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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Losing our Food Freedom

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

Losing our Food Freedom

Food Security Now is circulating a petition to be presented to President Obama. I have signed and passed it on to growers and supporters of organic and sustainably grown food. If you want control of our food supply in the hands of corporate agricultural, stop here. If you want our food supply to become safer and more secure, read on and sign the petition.

Dear President Obama,

We urge you to withdraw the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator and to reconsider your support of Roger Beachy as director of the new National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Siddiqui is CropLife’s current vice president of science and regulatory affairs, and until last month, Beachy was the head of Monsanto’s de facto nonprofit research arm. As two textbook cases of the “revolving door” between industry and the agencies meant to keep watch, Siddiqui and Beachy’s industry ties demonstrate that both men are too beholden to corporate agriculture to serve the public interest.

Appointing Siddiqui to this critical post within the U.S. Trade Representative’s office sends a clear signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. plans to continue down the worn and failed path of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture by pushing pesticides, inappropriate biotechnologies and unfair trade arrangements on nations that do not want and can least afford them. Siddiqui’s professional record is revealing on several points:

  • Siddiqui was a paid lobbyist for 3 years for Croplife America, which represents the chemical pesticide and ag biotechnology interests. Members include Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
  • CropLife America’s regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive, urging the First Lady to consider using insecticides and herbicides in her garden.
  • CropLife America has consistently lobbied the U.S government to weaken and thwart international treaties governing the use and export of toxic chemicals such as PCBs, DDT and dioxins.
  • Siddiqui’s past service at the USDA included overseeing the initial development of national organic food standards that would have allowed GMOs and toxic sludge to be labeled “organic”— until over 230,000 consumers forced their revision.

As the global food crisis deepens and we head into the Doha round of trade talks at the WTO, the U.S. needs a lead negotiator who understands that the current configuration of trade agreements works neither for farmers nor for the world’s hungry. All eyes are on the U.S. to demonstrate international leadership in this arena by withdrawing support for an industrial model of agriculture that imperils both people and the planet, by undermining food security and worsening climate change.

In his capacity as director of NIFA, Roger Beachy will be in charge of the nation’s agricultural research agenda and purse strings for the next six years. Given Beachy’s previous career running the Danforth Plant Science Center, a nonprofit closely linked to and funded by Monsanto, we believe that billions more in government funding will be funneled into genetic engineering and chemical pesticide research. Meanwhile the real solutions to our growing agricultural problems, provided by sustainable and organic agriculture research, will suffer from a lack of federal funding and attention.

Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, agricultural biotechnology—of the kind aggressively promoted and marketed by CropLife— has failed to deliver on any of its promises of higher yields for U.S. farmers, “enhanced nutrition” or drought-resistance for developing country farmers. What Monsanto’s research agenda has yielded is skyrocketing herbicide use, resistant “super-weeds”, rising debt for farmers, polluted waterways, threats to the health of farmworkers and rural communities, and unparalleled corporate consolidation in the agrochemical and seed industries. The top 10 agribusinesses control 89% of the agrochemicals market, 66% of the modern biotech market and 67% of the global seed market.

With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates these effects of climate change. In the most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a model of agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, and puts profits back in the hands of farmers and rural communities. Industrial agriculture—and Roger Beachy, Islam Siddiqui and CropLife in particular—favor none of these solutions.

While we appreciate your Administration’s recent gestures in support of local food systems, we fear these initiatives will not fulfill their potential unless the monopolistic power and political influence of the agricultural input industry is directly confronted. We therefore respectfully ask you to withdraw your appointments of Siddiqui and Beachy, and replace them with candidates who have a sustainable vision for U.S. agriculture and trade.

As parents, farmers, advocates, scientists and people who eat food, we remember your promise on the campaign trail: “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.” We, the undersigned, are writing to hold you to that promise.

Sheila Velazquez lives and writes in the hills of Northwest Massachusetts. She can be reached at: velazque@ix.netcom.com. Read other articles by Sheila, or visit Sheila's website.

This article was posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2009 at 9:01am and is filed under Agriculture, Corporate Globalization, Food/Nutrition, GMO.

Divers probe Mayan ruins in Guatemala lake


Divers probe Mayan ruins in Guatemala lake

Area 50 feet beneath lake's surface believed to have been an island once

By Sarah Grainger
updated 6:19 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct . 30, 2009

GUATEMALA CITY - Scuba divers are exploring the depths of a volcanic lake in Guatemala to find clues about an ancient sacred island where Mayan pilgrims flocked to worship before it was submerged by rising waters.

Samabaj, the first underwater archaeological ruins excavated in Guatemala, were discovered accidentally 12 years ago by a diver exploring picturesque Lake Atitlan, ringed by Mayan villages and popular with foreign tourists.

"No one believed me, even when I told them all about it. They just said 'he's mad'," said Roberto Samayoa, a businessman and recreational diver who grew up near the lake where his grandmother told him legends of a sunken church.

Samayoa dived for years at the lake, often stumbling across pieces of pottery from the Mayan pre-classic period. In 1996, he found the site, with parts of buildings and huge ceremonial stones, known as stelae, clearly visible.

He named it Samabaj, after himself, but only in the past year have professional archeologists taken an interest, mapping the 4,300-square-foot area with sonar technology and excavating structures on a raised part of the lake bed.

Rising lake drowned buildings
Researchers believe this area, 50 feet below the lake's surface, was once an island until a catastrophic event, like a volcanic eruption or landslide, raised water levels.

The rising lake drowned the buildings around 250 A.D., before the height of the Mayan empire, and ceramics found intact there suggest the inhabitants left in a hurry.

"We have found six ceremonial monuments and four altars and without doubt there are more, which means this was an extremely important place from a spiritual point of view," lead archaeologist Sonia Medrano told Reuters in an interview.

