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Notable readings of the day 02/27/2014

February 27, 2014
  • tags: slavery US rebellion history

    • There’s no doubt that Vesey was a violent man, who planned to attack and kill Charleston whites. But those who condemn him as a terrorist merely demonstrate how little we, as a culture, understand about slavery, and what it forced the men and women it ensnared to do.
    • More than a decade ago, while I was giving a talk on Vesey in Charleston, a member of the audience challenged my view that what Vesey wished to accomplish — the freedom for his friends and family — could be a good thing, on the grounds that he went about it the wrong way. “Why not work within the system for liberation,” the man asked, or even “stage a protest march?”
    • Although well intentioned, such questions reveal how far American society still has to travel before we reach a sophisticated understanding of the past. There was no “system” for Vesey to work within; his state had flatly banned private manumissions, or the freeing of slaves, in 1820. The only path to freedom was to sharpen a sword. Americans today can admire the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his 1963 nonviolent March on Washington, but his world was not Vesey’s, and we must understand that.

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    • It is ironic that such historical myopia should be found in Charleston, which today bills itself as one of the nation’s most historic cities. Each afternoon horse-drawn carriages transport tourists about its narrow streets. But as the fight over the Vesey statue suggests, tour guides tell at best an incomplete story.
    • They often ignore, for example, the fact that of the roughly 400,000 Africans sold into what is now the United States, approximately 40 percent landed on Sullivan’s Island, a hellish Ellis Island of sorts just outside of Charleston Harbor. Today nothing commemorates that ugly fact but a simple bench, established by the author Toni Morrison using private funds.
  • tags: sexual abuse university christian

    • Grace is led by Basyle J. Tchividjian, an associate law professor at another evangelical Christian school, Liberty University, and a grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham. He caused a stir last year by saying that in looking at the Roman Catholic Church’s mishandling of abuse cases, evangelicals should not feel superior, adding, “I think we are worse.”
  • tags: turkey justice system politics

    • In an assertion reminiscent of the many denials over the years by the officers and their lawyers, Mr. Erdogan’s office released a statement saying that the recordings released on Monday were “a product of an immoral montage that is completely false.”
    • Many of the prosecutors and investigators in both cases — the corruption inquiry and the old military trials — are followers of Fethullah Gulen,
    • top adviser to Mr. Erdogan, Yalcin Akdogan, who is considered the prime minister’s mouthpiece, has called those military cases a “plot against their own country’s national army,” which is now being replicated in the corruption investigation against the government. A government watchdog recently issued a report that determined that some of the evidence against the military was manipulated.
    • More remarkably, one of the judges involved in the trials, Koksal Sengun, recently said that he had never read all the indictments, and that if he had he would never have accepted them as legitimate. “I would have rejected the indictment for many reasons now,” he said in an interview with the Turkish news website T24.
    • Recently, under pressure from the government, Turkish lawmakers voted to abolish the special courts in which the officers were tried, a significant step toward new trials. Variations of these courts, set up under antiterrorism laws, have been in place in Turkey since the 1970s. They operate under special rules that allow secret witnesses and wiretaps that would not be admissible in regular courts.
    • That makes them vulnerable to manipulation for political ends, legal analysts say. “The courts are specially designed for the government to use the judicial forces against opponents,” said Metin Feyzioglu, the head of Turkey’s bar association. “They managed to get the military out of politics,” but “that was not the right way to do it.”
    • is putting new light on what has been hailed, here and abroad, as Mr. Erdogan’s most important achievement: securing civilian control over the military. The way it was done, however, is now increasingly viewed as an act of revenge by Turkey’s Islamists against their former oppressors in the military
    • In 2005, years before the trials, a man affiliated with the Gulen movement approached Eric S. Edelman, then the American ambassador, at a party in Istanbul and handed him an envelope containing a handwritten document that supposedly laid out a plan for an imminent coup. But as Mr. Edelman recounted, he gave the documents to his colleagues and they were determined to be forgeries.
    • These cases, Ergenekon and Sledgehammer, are the two pillars of Erdogan’s now autocratic system,” said Selim Yavuz, a lawyer who represents his father, a former army general who was convicted and imprisoned in Sledgehammer. “People saw if he could do this to the army, he could do it to anyone. Now he is seen as the almighty.”
    • n now moving to discredit some of the evidence, Mr. Erdogan’s government is walking a tightrope, clinging to its record of democratizing the country and removing the military from politics, while putting distance between itself and the tactics employed to do so.
    • When the corruption investigation went public, Gareth Jenkins, a longtime writer and analyst in Turkey, said he noticed several similarities in tactics to the investigation of the military, and listed them: the same prosecutors, the use of simultaneous dawn raids on the homes and offices of suspects, an immediate defamation campaign in the Gulen-affiliated news media, and the leaks of wiretapped conversations.
    • They substantially weakened the military politically and empowered a mafia within the state,” Mr. Rodrik said. “That’s their record.”
  • tags: exercise fitness

