I think this lesson about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is a good one. Having absolutely no idea what your potential adversary is up to for such a long time is a very bad place to be.
With reinforced cockpit doors, air marshals, hopefully good scanning to prevent weapons on airplanes and a general agreement that nobody is going to be allowed to ever hijack a plane again even if they do assault or kill people or scream about having a bomb the pilot is not going to relinquish control of the plane.... having no-fly lists does now seem superfluous and fundamentally the wrong approach to take.
That said, airlines are still private businesses serving the public and if they are given information that you will potentially be disruptive, then it should be within their right to deny you passage on their aircraft for whatever reason as long as that reason isn't discriminatory using constitutionally protected criteria such as race, or political affiliation, or gender or such. In the same way that a restaurant can refuse to serve someone because of their past behavior. The problem now is that that choice is being made for them.
Regardless, the no-fly list is a determination by someone that you have met some criteria to be kept off of planes, so if we are to remain a nation of laws then people need to be able to effectively challenge that in court. And that means confronting your accuser and challenging all the evidence used in that determination. Otherwise, if we are talking about classified information, then what we should be talking about is surveillance that stays in the realm of surveillance.
. How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?
Why are we imposing sanctions on North Korea at all? The fact that they oppress their own people is not particularly different than many US allies or at least states we do business with and have bases in. Sure, I want North Korea to follow the East Germany model and get absorbed by South Korea. But sanctions seem like a stupid and ineffective way to do it. All it is doing is causing North Koreans to become really good at smuggling and running drugs to get foreign currency. And rightly they see trade sanctions as an act of war.
It would frustrate the hell out of china if we embraced trade with North Korea and opened up relations, especially with a view to unification.
Second, as other posters have pointed out, Earth Hour isn't meant to actually save any energy, it's to build public awareness
Build awareness of what? I think the idea has completely failed if the objective wasn't to try and get people to save electricity. I certainly thought that was the goal of Earth Hour. As a vehicle to build public awareness it isn't effective if the underlying act is found to be merely symbolic of saving electricity without actually reducing consumption of fossil fuels. Might as well streak naked through Central Park for whatever it is you are trying to promote.
Best to come up with a better idea. Maybe everyone can buy a mink coat and then have a mass throwaway to protest animal cruelty.
You lost me at "exposes westerners to the daily hardship..."
That is like eating a taco from the Taco Bell drive thru and saying you feel the pain of the drug war in Mexico just because you have some gas.
I consider myself an environmentalist. But I agree with much of that criticism of main stream environmentalism.
I am on the pro nuclear, pro fracking let's engineer our way out of the worst effects of extreme Global Warming side of the environmentalism. While many of my environmentalist friends are looking towards an agrarian utopian vision of the past to solve all our problems, one that would be a complete Maoist nightmare to try and implement on a wide scale with the size of our existing population and reliance on technology.
Oh and LED bulbs are way better than CFLs.
Problem as I see it is that the terms "conspiracy theory" and "conspiracy theorists" are used to pejoratively label people that are against things that aren't actually conspiracies, but are completely out in the open as stated policy objectives of different groups and individuals. The war examples you cite were pretty much out in the open as plausible, yet flimsy pretexts for war. It was pretty blatant to all but the casual observer, the only problem being that most people are casual observers and the mere possibility that Saddam Hussein might still have some chemical weapons around in some storage place was all the justification they needed for going after Saddam Hussein... which of course wasn't a bad objective, just once people spent so much time focusing on WMD more time was spent planning for finding WMD than for how to secure the country after a victory.
Take the whole "NAFTA superhighway" thing which has a wikipedia entry that points out the association of the term with conspiracy theories... but then somewhat helpfully links to the "North American SuperCorridor Coalition" which advocates for the expansion of the "International Mid-Continent Trade Corridor" which are apparently both very real things that exist and have people advocating for them.
So, people that talk negatively about the "NAFTA superhighway" are labeled as conspiracy nuts when in fact they are merely using a different label for something that actually exists and actually is associated with NAFTA .
And to be clear.... I actually support free trade and more normalization of economic regulations between North American, Central American and Caribbean countries. I'm a 19th century manifest destiny sort of guy and would like to see American expansion continue. No conspiracy here. I'd state it publicly that it should be an objective of US foreign policy to seek expansion of the United States among willing democratic partners in the region. I support Puerto Rico's efforts to join the union as a state and if any other Caribbean nations wanted to join I think that should be something we work out and make happen. If Mexico and Canada wanted to join up, which they really really don't, but if they did then the more the merrier.
All that said to underline the point that I mostly disagree with people that are opposed to freer trade or efforts for more economic and political integration. But I do share concerns of some about how we go about doing it and feel that the opposition is healthy and addressing the criticisms and very real downsides to greater economic and political integration, especially through international organizations and treaties, are important.
In the case of NAFTA, calling the opposition to free trade and the "NAFTA superhighway" conspiracy nuts is a really disingenuous attack on people with real concerns about the real negative effects of free trade and in the power of corporations to push through changes to the laws that disproportionately benefit those large corporations. To me the more that people opposed to NAFTA and other free trade agreements are grouped together, labeled as conspiracy theorists and dismissed the more I become concerned that those involved really don't want people looking at the details of these arrangements.
And to me that kind of suspicion is healthy, very healthy. I don't assume nefarious intent, but that doesn't mean that people aren't trying to distract away from some sweetheart deals that might not stand up to scrutiny. So there should be scrutiny. People don't often rise above their own self interests, that is just human nature. At some level, I don't even care about sweetheart deals or even plain old corruption so much as whether or not there is an overall good or bad result that benefits the most people. Nothing good can come of simply labeling people as conspiracy nuts and dismissing their valid concerns.