The Maya built soaring pyramids and elaborate palaces in Central America and southern Mexico before mysteriously abandoning their cities around 900 A.D.

Lots of religious paraphernalia
Medrano, whose work is funded by the U.S.-based Reinhart Foundation, says the island has ruins of small houses for about 150 people and is crammed with religious paraphernalia, leading researchers to believe Samabaj was a pilgrimage destination.

Worshippers probably flocked there from the surrounding area, hiring boats from the shore to row them out to the island for prayer and contemplation, Medrano said.

Excavating in the murky, green water is challenging, with artifacts hard to see and buried under thousands of years of sediment.

The exact location of the site is a closely guarded secret, since the archaeologists want to protect it from looters who fish in the ruins for artifacts to be sold, sometimes for thousands of dollars, on the black market.

Copyright 2009 Reuters.

The Right's 25-Year Project to 'Defund' the Left

GOP Rep. Michele Bachman may have revealed more than she intended when she recently crowed that the attacks on ACORN were just the start of a campaign to "defund the left."

When Michele Bachman crowed in September that the exposure of alleged illegal activity by the anti-poverty group ACORN was just the start of a campaign to "defund the left," she may have revealed more about current Republican strategy than she intended.

“Defunding the left is going to be so easy,” Bachmann told the audience at a conservative conference, “and it’s going to solve so many of our problems.”

The Senate and House had just voted to cut off ACORN's federal funding in what CBS/AP called "a GOP-led strike against the scandal-tainted community organizing group" that followed the release of video showing ACORN employees apparently endorsing illegal activities, The bills passed by lopsided majorities, with many Democrats joining Republicans, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told a news conference, "We have to have our own scrutiny of an organization with an allegation of this kind against it."

The initial Congressional defunding of ACORN was scheduled to expire at the end of October, however, causing Bachman to warn a bloggers' conference at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, "This is the biggest trick or treat. On November 1 the prohibition will lift."

The Capital Research Center

The idea of starving the Democratic Party of donations by defunding the progressive non-profits that form a central pillar of its support is not new. It goes back to at least 1981, when the Heritage Foundation published a set of over 2000 policy recommendations for the Reagan administration. According to SourceWatch, "One challenge, as Heritage saw it, was to counter the rise of its ideological opponents by whittling away their status as 'public interest' organisations and eliminating federal financial support for 'liberal' groups."

The Capital Research Center (CRC) was founded in 1984 by a former Heritage Foundation vice president to implement this agenda by uncovering the presumably questionable funding sources of progressive groups. CRC's central assumption has always been that "a unified, sophisticated and well-funded philanthropic elite is dedicated to imposing on us the doctrine of 'progressive' philanthropy, doctrines that would reorder our political, economic and cultural priorities."

The CRC selected ACORN as a favored targed long before almost anybody else had heard of the group. In January 2005, Bill Berkowitz, who regularly reports on right-wing organizations, wrote:

"In mid-October of last year, the Center's president, Terence Scanlon, launched a pre-emptive strike against ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and its voter registration efforts. Scanlon cast a shadow over ACORN's reports that it had registered over one million new voters. He charged that because of irregularities, the organization was coming under scrutiny by lawmakers 'in state after state [where] allegations are surfacing that ACORN activists are padding the registration books'

"As a non-profit community-based organizing group, ACORN has been on the CRC's radar for several years. According to Scanlon, ACORN, with some 150,000 dues-paying members organized into 65 city chapters, 'is better known for public disruption.' Its so-called community organizing 'has relied on in-your-face confrontation,' including a 1995 demonstration targeting then House Speaker Newt Gingrich. 'In 2002 it burst into the Heritage Foundation to harangue welfare reform expert Robert Rector. Dozen of city councils and state legislatures have had to face angry ACORN protesters demanding higher minimum wages and more welfare entitlements. Banks have been pressured to change their lending practices or face ACORN charges of discrimination before regulators.'”

Currently, CRC senior editor Matthew Vadum -- who describes himself as "America's foremost expert on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)" -- seems to be carrying much of the weight of the anti-ACORN campaign through his blog, Twitter feed, and frequent appearances with Glenn Beck and other right-wing TV hosts.

Last May, Vadum told Beck, "ACORN is an immense crime family ... that has tentacles all though the United States, and now it's trying to spread to India and Canada and other places. ... They're engaged in racketeering. ... They break the law constantly."

"Something that needs to be explored is the roots of ACORN in the 1960s," Vadum continued. "It grew out of the radical welfare rights movement. And the idea behind that was that not enough people were on welfare and that you needed to pack the welfare rolls with as many people as possible in order to overwhelm the governments -- the various levels of government -- and cause social chaos. ... I guess you could say it was a Marxist-anarchist idea."

Vadum's latest entry at his CRC blog attempts to drag progressive filmmaker Brave New Films into his ACORN-related conspiracy theories. "Unwilling to admit it’s an ongoing criminal conspiracy to defraud the people of the United States of America, ACORN has retained Bolshevik Brave New Films to do some of its dirty work for it," Vadum writes. "The leftist propaganda factory headquartered in Culver City, Calif., has launched a new website, DeFOXamerica.com, which is an effort to shoot the messenger. Fox is the only television network that has taken much of an interest in covering the ACORN scandal which some commentators say is bigger than Watergate. ... It’s not known how much ACORN had to pay Brave New Films, a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit, to shill for it."

[DeFox America's Video on the attacks on ACORN is the video on the upper right-hand side of the screen]

CRC and its allies

For an organization whose mission is to expose the funding sources and organizational ties of the left, the Capital Research Center is ironically protective of its own connections. As a non-profit organization, for example, it is not obliged to report the names of its donors, only its total revenue -- which amounted in 2007 to about $2.5 million.

