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U.S. and Europe

Tuesday, 31. December 2013

What do we do about the NSA and the total surveillence state?


This whole NSA thing is bigger than I thought at first and I am wondering what to do about it. On the one hand there is the issue of what to do personally. Should I extract myself from the internet as much as possible and encourage others, particularly family members, to do the same? Should I give up using a cell phone and encourage others to do the same? There are countless personal consequences for doing so. Is it worth it?

The other issue is more broadly political. German journalist Frank Schirrmacher rightly pointed out in a recent article that Edward Snowden has essentially asked the question of our time: Do we want to live this way? What are the political consequences of these developments? What can we do about it collectively? Who is doing something and how do we help?

Other than to say, "No, I don't want to live this way," I don't know the answers to any of this yet. Searches on the internet turn up various groups and ideas, but I don't have it sorted out. Any ideas or advice would be welcome.

Anyone who isn't worried yet should watch this young "rock star" type security expert pull the pants down on the NSA:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=b0w36GAyZIA

Julian Assange's call for transparency at the same conference paints an image of a dystopian future where we are all part of the state. He seems to be of the opinion that this is unavoidable but that we can, through transparency measures, at least have some voice in what kind of a state we will all be part of:

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20946-wikileaks-julian-assange-calls-on-computer-hackers-to-unite-against-nsa-surveillance

This is where everyone can come together - conservatism, free market-thinking, liberalism, progressivism. There is no right or left here.

Monday, 19. March 2012

Two Years to Democracy: The 2Y2D...


Johnson, Gail L.: Two Years to Democracy: The 2Y2D Plan. Fastest, Easiest, Safest way to restore "government of the People, by the People, for the People." Libri Anatum Publishing, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-9852776-0-4

What do you think of having a House of Representatives with one representative for every 100,000 people instead of one for every 500,000 to 1,000,000? Instead of 435 members, the House would have almost 3,100.

Everyone from the far left to the far right agrees that the U.S. political system isn't really working the way it is supposed to. Whether you focus on the corruption of the system through money – both lobbying and the pernicious effect of money on the election process – or on the alienation of people from the political process, we can all see that something is amiss. The latest wave of grassroots agitation, including both the Tea Party and Occupy movements as well as a new wave of labor agitation, can be taken as evidence that there is a general feeling of dissatisfaction with politics. Those movements are also grounds for some optimism of course - people are not organizing massed armed resistance. There are no insurgencies. The system still works to some degree. But these movements show that recourse is now being saught at the edges of the system - in non-violent protest, not through the normal processes of elections and legislation, because the core of the system is broken.