FDIC already insures bank accounts up to $250k, so unless people are happy with large amounts of money sitting uninsured in bank accounts with little return on interest then for the most part we are talking about risk to financial transactions that are not really through regular bank accounts. If we are talking about the financial system, then we are talking about a system of entangling loans and investments where risk is inherent and a more general downturn can cause over-leveraged companies to go bankrupt and then take others down in a domino effect.
But investments can be in any type of companies, so I think the real problem is leveraged debt against uncertain assets without enough cash or cash equivalents on hand to weather the downturns.
How about we flip this around? Simply require companies to have more cash or cash equivalents on hand to cover a greater percentage of their debts and liabilities as those debts and liabilities grow in total amount. Or require them to carry insurance with rates that increase with overall debt levels.
I don't care if Apple is a huge company with Billions and Billions in revenue, but if suddenly they decide to give away all their money to their investors or employees and leave the company with a mountain of debt that would potentially cause it to go bankrupt then that creates the potential for a corporate collapse which could be a sudden shock to the economy.
Basically force larger companies to use their profits to work towards being debt free or at least carrying less debt. It would also have the same effect of splitting up companies that have larger amounts of debt because it will be cheaper on a per dollar basis for smaller companies to insure themselves or they will have less stringent cash to debt ratio thresholds.
If companies are given the right incentives by regulators to have more cash and less debt then that should lessen systemic risks.
To be fair, there's a strong public interest in the banking sector not melting down, so while we might have wanted to go about it differently, ultimately the public was going to have to stabilize the banking system and that was going to take money. The cronyism in the bailout was that we didn't then make the "guilty" parties pay for their damage or significantly fix the system.
Problem is that the banking system actually did melt down and all that public money went towards propping up rich people with a lot of assets invested in these banks which otherwise would have failed. Loans were not getting made for a period of time which is basically the definition of a banking system collapse. So, what system was saved? What happened now is that a new system was created that doesn't work by any rules
I think the article is a bit too simplistic and doesn't really address the danger to a private business doing business with government and also the idiocy of structuring this as a loan rather than as a investment. Given the company had no income and not enough collateral it should have never been structured as a loan. Whether you are an individual, a bank or the state of Rhode Island, you shouldn't be giving out loans to people or businesses that clearly don't yet have the means to pay you back. 38 Studios certainly shouldn't have accepted the loan in hindsight, but that is not a public policy discussion, but one on the individual merits of the situation.
If you take away the part that using the government as a bank is a bad idea because of politics and corruption and the fact that the government can't effectively police itself, then you still had a bad loan to begin with. And as a practical matter, the "crony" part of crony capitalism only works when your side is in office, so with a change of parties the cash stopped coming and worse the new democratic party governor publicly attacked the company just as it was looking for a new round of funding.
As for whether the business was sound... Most start-ups don't get the investments they need to get to profitability. It is done purposefully by VCs who don't want to risk all their money and also they want to be able to exercise more control over the company as it nears profitability yet still needs additional capital. It gives them leverage. It was perfectly reasonable that 38 Studios was not profitable and needed more money to get to a release of their next game. What was stupid was getting a loan instead of investment money on such a high risk venture. Investments can be watered down by issuing additional equity which is pretty common, while loans can't be watered down unless they are renegotiated or through bankruptcy protection in which case you are pretty much done.
It would be too easy to say that governments shouldn't make investments, but the reality now is that we are in a strange hybrid socialist system now where capital is drained out of the free markets through over taxation and then new money is cycled in through the Federal Reserve and government spending.
Most of the time the government is funneling new money in through no interest loans to banks which are then supposed to loan out the money at higher rates and in this way the difference in interest is retained by the banks presumably to be reinvested and therefore become part of the free market economy again. However, in recent years those dollar flows are way out of whack.
Not to say there isn't a lot of private capital out there, certainly in this case a few hundred million to fund a game startup isn't unreasonable to raise on the private equity markets, but it isn't quite the same as the power of governments at all levels to move money around. So, as long as governments are playing such a central all encompassing role in the economy then they are increasingly going to be turned to for capital. Not where I think we should be, but it does appear this is the direction we are heading. To simply say now that governments can't make investments in companies would be to knock over the apple cart in the free market, too disruptive to just do all at once.
But we do need to move in the direction of lower corporate taxes and allowing deductions for all forms of investments so we can reinvigorate capital in our free market economy and stop taking quite as much out to funnel through government hands.
Forget the space race, let the space rush begin! Let's mine some asteroids!
Seriously, once space exploration can be economically self sustaining, self perpetuating, then maybe we can get somewhere.
A little more quietly, there are four companies now with NASA funded manned space-flight programs: SNC, Boeing, Blue Origin and SpaceX.
Once people start flying on any of these vehicles then it opens up more possibilities moving forward. This is the real space race.
How is this different from the canceled Ares? Or they just trim out the LEO variant?
They painted it white.
Ah thank you, I looked for a new article on the blog itself about the proposal and couldn't find any update as the slashdot teaser said.
Interesting solution. Still has problems like SSL/TLS, but a trust network might be no worse than the existing system which relies on paying certificate authorities, the cost really is holding back encrypting things like email or other point to point communications between individuals using computers. Not sure the point of an anonymous proxy though, since that implies you control the communications infrastructure which means an adversary still knows its you or someone in your network, seems like the level of anonymity and untraceability should be a seperate concern. Probably best to role this out for individual communications though, because e-commerce banks and others are probably okay with paying for a certificate from an authority. Get Google on board.