The CRC's tax filings similarly include the name of its officers, its directors -- who include former Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese III -- and its two highest-paid employees, but the membership of its National Advisory Board has not been revealed since 2001. At that time, however, the board was heavily loaded with individuals tied to both the Reagan administration and the Heritage Foundation, as well as to various other right-wing publications, think-tanks, and legal foundations.

Although the evidence is skimpy, it suggests that many of the same people who were involved with CRC when it was founded in 1984 may have continued to be connected with the group and its ongoing agenda.

One of the more interesting names on the 2001 list is that of T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., a former Reagan adviser and president of the Intercollegiant Studies Institute (ISI). Although it is not well known, ISI is one of the largest recipients of grants from conservative foundations, having been listed a few years ago as second only to the Heritage Foundation.

Much of ISI's activity is carried on through its Collegiate Network, which creates and subsidizes conservative student publications on college campuses. James O'Keefe -- the young filmmaker whose sting operation allegedly caught ACORN employees endorsing illegal activities -- was the founder of one such publication when he was a student at Rutgers University.

O'Keefe had also received advice and a start-up grant to help launch the Rutgers Centurion from Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute -- which has been training young Republican dirty tricksters since the 1970's, ranging from Karl Rove to Jeff Gannon. Blackwell himself appeared on a "Defunding the Left" panel at the 2001 Conservative Political Action Conference, along with CRC president Terrence Scanlon.

Both Cribb and Blackwell have strong ties to the Heritage Foundation as well. Blackwell was a close associate of the late founder of the group's founder, Paul Weyrich, for over 40 years. Cribb is a good friend (pdf) of former Heritage president Edwin Feulner.

These multiple cross-connections again suggest that the goal of defunding the left has been carried along by a small, tightly-knit group of conservatives for over 25 years, and that James O'Keefe's sting operation against ACORN is merely the latest step towards that goal.

Dick Armey, FreedomWorks, and the Tea Baggers

The crusade to defund the left has not been limited to attempts to discredit progressive organizations. The so-called K Street Project of the 1990's, which was intended to steer lobbyist contributions more towards Republicans and to shut out Democrats, had the same objective. So did Jack Abramoff's courting of Indian tribes in order to cut off payments that had previously gone largely to Democrats.

Even calls for "tort reform" -- which are now being raised again in connection with health care -- are intended to prevent trial lawyers, who are often generous Democratic donors, from receiving a share of large settlements in personal injury cases.

Attacks on federal funding of liberal non-profits, however, are particularly attractive as a strategy because most conservative non-profits receive the bulk of their funding from corporations and right-wing foundations and not from the federal government.

In 1995, the new Republican majority in Congress took part in a particularly ambitious -- though ultimately unsuccessful -- attempt to defund the left. According to a May 30, 1995 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which does not appear to be available online except through subscription-only sources):

"Congressional Republicans -- with the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas playing a key role -- are preparing a new budget-cutting assault on scores of government-funded nonprofit groups whose liberal views are considered a threat to the conservative agenda. ... The effort, referred to by conservatives as 'defunding the left,' is intended to take aim at what they consider advocacy groups that lobby for liberal social programs from which they receive grants and contracts."

The story went on to say, "Led by Virginia Lamp Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court justice, a special group of senior House Republican experts and staff members has been quietly working under the auspices of House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas. Their aim is to identify nonprofit organizations whose funding should be cut and to plan a strategy to end their grants or contracts with the government or the programs for which they provide services."

Thomas, who was then a policy analyst for Rep. Armey, later went to work for the Heritage Foundation. Armey himself left Congress in 2003 and became the co-chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy -- one of whose representatives had participated in that same 2001 "Defunding the Left" panel as Morton Blackwell and CRC's Terrence Scanlon. Armey's organization is now known as FreedomWorks and is the principal astroturf backer of the teabagger protests.

See more stories tagged with: conservatives, right wing, acorn, defund

Muriel Kane is director of research for Raw Story.

16-Year Old Got Life Without Parole for Killing Her Abusive Pimp -- Should Teens Be Condemned to Die in Jail?

Rights and Liberties

Two cases in the Supreme Court could alter the fates of over 2,500 people serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teenagers.

This article is the first in a two-part series about juveniles and harsh sentencing.

Sara Kruzan was 11 years old, a middle school student from Riverside, Calif., when she met a man -- he called himself GG -- who was almost three times her age. GG took her under his wing; he would buy her gifts, take her and her friends rollerskating. "He was like a father figure," she recalls.

Despite suffering severe bouts of depression as a child, until then, Kruzan was a good student, an "overachiever" in her words. But her mother was abusive and addicted to drugs; as for her father, she had only met him a couple of times. So, more and more, GG filled in.

"GG was there -- sometimes," she said. "He would talk to me and take me out and give me all these lavish gifts and do all these things for me …" Before long, he started talking to her about sex, giving her his expert advice on what men were really like and telling her that she didn't "need to give it up for free."

Unbeknownst to her, GG was grooming Kruzan to be a prostitute. When she was 13, he raped her. "He uses his manhood to hurt," Kruzan recalls, "Like, break you in. I guess."

Kruzan worked for GG as a prostitute for three years. The hours were 6 p.m. until 5:30 or 6 in the morning. She and "the other girls" would come back and hand over their earnings to him. "He was, like, married to all of us I guess," she says. " … Everything was his."

After years of prostitution and sexual abuse, when she was 16, Kruzan snapped: She killed GG, was arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. Despite attempts by her lawyer to have her sentenced as a juvenile, the judge described her crime as "well thought-out" and sentenced her to life without parole.

"My judge told me that I lacked moral scruples," she recalls, a term she did not know the meaning of.

But the meaning of her sentence was all too clear. Life without parole, she says, "means I'm gonna die here."

