The New Yorker’s coverage of Sandy the ‘super-storm’, several concise reports

‘New York City awoke to a disaster area…the morning after Sandy landed on the eastern seaboard’ of the United States. Read this sensitive and elegant reportage of the effects and the response — led by the magazine’s editor, David Remnick:

‘Some Are More Unequal Than Others’, Joseph E Stiglitz in NYT

‘Romney and Ryan have tried a hard tack to the center in their rhetoric in recent weeks. But let no one be deceived: their tax policies will lead to even more inequality at the top, the continued hollowing out of the middle, and more poverty at the bottom. Worst of all, they will lead to a more divided society that endangers our future — our economy, our democracy and our sense of identity as a nation.’

The Island Where People Forget to Die –

Arcadia or Shangri-la? An interesting personal story; about the rest, trust but verify:

‘I called Moraitis a few weeks ago from my home in Minneapolis…He picked up the phone in the same whitewashed house that he’d moved into 35 years ago. It was late afternoon in Ikaria. He had worked in his vineyard that morning and just awakened from a nap…I had one last question for him. How does he think he recovered from lung cancer?

‘“It just went away,” he said. “I actually went back to America about 25 years after moving here to see if the doctors could explain it to me.”

‘I had heard this part of the story before. It had become a piece of the folklore of Ikaria, proof of its exceptional way of life. Still, I asked him, “What happened?”

‘“My doctors were all dead.”’

‘The Choice’, The New Yorker endorses President Barack Obama

Surprisingly, the Editors of The New Yorker find themselves ‘in broad [and fulsome] agreement with his policy directions’, seeing in him ‘what is absent in Mitt Romney — a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity’. Most progressive readers and admirers of this splendid magazine would not go along with this certification of President Barack Obama’s domestic and international policy directions and his ‘deep sense of fairness’. But compared with the alternative on offer, The New Yorker’s endorsement is not surprising: ‘The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work. The re-election of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency.’

Andrew Strauss: ‘Kevin Pietersen’s apology seemed contrite and sincere’ | The Guardian

‘If they can make it work then obviously England will be a better side with KP in it because he’s an outstanding player. But if, behind the scenes, things are difficult and resentment is harboured, and if KP is not fully committed to England, there are going to be problems.’

What’s wrong with putting a price on nature? | Environment |

What’s wrong with putting a price on nature? | Environment |

“Ecosystem services is not exactly a phrase to stir the human imagination. But over the past few years, it has managed to dazzle both diehard conservationists and bottom-line business types as the best answer to global environmental decline……..

But the rising tide of enthusiasm for PES (or payment for ecosystem services) is now also eliciting alarm and criticism. The rhetoric is at times heated, particularly in Britain, where a government plan to sell off national forests had to be abandoned in the face of fierce public opposition. ….

Sian Sullivan, a University of London anthropologist, warns….we are seeing “a major new wave of capture and enclosure of Nature by capital.”

An excellent, balanced piece from the Guardian Environment Network.

In contrast, a superficial editorial from the Hindu:

The Economics of Nature

‘Defeat Romney, Without Illusions About Obama’, Daniel Ellsberg

‘Daniel Ellsberg is a former State and Defense Department official who has been arrested for acts of non-violent civil disobedience over eighty times, initially for copying and releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers, for which he faced 115 years in prison. Living in a non-swing state, he does not intend to vote for President Obama.’ Here, agreeing with the approach of Noam Chomsky, this hero of our times provides principled and well-reasoned guidance on how progressives should appreciate the big issues at stake, and exercise their voting choice, on November 6, 2012.–defeat-romney-without-illusions-about-obama

Addressing Inequalities – A Global Discussion

UNWomen and UNICEF have initiated a global online discussion on inequalities. The current discussion is on gender inequality and future topics include violence against women, disability, indigenous peoples, etc.

Via Saraswathi Menon of UNWomen

‘Dead or Alive’, Steve Coll reflects on the moral of a firsthand account of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, New York Review of Books

‘No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden’, Mark Owen (pseudonym for Matt Bissonnette, a recently retired SEAL who was a team leader on the Abbottabad raid), with Kevin Maurer, Dutton, 316 pp., $26.95

‘When he ordered the [Navy Seals] mission that killed bin Laden [in Abottabad in the early hours of May 2, 2011]], Obama slew a dragon at once dangerous and shrouded by myth…Operation Neptune Spear succeeded on its own terms but it has exposed how far the grinding machinery of American counterterrorism operations has drifted from the ideals Obama enunciated in his National Archives speech…the Obama administration’s terrorist-targeting and detention system is heavily biased toward killing, inconsonant with constitutional and democratic principles, and unsustainable.’

‘Debating Over Last Term, Candidates Say Little of Next’, news analysis,

Comment: But what can the US presidential and vice-presidential contestants say about the next term when they and many voters know that most poll promises are there not to be kept?

Jill Abramson, Executive Editor, Answers Questions –

Here is a particularly worthwhile read, interesting responses from the New York Times’s first woman Editor to thoughtful questions from well-informed readers. A good practice that editors of serious newspapers round the world should emulate in this age of digital journalism:

In praise of Hilary Mantel, selected links

‘You wait 20 years for a Booker prize and then two come along at once’ — Hilary Mantel, joking after becoming the first writer to win the Man Booker prize in two successive years. It certainly looked like a one horse race in literary fiction.

‘Hilary Mantel wins Man Booker prize for second time’, Guardian:

Video: The author on winning once again and how she sees the imagination and writing of Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, and the book that will complete the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light:

‘The latest in a brilliant catalogue’, Justine Jordan in Guardian:

Podcast, Guardian:

‘The Dead Are Real: Hilary Mantel’s imagination’, Larissa MacFarquhar in New Yorker:

‘Tudor Tales: Hilary Mantel reconsiders the life of Thomas Cromwell’, Joan Acocella in New Yorker on Wolf Hall:

‘On your way, phantom’, Colin Burrow in London Review of Books:

Booker prize links:

‘Senior official probing Vadra-DLF land deal shunted out’ in Haryana, from The Hindu’s national bureau, October 16, 2012

What was the nature of the land deals Robert Vadra struck with DLF? Read this breakthrough in the investigation and expose of an indefensible nexus, including how ‘hours after Haryana’s top land records officer starts probe into Vadra’s dealings, he…[was] transferred’. Can the Congress party and the central and Haryana governments maintain the stance that this was a private business matter that does not warrant an official investigation under the law of the land?

pdf iconVadra-DLF_land_deal_TH_16-10-2012.php.pdf

pdf iconVadra-DLF_land_deal_TH_16-10-2012_contd.php.pdf

‘Death by Ideology’, Paul Krugman in NYT

The essence of the Romney-Ryan plan, which springs from their ideology, is that ‘they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income’:

Want to Ruin Teaching? Give Ratings –

Teachers must be held accountable but how? The answer to this question is crucial, especially in public education. Deborah Kenny, the chief executive and founding principal of Harlem Village Academies, argues here that ‘the solution being considered by many [US] states — having the government evaluate individual teachers — is a terrible idea that undermines principals and is demeaning to teachers’. Among other things, bureaucratic evaluation systems will ‘discourage the smartest, most talented people from entering the profession’.