Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things May 8, 2013

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel: “Gitmo Is Killing Me”

I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.

I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.

Elizabeth Esther: “A former religious extremist explains how radicalization happens”

Let’s be clear, extremism isn’t just happening in Islam. It happens in all religions. In fact, what has disturbed me the most since leaving my childhood cult is that Christian fundamentalism is growing in popularity. My cult used to be considered “fringe” and “weird.” But now, fundamentalism is hip.

Contemplative, mystic, “moderate” Christianity is derided and dismissed just as contemplative Sufism is dismissed and derided among fundamentalist Muslims.

The enemy is fundamentalism because fundamentalism is very attractive to people looking for Definitive Answers. Extremist religion provides a rigid, black-and-white framework for understanding the world.

For those disaffected by the disappointments of modern life, extremist religion provides a nearly irresistible solution.

Chris Hayes: “Comparing gun fatalities vs. terror fatalities”

The cycle is the same, something horrible happens, we all watch it happen in real time and feel terrible and want to know who were the perpetrators, what are the circumstances, and why did it happen? We get some inkling and have a discussion of what the implications are for policy, what we might do to prevent something from this happening again in the future. When it’s guns, when the killer is a shooter, the answer is — nothing. We are told “this just happens.” But if it gets put in a special category called terrorism, then the answer is, everything must be done, no cost should be spared, no legal precedent should stand in the way. Once it gets put in the terrorism bucket, we must do everything in our power. No one ever says “people are going to die from terrorism, that’s just the way it is.” And if it’s in the gun bucket, “yeah, 30,000 people are going to die every year from guns, that’s just the way it is.” Why is that the case? In the last 30 years, there have been 30,000 to 40,000 gun deaths in the United States per year, more than 900,000 people. In the last 40 years since 1970, there have been about 3,400 terror-related deaths, depending how you define terror according to the integrated united states security data base. A million gun fatalities in the 33 years since 1980 versus 3,400 terror fatalities since 1970.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “The Limits of Good Faith”

Rand Paul went to Howard University, lied, and then got his ass kicked. That’s not so bad. I got my ass kicked regularly at Howard. That was the reason my parents sent me there. But having gotten his ass kicked, his answer is to not to reflect but to make an allegation of racial discrimination.

One of the things I try to do in my work is — in general — take people at their word. It’s very hard to communicate about anything without good faith. This, of course, assumes that communication is the goal. That was my assumption about Rand Paul. I was clearly wrong.

The Hon. Edward R. Korman, Tummino v. von Eschenbach, April 4, 2013

Levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception “interferes with prefertilization events. It reduces the number of sperm cells in the uterine cavity, immobilizes sperm, and impedes further passage of sperm cells into the uterine cavity. In addition, levonorgestrel has the capacity to delay or prevent ovulation from occurring.” U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, GAO-06-109, Food and Drug Administration: Decision Process to Deny Initial Application for Over-theCounter Marketing of the Emergency Contraceptive Drug Plan B Was Unusual at 12 (November 2005), Case No. 05-cv-366, Doc. No. 68-2 (hereinafter “GAO Report”). These contraceptives “have not been shown to cause a postfertilization event — a change in the uterus that could interfere with implantation of a fertilized egg.” Id. at 13.

… This case is not about the potential misuse of Plan B by 11-year-olds. These emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over-the-counter, the number of 11-year-olds using these drugs is likely to be miniscule, the FDA permits drugs that it has found to be unsafe for the pediatric population to be sold over-the-counter subject only to labeling restrictions, and its point-of-sale restriction on this safe drug is likewise inconsistent with its policy and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as it has been construed. Instead, the invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11-year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.

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