'These Children Were Literally Lost In Adult Prison'

A few years ago, Sara Kruzan's story grabbed the attention of California State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who introduced legislation to abolish the sentence of life without the possibility of parole for youth offenders. The bill was no get-out-of-jail pass; under his legislation, a juvenile who committed a felony before the age of 18 would serve a minimum of 25 years before being eligible to go before a parole board (also not a get-out-of-jail pass).

Yee is also a child psychologist. When it comes to judging the actions of teenagers versus those of adults, he argues, "the neuroscience is clear; brain maturation continues well through adolescence, and thus impulse control, planning and critical-thinking skills are still not yet fully developed."

Condemning teenagers to die in jail, then, means curtailing the lives of potentially productive members of society. "Children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults," Yee said. Anyway, didn't California's prison system rename itself the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation?

In politics, however, punitive almost always wins out -- particularly in California, where "three strikes" laws have led to a prison crisis unparalleled anywhere else in the country. Yee's bill met intense political resistance and eventually died.

This past February, he introduced a new, watered-down bill that, instead of eliminating life without parole for juveniles would provide a review of a youth offender's sentence after 10 years.

In 2005, Human Rights Watch published an unprecedented study, "The Rest of Their Lives: Life without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States," which found "at least 2,225 people incarcerated in the United States who have been sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for crimes they committed as children." Today, the number is even higher: 2,574.

It's only recently that the plight of juveniles serving life in adult prisons came across the national radar. Alison Parker, deputy director of the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch told AlterNet, "these children were literally lost in adult prison. Nobody paid attention to the fact that they were under 18 at the time of their offense."

But this could soon change. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a pair of cases -- Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida -- that will decide whether life sentences for juveniles violate the Constitution's ban on cruel-and-unusual punishment.

These cases follow the Court's landmark ruling in Roper v. Simmons four years ago, which struck down the death penalty for juvenile defendants on Eighth Amendment grounds. Echoing the opinion of Yee, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that juveniles have an "underdeveloped sense of responsibility" that leads to "impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions," as well as being "more susceptible to negative influences and peer pressure."

Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, the lead attorney in Sulliivan, argues that sentencing children to life without parole makes no more sense than sentencing them to death. In court filings for Sullivan, he writes, "The essential feature of a death sentence or a life-without-parole sentence is that it imposes a terminal, unchangeable, once-and-for-all judgment upon the whole life of a human being and declares that human being forever unfit to be a part of civil society."

Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners, including juveniles. According to EJI, out of the prisoners serving juvenile life without parole, more than half are first-time offenders. At least 74 involve defendants who were 14 years old or younger when they committed their crime.

"Almost all of these kids currently lack legal representation, and in most of these cases the propriety and constitutionality of their extreme sentences has never been reviewed."

'Beyond Help'

Among these 74 is Joe Sullivan, the defendant in Sullivan v. Florida. Sullivan, who is reportedly mentally disabled, was 13 years old in 1989 when he was accused of raping an elderly woman after a burglary carried out by an older group of teenagers. The older teenagers confessed to the burglary but pinned the rape on Sullivan, a charge he denied.

The older boys did time in juvenile prison and were then freed. Sullivan became the youngest prisoner to be sentenced to die in prison for a crime other than murder. "I am going to try to send him away for as long as I can," his trial judge said. "He is beyond help."

At 14, Sullivan was sent to an adult prison, where he was repeatedly sexually assaulted. Sullivan now is 33 years old. Stricken with multiple sclerosis, he is confined to a wheelchair.

Sullivan's case is emblematic of a number of problems when it comes to juveniles sentenced as adults, not the least of which is the phenomenon of youths either being coerced or getting caught up in criminal situations orchestrated by older teenagers or adults.

Among juvenile offenders, many have participated in violent crimes as a result of their relationship with a grown-up. Incredibly, this can mean getting a harsher sentence than the adult in question.

"There is this tendency to point the finger towards the younger co-defendant, sometimes because of the perception that the younger person will get a lesser sentence," says Alison Parker. "There's still this perception out there that kids will be treated differently, but the reality is that kids are treated like adults."

Another major factor is race. During Sullivan's trial, "the prosecutor and witnesses made repeated, unnecessary reference to the fact that Joe is African American and the victim (was) white," according to EJI. "One witness repeatedly said the perpetrator of the assault was a 'colored boy' or 'a dark colored boy.' "

It is not news that the American criminal justice system disproportionately targets people of color. But when it comes to juvenile offenders, Alison Parker calls the disparities "absolutely shocking." On a national level, "African American youth are serving the sentence at a rate of about 10 times that of white youth," Parker told AlterNet. "In some states, the rate is even higher."

In both cases before the Supreme Court, the defendants were sentenced to life for crimes that fell short of murder, a phenomenon that is especially prevalent In Florida, where the number of prisoners who will die in jail for non-homicide crimes hovers at 77.

Terrance Jamar Graham, the defendant in Graham v. Florida, was 17 years old and on probation for a crime he committed when he was 16, when he took part in an armed burglary. His co-defendants got minor sentences. He was slapped with life without parole.

"Mr. Graham, as I look back on your case, yours is really candidly a sad situation," the judge told him. "The only thing that I can rationalize is that you decided that this is how you were going to lead your life and there is nothing that we can do for you."

This is classic "three strikes" logic, which, along with the conspiracy and felony murder statutes have led teens to be sentenced to life for crimes in which they played only a minor role.

Take Christine Lockhart, the first female juvenile to be sentenced to life without parole in Iowa. She was 17 years old and sitting in a car when her boyfriend killed someone during an armed robbery. Today, she has been in prison for more than half her life.

Lockhart, along with Sara Kruzan are a relative minority, two out of some 175 women serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teenagers. But their stories reveal how young people can get caught up in dangerous, harmful, and ultimately deadly, situations often simply by being with the wrong people at the wrong time.

