From Liberation to Assassination

Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army Colonel, Boston University professor, author of Washington Rules, and editor most recently of The Short American Century, talks about the changing face of the so-called global war on terror. Also check his scorecard for the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism.

Wislawa Szymborska, R.I.P

The great Polish poet and Nobel laureate is no more. Katha Pollit of The Nation pays tribute

In the way that you can be surprised when someone dies, no matter how rationally foreseeable the death is, I was startled to open my New York Times on February 2 and find an obituary for Wislawa Szymborska, the great Polish poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1996. Only 88, I wanted to say. Much too young.

Szymborska’s poems are mostly short, and her output was not voluminous—only around 400 published poems. And yet, she is one of the few contemporary poets you can call beloved and not have it be a condescension or an insult. In The New York Review of Books Charles Simic called her poems “poetry’s equivalent of expository writing,” which captures their accessibility, their logical clarity and their interest in facts (especially odd ones), stories, things and people, but doesn’t convey their charm or vitality. Expository writing is, after all, a required class for college freshmen—the opposite of fun, dazzle, originality, pathos. For me, Szymborska’s signature quality is the way she puts tragedy and comedy, the unique and the banal, the big and the little, the remembering and the forgetting, right next to each other and shows us that this is what life is:

After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won’t pick
themselves up, after all.

Someone has to shove
the rubble to the roadsides
so the carts loaded with corpses
can get by.

—from “The End and the Beginning”

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Alex Salmond on Scottish Independence

David Frost speaks to Alex Salmond on Scottish Independence and Paul Krugman on the private debt crisis.

Many Scots now want to leave the UK, but will it be enough to win a referendum on independence in 2014? Sir David Frost speaks to the man who has led the movement for independence, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond.

Heart & Mind-O-Matic

From the great, Pulitzer-Prize winning political cartoonist Mark Fiore.

Learn all about the US drone program in Pakistan and other lucky countries across the globe! See how fortunate one young villager is to have the US looking out for him and fighting extremism. Never mind the attacks on funerals and rescuers. A Mark Fiore political animation.

America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama

Ralph Nader ’58 and Bruce Fein ’72 visited Harvard Law School for a talk sponsored by the HLS Forum and the Harvard Law Record. At the event, “America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama,” both men discussed what they called lawless, violent practices by the White House and its agencies that have become institutionalized by both political parties.

Cold, Cold Heart

by Kathy Kelly

It’s Valentine’s Day, and opening the little cartoon on the Google page brings up a sentimental animation with Tony Bennett singing “why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart.”

Here in Dubai, where I’m awaiting a visa to visit Afghanistan, the weather is already warm and humid.  But my bags are packed with sweaters because Kabul is still reeling from the coldest winter on record.  Two weeks ago, eight children under age five froze to death there in one of the sprawling refugee camps inhabited by so many who have fled from the battles in other provinces.  Since January 15, at least 23 children under 5 have frozen to death in the camps.

And just over a week ago, eight young shepherds, all but one under 14 years of age, lit a fire for warmth on the snowy Afghan mountainside in Kapisa Province where they were helping support their families by grazing sheep.  French troops saw the fire, and acted on faulty information, and the boys were all killed in two successive NATO airstrikes.  The usual denunciations from local authorities, and Western apologies, followed. (Trend News, February 10, 2012).

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