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MIDDLE-FINGER SALUTE: Challenges mount to US leadership
May 17th, 2015 by Warren Swil

America’s global influence

evaporates along with

its moral authority

Jeb Bush was tongue-tied when asked about brother George’s disastrous invasion of Iraq.

As if we need a reminder that George W. Bush irreparably damaged US moral authority, we discovered this week that not even Jeb Bush wants to own his brother’s legacy.
More than a dozen years on from the disastrous invasion of Iraq on false pretenses, the week began with a presidential snub by the king of Saudi Arabia and ended with a repudiation of the 40-year US war on drugs in South America.
These international setbacks come after more than six months of racially charged police violence which has laid bare a corrupt criminal justice system; a continuing debate in Congress over illegal government spying on Americans; and the unseemly money race now fully engaged by 2016 presidential hopefuls.
Its no wonder the US ability to influence global events is at its lowest ebb in generations. It is setting an example few should want to emulate.


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All you need to know about Baltimore strife (with video)

AMERICA’S EXPERT DAVID SIMON LAYS BARE ROOTS OF TRAGIC EVENTS
To truly understand the recent strife in Baltimore, one need consult only America’s foremost expert on the thoroughly corrupt criminal justice system in that city.
Former Baltimore Sun police reporter and acclaimed television producer David Simon almost predicted an explosion of resentment in Baltimore in his acclaimed five-season HBO dramatic series The Wire.
Just before Baltimore erupted in flames, in a conversation with President Obama on March 26, 2015, Simon nailed the problem and offered the solution: end the “war on drugs” immediately and redirect all the resources to treatment, job training and economic reindustrialization.


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CODE RED: Health care hack raises threat level

MASSIVE ANTHEM BREACH MORE SERIOUS THAN MERE CREDIT CARD HEISTS
The revelation that hackers stole about 80 million customer records of one of the largest health insurers has laid bare the vulnerability of vital personal data held by medical providers.
It reveals the soft underbelly of massive, online healthcare databases that are difficult to protect and expose virtually everyone to devastating harm.
In an increasingly connected world, data security must be at the top of the agenda of those who hold the keys to so many people’s identity.


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‘RAIN OF TERROR’: The real threat to free speech

SELF-CENSORSHIP ON THE RISE IN WAKE OF FRANCE’S NIGHTMARE
The horrific three-day terrorism spree in France has evoked a spirited and widespread debate over limits to offensive speech.
It is most difficult to defend free speech rights when the content is hateful, denigrating or offensive. But this is when they must be most vigorously defended; otherwise we risk embarking on a slippery slope towards the darkness of censorship.
The events in France challenge our tolerance. Let’s hope we can meet it head on, and not cave to those who would silence critics, however sharp their criticism.


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2014: The year of the hack

BRAZEN ATTACKS SHRED FAITH IN DATA SECURITY
The major hacks of data at Target and Sony bookend a year in which data privacy and security have been a dominant theme in the news.
Never before has it seemed we are such risk from unseen, unknown threats. You are not alone if you have little faith that government and businesses cannot be trusted with your data.
Technical fixes are good, but there can be no substitute for exercising caution when using electronic communications of all types. Awareness is the most important starting point for all of us.


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Putin panic: ‘From hero to zero’

ECONOMY IN FREE FALL AS RUSSIAN LEADER’S POPULARITY PEAKS

As the Russian economy was slammed on global financial markets, Russians voted their President Vladimir Putin the ‘politician of the year’ for the 15th consecutive time.
But, as the financial crisis spreads to the real economy, it will become impossible to conceal from Russians confronted with spiraling prices, government cutbacks and a worthless currency.
Putin’s popularity will plummet, along with the price of a barrel of oil and the implosion of the Russian economy.


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Torture report ‘shame and disgrace’

US MORAL AUTHORITY SINKS TO A NEW LOW
There is only one good thing to say about the U.S. Senate’s report on torture: that it was made public.
The entire world is now lumping the US together with those like China, Iran and North Korea who are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to respect for human rights.
The only difference remains the candor of America when it comes to recognizing its mistakes. The very release of the report is the one bright spot in an otherwise dark and dismal chapter of our history.


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Privacy lost: A pact with the devil?

Hidden cost of technology slowly becomes apparent
As we rush headlong into the era of constant connectivity through mobile devices, the price we are paying in surrendering our privacy is coming into sharper focus.
We are marching blindly into a future where even the most personal and private information is collected and stored on a server somewhere. We should do so with a heightened awareness of the hidden cost of the perceived convenience of hyper connectivity.


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Time to end ‘war on drugs,’ starting with marijuana

NYT’S CALL FOR LEGAL POT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH
While The New York Times’ prominent series of editorials calling for legalizing marijuana is laudable, it misses the real target.
The conversation should not start and end with pot. We need to mobilize in support of the proposition that substance abuse in general is not a matter for the criminal justice system at all.
Instead, it is a public health issue. Civilized countries have long moved in this direction. The US needs to evolve from incarcerating substance abusers to treating them.


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REALPOLITIK: Jetliner attack unlikely to spark World War III

RUSSIA’S PUTIN HAS GLOBAL ECONOMY OVER A BARREL – FOR NOW
The muted reaction to the downing of a passenger jet by those in a position to do something about it reflects the new realities of an interconnected, mutually-dependent global economy.
The chief villain in western eyes, the Russian Federation has become a strategically significant player in the global economy.
If this acts to restrain the hotheads who would immediately bomb Moscow in retaliation, the entire world can breathe a sigh of relief.


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