"Sara's story is compelling," says Parker. "But it is really one that is shared across the country. There are many, many people with similar circumstances who are serving life sentences without any possibility of parole."

Kruzan, in fact, is one of the lucky ones. She now has attorneys who are working on appealing her sentence, pro bono. Most other prisoners serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles have no post-conviction representation at all.

Today, Kruzan is 32 years old and described as a "model inmate," despite any real lack of incentive. ("Who wants to excel in prison?" she says.) Asked what she would say if she had a chance to appear before a a parole board, she says that she believes she can now be of some value to society, perhaps even a "positive example."

Also, she says, "I've learned what moral scruples are."

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See more stories tagged with: juveniles, life without parole, human rights watch, sara kruzan

Liliana Segura is an AlterNet staff writer and editor of Rights & Liberties and World Special Coverage. http://twitter.com/LilianaSegura

U.S. Releases Its Last Stockpile of Tamiflu for Children


U.S. Releases Its Stockpile of Tamiflu for Children

Published: October 30, 2009

Swine flu is sickening so many children across the country, some of them fatally, that federal health officials decided Friday to release the last of the national stockpile of children’s Tamiflu.

Swine flu is sickening so many children across the country, some of them fatally, that federal health officials decided Friday to release the last of the national stockpile of children’s Tamiflu.

Skip to next paragraph
Ibrahim Usta/Associated Press

On Friday, workers in Istanbul disinfectanted a primary school classroom as a precaution against swine flu.


Times Topics: Swine Flu (H1N1 Virus)

Barbara Lewis/Humco Holding Group

Bottles of Humco Cherry Syrup on the production line in Texas. It is a flavoring agent used for oral Tamiflu.

Even though the winter flu season has yet to begin, flu has now killed 114 children and teenagers in the United States since April, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the C.D.C. began tracking children’s flu deaths five years ago, the highest toll was 88, in the winter of 2007-8; many more children died in the pandemics of 1918, 1957 and 1968, but there are no accurate counts.

Dr. Frieden’s figures were for deaths confirmed by laboratories. On Thursday, the C.D.C. estimated that in the swine flu’s spring wave there were 2.7 deaths for each confirmed one, so the actual number of children’s deaths may be closer to 300.

On Oct. 1, anticipating shortages of liquid Tamiflu for children, the government released 300,000 doses from the national stockpile. On Friday, it released the last 234,000 doses.

It has ordered more from Roche, its Swiss manufacturer, but that is not expected to arrive before January, Dr. Frieden said.

In the meantime, federal officials are encouraging pharmacies to empty powder from adult capsules and dilute it with syrup into children’s doses. Some large pharmacy chains are already doing so. Presumably, the same could be done with the 37 million adult doses still in the stockpile. (The Strategic National Stockpile has many more adult doses because they are lighter and easier to manage, and because it was created in anticipation of a pandemic of avian flu, which was not known to disproportionately affect children.)

Terence Hurley, a spokesman for Roche, said Friday that the company would have more of the liquid version to send to private pharmacies in December.

In addition, Dr. Frieden said he would consider importing generic Tamiflu if it could win Food and Drug Administration approval. The generic name is oseltamivir.

Yusuf Hamied, the chairman of Cipla Ltd., an Indian company that makes the only oseltamivir other than Roche’s to be approved by the World Health Organization, said he could supply the United States with about one million children’s doses in four to six weeks.

“Cipla is more than willing to cooperate in any way possible,” Mr. Hamied said. “I’ll work my factories night and day if necessary.”

His price, he said, would be 20 to 30 percent below Roche’s.

Roche has vastly increased its Tamiflu production in the last few years, in part to keep governments from canceling its patents or buying generic rivals during pandemic emergencies. Of the 114 children who have died, more than two-thirds had some kind of underlying health problem, Dr. Frieden said.

Local newspaper reports of deaths around the country have included children with cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and other illnesses. But they have also included children who were healthy and athletic and yet died quickly and unexpectedly.

One disturbing trend, Dr. Frieden said, was that a C.D.C. survey showed that only about half of all people with flu symptoms who also had other potentially dangerous medical problems like diabetes, asthma or lung and heart disease sought care from a doctor.

“People with underlying conditions who have a fever or cough should see their provider promptly,” he said.

Deaths are expected to keep rising, he said. Flu activity is now widespread in 48 states, up from 46 last week. Hospitalizations start to go up about a week after people start falling ill in any community, and deaths tend to lag two to three weeks behind that, Dr. Frieden said.

People are usually ill for a few days before they are hospitalized, and dangerously ill people are usually on ventilators for at least a week before they recover or die. Laboratory reports and autopsies create further delays in reporting deaths.

There are now nearly 27 million doses of swine flu vaccine available, Dr. Frieden said, up from 16 million a week ago. The clamor for the shots continues to rise, however, and even some cities that had many cases in the spring, like Boston, are seeing a second wave.

Dr. Frieden singled out Maine as having done a particularly good job of vaccinating schoolchildren by creating teams that pulled them out of classes briefly for shots.

Maine had a serious flu outbreak in its summer camps; it also has a small population.

Dr. Frieden said he was “encouraged” when any school could vaccinate half its student body.

“We don’t expect to see anything like 80 or 90 percent of kids being vaccinated,” he said, “though if that happened, it would be great.”

Also on Friday, the World Health Organization said it would soon start shipping swine flu vaccine to 95 poor and middle-income countries.

About 200 million doses have been donated by from various countries and vaccine makers.

That will cover only 2 to 3 percent of the need, but the W.H.O.’s eventual goal is to provide enough vaccine for 10 percent of those countries’ populations.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

The Myth of the Rational Voter:
Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

Bryan Caplan

Winner of the 2008 Silver Independent Publisher Book Medal, Current Events Category

"This engaging and provocative volume describes why democracy gives us far less than its promise."