In her book, Gail Johnson proposes that the easiest way to fix the problems we do have with the core of the system by increasing the size of the House of Representatives dramatically - to over 3,000 members. In terms of direct effects, this would ...
  • bring the size of congressional districts down to a size resembling those the founders intended (three times as large, but with today's communication technology similar in its effects) and make communication between elected officials and their constituencies possible,
  • virtually eliminate the disparities in representation which we currently have because state borders distort the sizes of congressional districts
  • and open up political office to a much larger subset of the population.
The book shows that these first-order effects, which are actually more descriptive than predictive, do indeed pertain. The indirect or second-order effects are what we are really after, however, the cleaning up and invigoration of the political system. I list them here in what I think is decreasing order of likelyhood:
  • The possibility of direct communication between voters and representatives would reduce alienation and invigorate political life. More people would see that their voice matters. More people would vote and more people would run for office. Johnson does not address this aspect of the reform in her book, but the proposed reform would be essentially "liberal" in its overall effect. Although it does not address legislative content, the 2Y2D plan would, if it did in fact mobilize more political activity, increase the franchise. As we see from historical cases where high voter turnout leads to a leftward shift, this would do the same. Efforts to limit the franchise are generally something you find on the right. So while this may find support among many who associate with conservative views (the Tea Party comes to mind, but they are not entirely right-wing) and in many districts the result would be the election of more conservative politicians, overall, the effect would, in my estimation, be a shift to the left.
  • The cost of government would actually go down. That is intitially counter-intuitive. More representatives must cost more, right? Johnson's book does not actually prove that costs would go down. Believe it or not, however, there is strong impirical evidence based on precedent and comparison as well as some logical extrapolation to show that this is indeed what would happen. Read the book to see it. Furthermore, Johnson points out that even if she's wrong and costs remained stable or went up, the cost of congress would remain a tiny portion of the overall budget and the positive effects would be worth the additional cost.
  • The cost of running a campaign would sink dramatically. Since congressional districts would be smaller, advertizing in them would cost less. The methods of advertizing would also be more direct, as television ads would become less efficient. I am not entirely sure, however, that the overall cost of electioneering would go down. Elections per district would certainly become cheaper, of course. So more people who are not filthy rich could indeed run for office and hope to win.
  • The costs of lobbying would become prohibitive. This last point is not very well demonstrated in the book. It is indeed likely that a six-fold increase in the number of congressmen would in fact make lobbying more difficult. Congressmen would approach parity with lobbyists instead of being strongly outnumbered by them. But if the stakes remain high (a lot of government largess to distribute), I see no obvious reason why lobbying might not simply increase to meet the new challenge.
  • New political parties might emerge. Johnson speculates briefly on this possibility. The idea merits consideration. Even now, an occasional independent gets into congress. With local elections less dependent on large sums of money or infrastructure, this is more likely to happen the larger congress gets. Not only might challengers arise on the "outside" - to the right of the Republican or to the left of the Democratic incumbant - but independence from the national party might prove advantageous to more moderate candidates. If there were more independents, they might coalesce into regional or national parties. Indeed, the small parties already established like the Libertarians or the Greens could start to win seats right off the bat if they have good people locally.
The strongest point to the whole idea is its pragmatism. This pragmatic voice is refreshing in an era when so much political discourse has become so ideological, coarse and vitriolic. The main center of its pragmatism is its moderation. It is easy to brainstorm marvellous and fantastic reforms for the government. My favorite would be introducing some form of proportional representation to open the door to third parties. There are obvious problems with that, which a glance at Europe will show, but that is not the issue here. The problem with that idea, and so many others, is that it requires a constitutional amendment to make happen, and the hurdle for amendments is very, very high. Johnson's 2y2d plan does not. It still requires a majority of sitting congressmen to vote themselves into an entirely different universe, of course, but it is not as unrealistic as a constitutional amendment.

Johnson's idea is also pragmatic because it focuses on the branch of government that is most accessable to change. While it remains difficult to get the House to vote itself into an entirely new situation, it is more likely to happen there than anywhere. The House is the federal branch most likely to listen and act in the interests of and on the initiative of a broad expression of political sentiment.

In addition to pragmatism, the book's strength is its impirical foundation. It shows clearly by looking at the words of the Founding Fathers as well as at the real numbers behind how our system works, that there is a problem and that this idea has a good shot at making significant progress toward a solution.

The weaknesses of the book are omissions, but the author no doubt wanted to keep the proposal short and sweet. At just over 100 pages, including charts, quote boxes and generous margins, whole book can be absorbed in one or two sittings. The stuff left out can emerge from the discussions that this important idea should generate. Everyone will have their own ideas about what needs to be talked about.

The main thing I noticed that the book only touched on, was how Congress actually works. The book contains very little thinking about how the increase in the size of the House would change the dynamic of how the House actually operates on a day-to-day basis. The speculation about the effects on lobbying are plausible. But what about committee work? How do 3000 people deliberate? Are there historical comparisons we could look at which might give us a clue? The reformed House would be larger than any other elected chamber in the world. (China's is currently the largest at 3000, but not being democratically elected, doesn't offer much of a comparison.) Johnson's remarks here are surprisingly brief.

Overall I give the project high marks. The idea doesn't have a webpage yet. Unfortunately, the URL 2Y2D.org is taken by another project which, at first blush, appears to be a somewhat "new age" kind of thing. So the only place to read about the idea right now is in the book. I encourage anyone interested in serious political reform to give it a hard look and to talk about it with friends, neighbors and colleagues, especially with people who are already active.

