The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama’s Presidency

The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama’s Presidency – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic:

On Friday, President Obama spoke to us about surveillance as though we were precocious children. He proceeded as if widespread objections to his policies can be dispatched like a parent answers an eight-year-old who has formally protested her bedtime. He is so proud that we’ve matured enough to take an interest in our civil liberties! Why, he used to think just like us when he was younger, and promises to consider our arguments. But some decisions just have to be made by the grownups. Do we know how much he loves us? Can we even imagine how awful he would feel if anything bad ever happened while it was still his job to ensure our safety? *

By observing Obama’s condescension, I don’t mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions. 

They’re all there.

[Are any of us really shocked? This has been going on since he got into office. Was this the change you sought?]

Riding lessons for U.S. cities from one of Europe’s bike capitals

Riding lessons for U.S. cities from one of Europe’s bike capitals:

And in fact, when asked why they bike rather than drive, the great majority of Copenhageners respond that it’s simply the quickest, most convenient way to get around. Health and economic concerns are factors, too. Protecting the environment? Hardly a blip on their radar:

Bicycle chart

City of Copenhagen

(Copenhagen city officials have worked hard to make biking easy. For details on their methods, which one planner described as “the carrot, the whip, and the tambourine,” check out part 2 in this series.)

[Is there a greater force in the world than self interest?]

Source: Grist Magazine

No kidding: “Reproductive success” might mean not reproducing

No kidding: “Reproductive success” might mean not reproducing:

Just take a look at the mark that we are leaving upon the world. In many regions, major rivers are being reduced to a trickle by the time they reach the sea. Lakes are shrinking and water tables are falling at a precipitous rate. Tropical forests are being hacked down to satisfy our demand for hardwoods and palm oil. Ocean fisheries are collapsing as a result of overfishing. We are rapidly exhausting our limited inheritance of metal and minerals. Vital bio-habitats, including coral reefs and wetlands, are disappearing at a fearsome rate. Scientists warn that human activity is triggering the “sixth mass extinction” in the history of the world. Within the lifetimes of children being born today, humanity will likely preside over the virtual extinction in the wild of lions, tigers, elephants, and rhinos. And then there’s the question of what we humans are doing to alter the planet’s climate and the impact that will have on the future of all life, including human existence. That’s not my idea of reproductive success.

[There are times of difficulty ahead.]

Source: Grist Magazine