The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand.

Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans' voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better--for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and recommending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack.

The Myth of the Rational Voter takes an unflinching look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdue reappraisal of our elective system.

Bryan Caplan is Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University. He and Arnold Kling edit the Weblog EconLog.


"The best political book this year."--Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

"Caplan thinks that democracy as it is now practiced cannot be salvaged, and his position is based on a simple observation: 'Democracy is a commons, not a market.'"--Louis Menand, The New Yorker

"One of the two or three best books on public choice in the last twenty years."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"Like a few recent best sellers--Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, The Wisdom of Crowds--The Myth of the Rational Voter unwraps economic theories and applies them to everyday life. Mr. Caplan's thesis, though, lacks any semblance of a compliment: The 'unwisdom of crowds' is closer to his point. He believes that the American public is biased against sensible, empirically proved economic policies about which nearly all economists agree. Voters, he says, are not just ignorant in the sense of having insufficient information. They actually hold wrong-headed and damaging beliefs about how the economy works."--Daniel Casse, The Wall Street Journal

"The Myth of the Rational Voter usefully extends the discussion [about democracy] by linking it with 'public choice' theory. . . . Public choice theory faces a dilemma. A rational and self-interested person has no incentive to study political issues, as the chances of his or her determining the outcome are negligible. This has become known as 'rational ignorance'. Caplan maintains that the reality is much worse. He shows that voters are not just ignorant but systematically biased in favor of mistaken views."--Samuel Brittan, Financial Times

"Caplan is right to detect a stubborn irrationality in ordinary voters and he correctly points out to his rational choice colleagues that their models are hopelessly unrealistic."--Martin Leet, Australian Review of Public Affairs

More reviews


"Caplan argues convincingly that irrational behaviour is pervasive among many of us today....Caplan's point, however, is that most voters are irrational. And that is worse than being ignorant....Their irrationality comes with a host of misconceptions that drive policy choices."--Fazil Mihlar, The Vancouver Sun

"This engaging and provocative volume describes why democracy gives us far less than its promise. Countering existing theories of rationally ignorant voters, Caplan argues persuasively that voters are irrational, registering systematically biased beliefs--and consequently votes--against markets and other sound economy policy metrics...[T]his is a compelling book, offering readers a well-written and well-argued competing theory for why democracy fails and why we should limit what is done through the political process."--M. Steckbeck, Choice

"[Caplan] argues that voters' own irrational biases, rather than flaws in the democratic process, compel voters to support policies that are not in their interest. While one may quibble with his specifics, the overall argument is convincing and applicable across a variety of fields...Forces the reader to take a second look at our nation's unshakable faith in the wisdom of the electorate."--Pio Szamel, Harvard Political Review

"A brilliant and disturbing analysis of decision making by electorates that--[Caplan] documents--are perversely ignorant and woefully misinformed."--Neil Reynolds, The Globe and Mail


"Caplan offers readers a delightful mixture of economics, political science, psychology, philosophy, and history to resolve a puzzle that, at one time or another, has intrigued every student of public policy."--N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University, former chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers

"Why democracies so often make a hash out of economic policy is one of the great questions of political economy. Bryan Caplan suggests some provocative, and highly original, answers. This book may make you smile or it may make you scowl, but it will definitely not make you bored."--Alan S. Blinder, Princeton University

"The Myth of the Rational Voter discredits the fashionable view that democratic politics necessarily prevents socially harmful policies. Voters lack incentives to become well informed about political controversies, Bryan Caplan shows, and their policy choices tend to be based on deeply, persistently, and systematically mistaken models of reality. Caplan's findings lead inexorably to the conclusion that democratic governance can be improved only through reforms based on realistic assumptions about human cognition. Anyone concerned about political efficiency should read this elegant book carefully."--Timur Kuran, author of Islam and Mammon

"Bryan Caplan blends economics, political science, and psychology in an arresting and informative polemic that is witty, crisp, cogent, provocative, and timely. You may or may not agree with his assessment of our democracy, but you will be entertained, challenged, and perhaps angered, but also enlightened."--Scott Keeter, Pew Research Center

"The argument Caplan offers is basically right and is extremely important. I suspect this book will stir up a certain amount of controversy. The argument challenges conventional public choice in that it radically undermines the notion of substantively rational voting. At the same time, it is in the same skeptical tradition as public-choice orthodoxy, challenging the claims of democratic enthusiasts. It is a book that deserves to be taken very seriously."--Geoffrey Brennan, coauthor of The Economy of Esteem

"Poorly informed voters are a big problem in democracy, and Caplan makes the interesting argument that this is not necessarily a problem that can be easily fixed--it may be fundamental to the system. Caplan thinks that voting itself is the problem."--Andrew Gelman, Columbia University

Return to Book Description

Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION: The Paradox of Democracy 1
CHAPTER 1: Beyond the Miracle of Aggregation 5
CHAPTER 2: Systematically Biased Beliefs about Economics 23
CHAPTER 3: Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy 50
CHAPTER 4: Classical Public Choice and the Failure of Rational Ignorance 94
CHAPTER 5: Rational Irrationality 114
CHAPTER 6: From Irrationality to Policy 142
CHAPTER 7: Irrationality and the Supply Side of Politics 166
CHAPTER 8: "Market Fundamentalism" versus the Religion of Democracy 182
CONCLUSION: In Praise of the Study of Folly 205

Another Princeton book by Bryan Caplan:

Subject Areas:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chamber of Commerce Sues Yes Men


October 28, 2009 11:14 AM

Chamber of Commerce Sues Yes Men

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing the Yes Men, activist group that fooled several media outlets into reporting that the chamber had changed its position on climate change legislation. Meanwhile, pressure continues to mount against the business lobbying group for its opposition to the legislation.

The chamber filed a civil complaint this week against the Yes Men to protect its trademark and other intellectual property from unlawful use.