Thursday, 2. April 2009

Gun control chain e-mail found to be ridiculous...


I just got forwarded a long e-mail entitled "A little gun history lesson" full of nonsense about the historical effects of gun control. I am not very much a conservative or "liberal" on this issue. But this e-mail is probably the most ridiculous collection of pro-gun arguments I have ever seen. If you want to read it first, scroll down to the blue text.

The problem I have with the e-mail is the fallacy of assuming that something that happens first is the cause of whatever happens later. Just looking at the first example: I suppose there might have been some new law about guns in 1929. But Russians were not commonly armed before then to my knowledge. Saying that that is why 20 million "dissidents" (a ridiculous term for entire population groups) were rounded up and exterminated is a bit silly. And it assumes that no "dissidents" were exterminated before then - which is not the case. And did the Soviets then liberalize gun laws in 1953 - and therefor the mass exterminations were no longer possible? Please. The Turkish example seems _at least_ if not more absurd - as if some 1911 laws disarmed an otherwise armed Armenian population by 1915. I could go on down the list. The idea that gun control prevented a Japanese invasion of the United States is probably the silliest claim of them all. I suspect the real reason the Japanese didn't invade the United States is that they were overstretched almost immediately after their early run of victories. They couldn't even take Midway, much less the rest of Hawaii. An invasion of the west coast was impossible.

Judging by the general logic and tone of the e-mail, I imagine some of it is completely made up (the dates of "gun control" for example). But I suppose all the numbers might be right - just the logic is flawed. The statistics on Australia are interesting: If gun control leads to higher crime, why does the country with the most liberal gun laws in the industrialized world have the highest rates of just about every kind of crime and the world's largest prison population to boot? Canada and Russia and India are ethnically diverse, so that can't be the reason. Is it the guns? Maybe. Maybe not.

Judging by what I can see on some internet forums, it would appear that not even all the pro-gun people are taking it seriously. Either way, it is not a serious contribution to the discussion of a serious issue.

Here's the e-mail:

A Little Gun History Lesson

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, some 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, some 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million 'educated' people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars. The first year results are now in:

Australia-wide, homicides are up 3. 2 percent
Australia-wide, assaults are up 8. 6 percent
Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!

In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not, and criminals still possess their guns!

It will never happen here? I bet the Aussies said that too! While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.

There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the ELDERLY. Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns. The Australian experience and the other historical facts above prove it.

You won't see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.

Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely a affect only the law abiding citizens.

Take note my fellow Americans, before it's too late!

The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind him of this history lesson.


With Guns.............We Are 'Citizens'.
Without Them........We Are 'Subjects'..

During WW II.. II the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED !

Note: Admiral Yamamoto who crafted the attack on Pearl Harbor had attended Harvard U 1919-1921 & was Naval Attache to the. U.S.. 1925-28. Most of our Navy was destroyed at Pearl Harbor & our Army had been deprived of funding & was ill prepared to defend the country.

It was reported that when asked why Japan did not follow up the Pearl Harbor attack with an invasion of the U.S. Mainland, his reply was that he had lived in the U.S. and knew that almost all households had guns.

If you value your freedom, Please spread this anti-gun control message to all your friends!

Monday, 8. September 2008

USA erklärt...


Ein Freund hat mich auf einen tollen Blog aufmerksam gemacht. Er hat sich zum Ziel gesetzt, den Deutschen die USA zu erklären:

http://usaerklaert.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, 4. June 2008

Car makers of the world: SHAME ON YOU!




This image is an advertizement I found in the January 7th, 1957 edition of the Jamestown Sun. See the huge station wagon? It got 32 miles to the gallon. How much does your car get today, 50 YEARS later?

Tuesday, 21. August 2007

Impressions from Bavaria...


