Weekend Roundup 11/1/2010

Angry America: Barack Obama and the United States are both doing a little better than Americans seem to believe
The Economist, Oct. 30, 2010

Synopsis: The eve-of-the-election editorial analysis from the respected, far-from-liberal British newsweekly says the “rage” against President Obama is “overdone.” Obama “got some big things right” (economic stimulus, health care, Iraq, Afghanistan), the editors say, but he has been hurt by “a series of smaller things” and by an inability “to perceive, let alone respond to, the grievances of Middle America.”

Takeaway: “Despite its problems, America has far more going for it than its current mood suggests,” the editors conclude. “And it still has a talented president who can surely do better than he has thus far.”

Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher


Land Mines Are War Crimes
Paul Salopek, Foreign Policy, Oct. 27, 2010

A few words in defense of land mines
Thomas Ricks, The Best Defense (blog, Foreign Policy site), Oct. 28, 2010

Two Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondents learned different lessons from their considerable combat experience. Paul Salopek, a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, writes with controlled fury to condemn land mines, noting that the United States is one of a minority of countries (others include Iran, Russia, China and Burma) that refuse to sign on to a global ban. Acknowledging the U.S. argument that mines might be needed in events such as a North Korean invasion of South Korea, Salopek argues that the harm they do to civilians, including children, far outweighs any potential military benefit. His departure point for the piece is the near-fatal injury in October of celebrated war photographer Joao Silva, who has lost parts of both legs to a mine in Afghanistan, where he was working for the New York Times. Salopek got some immediate pushback from Thomas E. Ricks, former military correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He argued, in abbreviated fashion, that mines built to fall apart shortly after deployment can serve a useful purpose – such as defending a Pakistani nuclear facility from potential takeover by terrorists.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher


We Have Ways of Making You Think: Parasites on the Brain, All in the Mind
ABC Radio National (Australia), Oct. 9, 2010

Synopsis: Tiny parasites living in the brains of animals like insects and fish change the way the animals behave -- and think. Some French crickets, for example, have been taking suicidal night-time leaps into neighborhood swimming pools, apparently under the mental strain of a parasite infestation. What might parasites be doing to your brain … hmmm? (In the spooky spirit of Halloween, I offer this gem from one of my favorite news sites, Australia's fabulous ABC Radio National. Check 'em out. They're one of the few journalism outlets in the world -- besides The CQ Researcher -- that offer extensive bibliographies and footnotes to many of their stories!

Takeaway: "Half of us are infected perhaps, and if you were to ask yourself, if I am infected and I could cure myself to get rid of my toxoplasma which is my co-inhabitant, would I want to do that or am I happy with the personality I'm sharing with my parasite?"

Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher


Why Twitter’s C.E.O. Demoted Himself
Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times, Oct. 31, 2010

Synopsis: Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, 38, last month announced he was giving up his post as CEO of the digital phenomenon, which now boasts 175 million registered users. He has been widely described as a brilliant innovator who understands what Internet users want, but not a detail-oriented manager.

Takeaway: Know your limits, and your strengths.

Thomas J. Colin, Managing Editor, CQ Researcher