The activists, aiming to bring attention to the chamber's opposition to the climate bill, last week managed to dupe the media with a fake press release with the chamber's logo announcing the business group had it changed its position on the legislation and was also supporting the adoption of a carbon tax. The Yes Men also managed to lure reporters to a press conference at the National Press club where, standing at a podium adorned with the chamber's logo, a member of the activist group pretended to be a representative of the chamber.

"The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment," said Steven Law, general counsel for the chamber, according to the Associated Press. "Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies and other merchandise."

The Yes Men's Andy Bichlbaum told MarketWatch that the stunt was designed to call attention to the Chamber's opposition to the climate bill. He said he welcomed legal action from the business group for using its logo because "it would bring even more attention to the issue."

The chamber's opposition to climate change legislation has compelled some utility companies, as well as other businesses like Apple, to leave the group. The environmental organization Greenpeace is now asking other technology companies, including Google, Microsoft and IBM, to follow Apple's lead.

"The [information technology] industry stands to profit significantly by selling energy efficient tech solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, yet has been dramatically outspent and mostly silent in support of strong climate policies in the United States or internationally," Greenpeace said in a statement. "Instead, IT companies continue to fund the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's regressive and destructive stance on climate issues, even when unaligned with their own climate policies."

As hearings begin on Capitol Hill over the Senate's climate change legislation, the focus is currently largely on the measure's economic impact, the Washington Post reports.

Breaking News: Meat Consumption Increases Risk of Diabetes

Breaking Medical News

Meat Consumption Increases Risk of Diabetes

A new review published in the journal Diabetologia adds more evidence linking meat consumption to diabetes risk. The people who ate the most meat had the highest risk of type 2 diabetes. Intakes of red meat and processed meat were associated with 21 and 41 percent increased risk, respectively. The study was a systematic review compiling data from 12 prior studies.

Aune D, Ursin G, Veierod MB. Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia. 2009;52:2277-2287.

For information about nutrition and health, please visit www.pcrm.org/.

Breaking Medical News is a service of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20016.

Breaking Medical News

More Vegetables for Mom Decreases Risk of Diabetes for Baby

In a new study published in Pediatric Diabetes, researchers found that women who consumed the least amount of vegetables during pregnancy were more likely to have babies who developed type 1 diabetes.

Compared with women who ate vegetables daily, those consuming vegetables only three to five times per week had a 71 percent increased risk of having a child with diabetes.

Brekke HK, Ludvigsson J. Daily vegetable intake during pregnancy negatively associated to islet autoimmunity in the offspring – The ABIS study. Pediatr Diabetes. Advanced access published September 16, 2009. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-5448.2009.00563.x.

For information about nutrition and health, please visit www.pcrm.org/.

Breaking Medical News is a service of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20016.

Ayn Rand and the Sick World She invented

Sunday Book Review

Ayn Rand’s Revenge

Published: October 29, 2009

A specter is haunting the Republican Party — the specter of John Galt. In Ayn Rand’s libertarian epic “Atlas Shrugged,” Galt, an inventor disgusted by creeping American collectivism, leads the country’s capitalists on a retributive strike. “We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it,” Galt lectures the “looters” and “moochers” who make up the populace. “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.”

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Allyn Baum/The New York Times

Ayn Rand in Manhattan in 1957.


By Anne C. Heller

Illustrated. 567 pp. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. $35


Excerpt: ‘Ayn Rand and the World She Made’ (November 1, 2009)

Times Topics: Ayn Rand

Janet Maslin’s Review of ‘Ayn Rand and the World She Made’ and ‘Goddess of the Market’ (October 22, 2009)


Lester Kraus

Ayn Rand in 1964.

“Atlas Shrugged” was published 52 years ago, but in the Obama era, Rand’s angry message is more resonant than ever before. Sales of the book have reportedly spiked. At “tea parties” and other conservative protests, alongside the Obama-as-Joker signs, you will find placards reading “Atlas Shrugs” and “Ayn Rand Was Right.” Not long after the inauguration, as right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck were invoking Rand and issuing warnings of incipient socialism, Representative John Campbell, Republican of California, told a reporter that the prospect of rising taxes and government regulation meant “people are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ ”

Rand’s style of vehement individualism has never been universally popular among conservatives — back in 1957, Whittaker Chambers denounced the “wickedness” of “Atlas Shrugged” in National Review — and Rand still has her critics on the right today. But it can often seem, as Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic recently observed, that “Rand is everywhere in this right-wing mood.” And while it’s not hard to understand Rand’s revenge-fantasy appeal to those on the right, would-be Galts ought to hear the story Anne C. Heller has to tell in her dramatic and very timely biography, “Ayn Rand and the World She Made.”

For one thing, it is far more interesting than anything in Rand’s novels. That is because Heller is dealing with a human being, and one with more than her share of human failings and contradictions — “gallant, driven, brilliant, brash, cruel . . . and ultimately self-destructive,” as Heller puts it. The characters Rand created, on the other hand — like Galt or Howard Roark, the architect hero of “The Fountainhead” — are abstract principles set to moving and talking.

This is at once the failure and the making of Rand’s fiction. The plotting and characterization in her books may be vulgar and unbelievable, just as one would expect from the middling Holly­wood screenwriter she once was; but her message, while not necessarily more sophisticated, is magnified by the power of its absolute sincerity. It is the message that turned her, from the publication of “Atlas Shrugged” in 1957 until her death in 1982, into the leader of a kind of sect. (This season, another Rand book, by the academic historian Jennifer Burns, is aptly titled “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right.”) Even today, Rand’s books sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year. Heller reports that in a poll in the early ’90s, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, “Americans named ‘Atlas Shrugged’ the book that had most influenced their lives,” second only to the Bible.