I just took a short vacation to the region around Straubing, Bavaria. We stayed out in a rural area, but made several trips into Straubing and to nearby sites. We spent some time at the Gäubodener Volksfest, the second-largest Bavarian festival (after the Oktoberfest, of course). I noticed some things during our trip:

- Bavaria is emptier and more rural than I expected. I have the strong impression that it is much less densely populated than the area I live in now. The map didn't have as much on it. The distances between cities seemed greater while driving. Some of the villages were very small.

- Bavarians are friendly. This is a trait they seem to share with the "Moselaner." The impression might have to do with it being a tourist area, but the places I have lived in in Baden-Württemberg have also been tourist destinations, and they don't do well by comparison in this category.

- Bavarians weigh more. While my wife insisted that there were many thin people in the crowds as well, I noticed more obesity or at least more people who seemed to have more pounds than they needed walking about. This might be a universal trait among rural areas in industrialized countries, however. Inland, rural areas have more overweight people than California in the U.S., for example.

Monday, 13. August 2007

Rent a REAL German!


Check out http://www.rentagerman.de/, a great service. You can have a German come to your house and explain race relations in America to you or distract the women with his charming little glasses.

Friday, 20. April 2007

Barber on Consumption and Capitalism: Choosing toppings instead of what really matters...


On the April 15th episode of Media Matters, Benjamin Barber (author of Jihad vs. McWorld) talks at length about his new book Consumed: How markets corrupt children, infantilize adults, and swallow citizens whole. It struck a strong chord with me. My title here refers to the fact that modern society gives us all kinds of choices - like the "liberty" to choose the toppings on our fast-food potato skins - but not about what really matters. It mirrors some of what European intellectuals have been saying for several centuries.

The central premise of the book is that market capitalism has recently (last several decades) gone sour in that our consumer identity is now winning out over our civic identity to the detriment of all. Each of us has and exercizes our individual identity as consumer and producer in the economy. We also have a civic identity as part of our community and polity. Capitalism was historically based on the idea that our personal choices as producers and consumers served civic purposes as well. Self interested participation in the system served an altruistic purpose in that we produced things that served the real needs of others and consumed what others produced, giving them a livelihood. I think professor Barber idealizes how well this supposedly functioned historically (think of capitalist slavery, for example), but he makes a strong case that it doesn't work any more: Since capitalism has essentially succeeded in providing for most all of our real, material needs, it now has to expand to create artificial needs through marketing.

This marketing moves the consumer identity to eclipse our other personae and leads to all kinds of social pathologies including the infantilization of adults and the erosion of democracy. It used to be the case that people had these first-order wants (food, shelter, sex, etc.) and then, as adults, developed second order wants - things we "want to want" - like a finer palette, a more refined taste in cultural goods, patience, thoroughness, etc. It used to be the case that societies fostered that move from childhood to adulthood (an example that occurs to me is the multi-generational household which has almost totally disappeared). Now, marketing, which gets hold of people at younger and younger ages, rears us to stay children and keep wanting buyable goods. Instead of serving our second-order needs - the discussion about what kind of things we want to want, what kind of society we want to live in - it feeds us what we now, impulsively want. It is like giving a drug addict drugs instead of what he wants when he is not high - to get off drugs and live a fuller life.
  • The private logic of the consumer displaces the public logic of the citizen in that we equate freedom with consumer choices. WalMart, for example, is a great thing for consumers because it offers us an unbelieveable array of choices at very low prices. The civic externalities are the destruction of retail communities, urban sprawl, etc.
  • The state is where we have a voice, in theory, but the state is deregulating and leaving everything up to private companies leading to a loss of civic, collective choices about how we want to live together. Similar tendencies are visible in education, the media, etc. Greater choices for individuals do not necessarily mean more real options.
  • The generation of consumer needs fosters infantile personae. The last thing the market needs are thoughtful, prudent adults who do all kinds of things unrelated to shopping. What best serves the market are the traits of the child or teenager: impulsivity, instant gratification, low-brow tastes, constantly changing interests and fetishes, etc.
  • This is evidenced in the banality and courseness of popular culture, from Spiderman to Britney Spears to fast food to talk radio.
  • If all the space, in magazines, on TV, on billboards, etc. which is now dedicated to selling stuff were instead used for political or religious propaganda, we would be shocked and think that is totalitarian. But we have learned to accept from powerful corporations what we would never accept from the state. I would add that advertizing is far more effective than crude political propaganda. It is driven by profit which is precisely measureable. It is done at a much higher level of psychological sophistication than totalitarian propaganda ever was. Our behavior shows that we have accepted its logic.
  • We thus move from the "nanny state" that was the big ideological project of the 1930s to 1970s to the "nanny corporations" which are now unregulated but represented by tens of thousands of lobbyists on K Street who know how to use the state. An interesting example Barber doesn't mention in the interview is the electric car, which was introduced by state action and forcibly removed from the market again by corporations despite its popularity.
  • It cannot be argued that we are simply being given what we want, because if that were the case, marketing would hardly be necessary. These wants, which move in to replace the well-rounded adult persona, are being aggressively and artificially created.
Three interesting examples:
  • There are more and more communities that do not allow children. Barber explains this as the need to stay a child onesself, to remain the center of attention. The hallmark of adulthood is taking on the responsilbitiy for another person, expending energy on their needs. In a community without children, we don't need to do that.
  • The ever-present cult of youth is an obvious example.
  • The dominance of youth culture in the cultural sphere is omnipresent.
The crux is this: While we thus abrogate our ability and responsibility (two attributes of adulthood, I might add) to the corporate elite, more and more problems which are collective in nature and require collective action are making the pathology of the system more and more obvious. Barber mentions Katrina, which showed a clear role for more government, global warming, Iraq (which is also the most privatized war in U.S. history), etc. He also mentions such fields as education and public transportation. I would add criminal justice, where more and more is being turned over to the private sector.

