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Showing posts from 2012

After Sandy Hook

I have never been a gun enthusiast.I have difficulty thinking of the circumstances that would prompt me to have a gun in my home.Even when I was in the Marine Corps I thought of firearms as expensive, pain-in-the-ass-to-maintain tools.But I understand my friends who are gun enthusiasts.I get it.Anyone who’s ever nestled his cheek against a high powered rifle or felt the satisfying metallic clack-clack of pulling back a slide gets it.You don’t have to be a carpenter to appreciate a good power drill.But let’s stop pretending that this – a concrete appreciation for firearms – is what many on the right are talking about when they talk about gun rights in the United States.
When describing gun rights many on the right use phrases that conjure up images of hardy pioneers, staring through musket-sites at wolves threatening the homestead.Phrases like “rugged individualism” or “self-determination.”These phrases don’t describe gun rights; they describe an idea of what it means to be American. A…

World Policy Blog: 2011-2012 Posts

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Mogadishu 2012 - Progress

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Thought Crime

A year ago today a Norwegian man named Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Sweden.  The attack was well planned, involving the bombing of several government buildings, followed by a machine gun massacre on Utoya Island, where members of the Swedish Labor party’s youth league were meeting. 
Breivik published his 1,500 page manifesto on the internet prior to the massacre.  He stands accused of many things, but not a lack of canny.  Breivik knew that the atrocity would give him a platform.  Out of (admittedly morbid) curiosity I read a few snippets of the manifesto.  What compels a human being to do such a thing?  As it turns out, Breivik is a crazed Islamaphobe who sees himself as a crusader against the dark skinned hordes banging at Europe’s gates.  The Swedish Labor party’s youth league was the perfect target: not only is it avowedly anti-racist, many of its members are ethnic minorities. 
A couple days ago in Colorado we had our own massacre.  Americans are more used to this type …

The View from the Bubble

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I was first introduced to Soweto by Eddie Grant: 
While every mother in the black Soweto fears the killing of another son.   
I was kid in the 1980’s, so for me Gimme Hope, Johannawas just a fun tune with a catchy chorus.  It was jarring when, as a teenager, I realized that the song is about apartheid and that Soweto is a Southern African slum.  Kind of like the feeling I have when re-watching a movie I liked as a kid only to realize I had no idea what was going on the first time around. 
Johannesburg’s Soweto holds the dubious distinction of being Africa’s largest slum.  It is generally agreed that Nairobi’s Kibera district is number two.  As an expatriate, you can live in Nairobi for years without visiting the place.  Kibera wasn’t always a slum.  The land was originally awarded to Nubian soldiers of the King’s African Rifles for their loyal service to the British crown in the early twentieth century. Today almost all of Kenya’s tribes are represented there, making it a hotbed for…

Slaves, Obey Your Masters

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 On March 5th American Atheists Inc. started running this billboard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.The announcement on the organization’s Facebook page read in part, The target audience of our billboard is closeted atheists who support the year of the bible.The fastest way for a Christian to become an Atheist is to read the bible.We want them to recognize that they see the application of the verse and how awful the bible is and come out of the closet.We especially want the in-the-pew atheist to begin to question why they are continuing the charade of going to church and giving their money in coercion of the bible. I scrolled down the comments on the post.There were arguments about whether the book of Colossians was written in the Bronze or Iron Age, about the “context” of the verse, about misinterpretation from the original Greek.Nothing unexpected. More interesting were the complaints about the jarring image, about the need to tread carefully on the subject of slavery, about the risk of …

The Stench

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The first time you stand post in civilian clothes you feel pretty cool. The curly radio wire running from your ear down your suit coat looks tough.  The weapon on your hip feels reassuring.  You talk into your cuff – even if you have nothing worthwhile to say.  You are Secret Agent Man.  This lasts about five minutes. 
Then your collar starts to itch.  So does the radio wire running down your back.  And the weapon dragging down your belt just feels heavy. 
How much longer is this interview going to last anyway?    
When the embassy had a “walk-in” one of the Marines was called in, required to put on a shirt and tie, holster his weapon on his belt, button up his sports coat and stand outside the room while an “other government agency” (OGA) officer interviewed the person.  A “walk-in” is someone who enters a U.S. Embassy and asks to speak to a government official.  I would guess that some 98.5% of these people are insane.  The rest are folks that want to spy for the U.S. government or ha…