Rand’s particular intellectual contribution, the thing that makes her so popular and so American, is the way she managed to mass market elitism — to convince so many people, especially young people, that they could be geniuses without being in any concrete way distinguished. Or, rather, that they could distinguish themselves by the ardor of their commitment to Rand’s teaching. The very form of her novels makes the same point: they are as cartoonish and sexed-up as any best seller, yet they are constantly suggesting that the reader who appreciates them is one of the elect.

Heller maintains an appropriately critical perspective on her subject — she writes that she is “a strong admirer, albeit one with many questions and reservations” — while allowing the reader to understand the power of Rand’s conviction and her odd charisma. Rand labored for more than two years on Galt’s radio address near the end of “Atlas Shrugged” — a long paean to capitalism, individualism and selfishness that makes Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good” sound like the Sermon on the Mount. “At one point, she stayed inside the apartment, working for 33 days in a row,” Heller writes. She kept going on amphetamines and willpower; the writing, she said, was a “drops-of-water-in-a-desert kind of torture.” Nor would Rand, sooner than any other desert prophet, allow her message to be trifled with. When Bennett Cerf, a head of Random House, begged her to cut Galt’s speech, Rand replied with what Heller calls “a comment that became publishing legend”: “Would you cut the Bible?” One can imagine what Cerf thought — he had already told Rand plainly, “I find your political philosophy abhorrent” — but the strange thing is that Rand’s grandiosity turned out to be perfectly justified.

In fact, any editor certainly would cut the Bible, if an agent submitted it as a new work of fiction. But Cerf offered Rand an alternative: if she gave up 7 cents per copy in royalties, she could have the extra paper needed to print Galt’s oration. That she agreed is a sign of the great contradiction that haunts her writing and especially her life. Politically, Rand was committed to the idea that capitalism is the best form of social organization invented or conceivable. This was, perhaps, an understandable reaction against her childhood experience of Communism. Born in 1905 as Alissa Rosenbaum to a Jewish family in St. Petersburg, she was 12 when the Bolsheviks seized power, and she endured the ensuing years of civil war, hunger and oppression. By 1926, when she came to live with relatives in the United States and changed her name, she had become a relentless enemy of every variety of what she denounced as “collectivism,” from Soviet Communism to the New Deal. Even Republicans weren’t immune: after Wendell Willkie’s defeat in 1940, Rand helped to found an organization called Associated Ex-Willkie Workers Against Willkie, berating the candidate as “the guiltiest man of any for destroying America, more guilty than Roosevelt.”

Yet while Rand took to wearing a dollar-sign pin to advertise her love of capitalism, Heller makes clear that the author had no real affection for dollars themselves. Giving up her royalties to preserve her vision is something that no genuine capitalist, and few popular novelists, would have done. It is the act of an intellectual, of someone who believes that ideas matter more than lucre. In fact, as Heller shows, Rand had no more reverence for the actual businessmen she met than most intellectuals do. The problem was that, according to her own theories, the executives were supposed to be as creative and admirable as any artist or thinker. They were part of the fraternity of the gifted, whose strike, in “Atlas Shrugged,” brings the world to its knees.

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David Hume Kennerly/Gerald R. Ford Library

At the Oval Office, 1974. From left are Rose Goldsmith, mother of Alan Greenspan; President Ford; Greenspan; Rand; and her husband, Frank O’Connor.


By Anne C. Heller

Illustrated. 567 pp. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. $35


Excerpt: ‘Ayn Rand and the World She Made’ (November 1, 2009)

Times Topics: Ayn Rand

Janet Maslin’s Review of ‘Ayn Rand and the World She Made’ and ‘Goddess of the Market’ (October 22, 2009)


Rand’s inclusion of businessmen in the ranks of the Übermenschen helps to explain her appeal to free-marketeers — including Alan Greenspan — but it is not convincing. At bottom, her individualism owed much more to Nietzsche than to Adam Smith (though Rand, typically, denied any influence, saying only that Nie­tzsche “beat me to all my ideas.” But “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” never sold a quarter of a million copies a year.

Rand’s potent message could lead to intoxication and even to madness, as the second half of her life showed. In 1949, Rand was living with her husband, a mild-mannered former actor named Frank O’Connor, in Southern California, in a Richard Neutra house. Then she got a fan letter from a 19-year-old college freshman named Nathan Blumenthal and invited him to visit. Rand, whose books are full of masterful, sexually dominating heroes, quickly fell in love with this confused boy, whom she decided was the “intellectual heir” she had been waiting for.

The decades of psychodrama that followed read, in Heller’s excellent account, like “Phèdre” rewritten by Edward Albee. When Blumenthal, who changed his name to Nathaniel Branden, moved to New York, Rand followed him; she inserted herself into her protégé’s love life, urging him to marry his girlfriend; then Rand began to sleep with Branden, insisting that both their spouses be kept fully apprised of what was going on. Heller shows how the Brandens formed the nucleus of a growing group of young Rand followers, a herd of individualists who nicknamed themselves “the Collective” — ironically, but not ironically enough, for they began to display the frightening group-think of a true cult. One journalist Heller refers to wondered how Rand “charmed so many young people into quoting John Galt as religiously as ‘clergymen quote Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.’ ”

Inevitably, it all ended in tears, when Branden fell in love with a young actress and was expelled from Rand’s circle forever. That he went on to write several best-­selling books of popular psychology “and earned the appellation ‘father of the self-esteem movement’ ” is the kind of finishing touch that makes truth stranger than fiction. For if there is one thing Rand’s life shows, it is the power, and peril, of unjustified self-esteem.

Adam Kirsch is a senior editor at The New Republic and a columnist for Tablet Magazine. He is the author, most recently, of “Benjamin Disraeli.”






We all know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945
after being hit by the first atomic bombs.
However we know little about the progress made by the people of that land

during the past 64 years.


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