The point in the interview I can most closely relate to my own professional experience as an online educator was when he and host Bob McChesney talked about the three core tendences:
  • easy over hard
  • simple over complex
  • fast over slow
The example they use in the interview is talk radio: crude and polarizing, simplistic, quickly moving from one subject to the next with simple, easy answers lacking all subtlety and complexity. It is easy to consume and believe, gratifies our hedonistic sense of self-righteousness, etc. It feeds on shock value instead of real information. It is essentially juvinile.

We can see this happening with the internet: It is about shopping, pornography, games, etc. It is becoming an electronic mall, not the new democratic community we might have thought ten years ago.

In the classroom, I note a sense of that in some areas:
  • Students want to do everything at once and get it over with, without really engaging the material (two jobs, raise a kid, take three classes at once). There is no time to really get into it - or anything, for that matter.
  • I like to sew ambiguity in the classroom by providing counterexamples to commonly held assumptions. Education is subversive of simple answers. This bothers some students who simply want to know which hoops they have to jump through to get to that higher pay grade. I recently had a student drop because I would not clearly-enough delineate those hoops. I want students to engage the topic - not just check off the boxes. In the subjects I teach - and in any subject properly taught, I imagine - there are rarely hard and fast answers. It is about learning and studying an approach and weighing factors, not memorizing facts.
The interview closed with what reminded me of the main thesis of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas? Namely, why aren't conservatives up in arms about this? How is it that values conservatives, especially religious people, aren't mad as hell about this? Why do they continue to vote for policies that foster this? Where are the Christians who see that the unregulated market can and does threaten the communities that they want to build? Any alliance between Christians and post-1960s progressives would later have quite a fight over the spoils of any victory over the mainstream corporate-political oligarchy. But they could cooperate for several election cycles at least, I would think.

Tuesday, 2. January 2007

Church and State in Germany and the U.S.


On March 9, 2007, I will be speaking at the American Monthly Luncheon on the topic of separation of church and state in Germany and the U.S. I will be comparing the connections between the state and church organizations in both countries in general and with a focus on particular examples. State money for church/religious purposes (religion in education, military chaplaincy, "faith-based" programs, etc.), legal enforcement of religious doctrines (blasphemy laws, blue laws, etc.), and civil religion (religious symbolism in politics and "public" places) are examples of the kinds of issues I will speak on.

