on the U.S. economy is minimal. The common thread is that Trump is quick to tell Americans facing real economic hardship that they should blame their problems on foreigners.
If there is one view that Trump has expressed consistently, openly and with relish, it is that women exist fundamentally as objects for man's pleasure. He has said and done dozens of things over 30 years that confirm this demeaning view of women. In interviews with Howard Stern, during his ownership of the Miss Universe Pageant, when describing working women and when debating female candidates like Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton. Women, he once said to New York Magazine, you have to treat them like shit.
Finally, Donald Trump has expressed impatience and contempt for many of the foundations of liberal democracy. He has repeatedly promised to change laws to make it easier to punish journalists who offend him. He has threatened people who contributed to his Republican primary opponents, implying that he would have the government look into their business affairs.
He has proposed a number of policies that are illiberal, unconstitutional or even war crimes such as banning all Muslims from entering America, waterboarding suspected terrorists and killing their families. He has compared his ideas to the internment of Japanese- Americans during World War II implying that he approved of that measure. And he has threatened to jail his opponent if elected. --
See More Fareed Zakaria.
Points To Ponder
opaque, exclusive, monochromatic, and eventually tribal-like."
"As humanity moves into the Age of Space, how will we resonate with
"In the first 24 hours following the attacks on Paris, there were hundreds of thousands of celebratory tweets from supporters of ISIS… the West had no organized response."
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a
More Web sites by