  • tags: brain trauma soccer

    • C.T.E. is believed to be caused by repetitive hits to the head — even subconcussive ones barely noted. Once considered unique to boxers, it has been diagnosed over the past decade in dozens of deceased football players and several hockey players. In December, it was found for the first time in a baseball player.
    • “The brain is a very delicate organ, and it probably can withstand some injury, but the whole issue of repeated injury is a very different circumstance,” he said. “When it’s moving, it’s moving with its 200 billion brain cells. And those cells are being, in some way, mechanically deformed, some more than others,
    • Bigler said he would not recommend that players, especially young ones, routinely head the ball. The brain is not fully developed until about age 25, he said, making it more susceptible to injury.
    • ome youth soccer organizations have warned against practicing heading until players reach a certain age, usually between 10 and 14. Some scientists believe those ages are somewhat arbitrary
    • The cold, hard reality is that the data don’t exist to address that question,”
    • ipton said Wednesday that there was probably a reasonable threshold below which heading might cause few problems.

      “Above some level, heading is probably not good for anyone,”

    • In hindsight, Grange’s family said that he showed symptoms of C.T.E. beginning in high school. He struggled to balance a checkbook. He did not understand the repercussions of failing classes.
  • tags: public health right corporations profit choice freedom

    • Freudenberg’s case is that the food industry is but one example of the threat to public health posed by what he calls “the corporate consumption complex,” an alliance of corporations, banks, marketers and others that essentially promote and benefit from unhealthy lifestyles.
    • six industries — food and beverage, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, pharmaceutical and automotive — use pretty much the same playbook to defend the sales of health-threatening products. This playbook, largely developed by the tobacco industry, disregards human health and poses greater threats to our existence than any communicable disease you can name.
    • All of these industries work hard to defend our “right” — to smoke, feed our children junk, carry handguns and so on — as matters of choice, freedom and responsibility. Their unified line is that anything that restricts those “rights” is un-American.
    • each industry, as it (mostly) legally can, designs products that are difficult to resist and sometimes addictive.
    • The issues of auto and gun safety, of drug, alcohol and tobacco addiction, and of hyperconsumption of unhealthy food are not as distinct as we’ve long believed; really, they’re quite similar. For example, the argument for protecting people against marketers of junk food relies in part on the fact that antismoking regulations and seatbelt laws were initially attacked as robbing us of choice; now we know they’re lifesavers.
    • Until now (and, sadly, perhaps well into the future), corporations have been both more nimble and more flush with cash than the public health arms of government
    • “What we need,” Freudenberg said to me, “is to return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health.”
    • The turning point in the tobacco wars was when the question changed from the industry’s — “Do people have the right to smoke?” — to that of public health: “Do people have the right to breathe clean air?” Note that both questions are legitimate, but if you address the first (to which the answer is of course “yes”) without asking the second (to which the answer is of course also “yes”) you miss an opportunity to convert the answer from one that leads to greater industry profits to one that has literally cut smoking rates in half.
    • Similarly, we need to be asking not “Do junk food companies have the right to market to children?” but “Do children have the right to a healthy diet?”
    • The question is not only, “Do we have a right to bear arms?” but also “Do we have the right to be safe in our streets and schools?”
    • n short, says Freudenberg: “The right to be healthy trumps the right of corporations to promote choices that lead to premature death and preventable illnesses. Protecting public health is a fundamental government responsibility
    • “Shouldn’t science and technology be used to improve human well-being, not to advance business goals that harm health?” Two other questions that can be answered “yes.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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