If you are interested in attending, please get in touch with me.

Monday, 1. January 2007

German News Anti-American?


I've copy-pasted this from another site where it was originally posted. My copy-paste also includes comments made at the other site:

German news "anti-American"?
A friend of mine recently remarked that the German state-sponsored news programs are a source of anti-American propaganda. I disagreed, pointing out that they are critical of many things, not just the United States, including the German government itself. Well, the coverage of Saddam Hussein's execution last night made me rethink that assessment. In the ZDF 19:00 news, the summary of Saddam's political biography included the following "facts":

- During his war against Iraq, he was a "armed by the United States."

- When he attacked Kuwait, he was a "friend" and "ally" of the U.S. (Verbundeter) now turned enemy.

Excuse me? Certainly, a quick google search for terms such as "armed Iraq" or "weapons for Saddam" and the like will give one the impression that the United States was Iraq's biggest friend in the 1980s. But that is not the case. The United States helped supply the Iraqi military and even played a role in supporting Iraq's chemical weapons program. But the United States also armed Iraq's enemy, Iran.

U.S. policy was arguably cynical, deadly, counter-productive and many other things. But the U.S. was not alone.

Who armed Saddam Hussein before 1990?

- 53% of his arms came from the Soviet Union.
- 20% came from France. Yes, France.
- China 7%
- Brazil 4%
- Egypt 4%
- Czechoslovakia 4%

(figures for the period 1980-1989)

All other suppliers combined made up for 10% of his arms imports -including the support given by the United States and GERMANY. Germany played an important role in developing Iraqi missile and chemical weapons capabilities. (See Hippler, Jochen: Iraq's Military Power: The German Connection. Middle East Report, Jan-Feb 1991, 27-31.)

Instead of mentioning these facts, the German news report ZDF heute and the ZDF-Spezial mentioned only that Saddam was "heavily armed" by the United States (hochgeruestet) and that the U.S. did "not leave his side, even when he used poison gas."

The video "potrait" of Saddam now available at heute.de is fairer. It emphasizes the French role in Iraq's nuclear program and notes that many people profited off of Saddam in the 1970s . The German role in building
up his chemical weapons program is mentioned. But the weapons for the attack on Iran "come from the USA and Europe."

The impression is still that the USA is, as usual, the primary culprit. In this particular case, I don't think that is the case. The lack of any mention of the large role played by the Soviet Union in arming Saddam's dictatorial regime is telling.
mhatlie - 31. Dec, 13:33 - edit

2 comments - add comment


P Shrier (guest) - 4. Jan, 21:53
Bias in the Media
I am surprised that you are just now realizing that the european news is slanted. In my 8 years in germany i always thought it was amzing how different American and German reporting about the same event could sound. My wife, who is German agrees though we disagree about who is more accurate. I will never forget how the retaking of Samarra in Iraq in sep-oct 2004 was reported, compared to the reality of the operation on the ground.
I now no longer trust any popular media outlet whether fox news or MSNBC. The medias distortion of facts has jaded me to the point where I want independent verification of everything they say.

mhatlie - 8. Jan, 11:56
Yes and no...
It is a bit of an exaggeration to say that I am "just now realizing that the European news is slanted." It is the crass anti-Americanism in some cases that I am becoming more aware of. It is not totally new for me. I considered Der Spiegel anti-American in 1987, when I was reading it before I came to Germany, for example. I would probably still agree with your wife on some issues.

But this will certainly color my viewing in the future. A story in the weekend paper is an example. It is about a German citizen who has been rotting in a Virginia prison for 20 years. On the one hand, the general data presented in the article is probably accurate and reflects a real problem (for example Virginia has less than 1/4 the population of Canada, but twice as many people in jail and continues to build prisons and close schools). But I simply don't trust their portrayal of the particular case which is the focus of the article: A man who was convicted despite his purportedly obvious innocence, going before parol boards one of whose members actually fell asleep during the hearing, etc. I can't help but suspect they are leaving out information which would give a more nuanced picture of the situation.

MHatlie
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