Time for U.S. to Stop Shielding Israel | Brookings Institution

We are now set for a third term for Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. And, although Netanyahu’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition seems to have underperformed expectations, a plurality of the vote will allow him to once again lead Israel’s government.

But even a somewhat moderated Netanyahu government will continue to advance radical positions that put regional and global security in danger. The question, then, is how the United States can best push another right-wing administration to behave in accordance with the principles of the international security system – and its own national interests.

Over the past two Netanyahu terms, the international community, and the United States in particular, adopted an approach based on accommodation when dealing with the Netanyahu government. The hope was that this approach would contain the risks this extremist government posed to international security. Yet just as that strategy did not work then, it will not work now. The United States must therefore now take a harder line with Israel’s coming government – it must switch from a strategy of accommodation to one of confrontation, and it should start by letting fall its diplomatic shield.

via Time for U.S. to Stop Shielding Israel | Brookings Institution.

12 ways Obama’s inauguration speech humiliated the Tea Party – Salon.com

With its elegant rendering of the liberal agenda before the eyes of the American people, President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address was music to the ears of many a progressive. But to the ears of Tea Partiers and the Republican right, this inauguration speech, as well as the ceremony that surrounded it, was war — not just a war of words, but a war of prayer, a war of poetry and even, perhaps, a war of song.

Driving the message home were the hands of the Fates, who conspired to see the second inauguration of the nation’s first African American president fall on Martin Luther King Day, the national holiday whose very creation was opposed by so many who still today comprise the Republican Party’s right wing.

Here we recount a dozen ways in which the president brought his fight to the right, in no uncertain terms, at his second inauguration.

via 12 ways Obama’s inauguration speech humiliated the Tea Party – Salon.com.

Inauguration 2013: Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem ‘One Today’ – latimes.com

The following poem was delivered by inauguration poet Richard Blanco during ceremonies for  President Obama’s second inaugural Monday. The text of the poem was provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,

peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces

of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth

across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.

One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story

told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

 

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,

each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:

pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,

fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows

begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,

on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did

for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

 

via Inauguration 2013: Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem ‘One Today’ – latimes.com.

Our eyes are bigger than our stomach › Dr Karl’s Great Moments In Science (ABC Science)

We humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, and for most of that time, food has been hard to get. We’ve had a relatively stable food supply (thanks to agriculture) for only about 10,000 years.

Now lots of people have weird relationships with food. For example, did you know that if you are offered varying amounts of food on a plate, you’ll end up eating more if there’s more food on the plate? This can happen regardless of how hungry you are.

Welcome to the famous portion size effect.

via Our eyes are bigger than our stomach › Dr Karl’s Great Moments In Science (ABC Science).

Blackcaps: a new winter visitor to our gardens | Life and style | guardian.co.uk

The number of blackcaps visiting our feeders in winter has increased fourfold since the 1970s, according to the British Trust for Ornithology. This may not appear to be interesting news – birds adapt all the time and the last 10 years has seen an increase in the number of goldfinches, long-tailed tits and, more recently, bullfinches visiting our gardens to take advantage of the food we put out for them. But blackcaps are supposed to be in Spain at this time of year.

via Blackcaps: a new winter visitor to our gardens | Life and style | guardian.co.uk.

Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa? | Joanna Blythman | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it its keen-wa, not qui-no-a, yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fitted in with government healthy eating advice to “base your meals on starchy foods”.Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Vegans embraced quinoa as a credibly nutritious substitute for meat. Unusual among grains, quinoa has a high protein content between 14%-18%, and it contains all those pesky, yet essential, amino acids needed for good health that can prove so elusive to vegetarians who prefer not to pop food supplements.

via Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa? | Joanna Blythman | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

India’s Empty Democracy Can’t Protect Its People – Bloomberg

Elections make for responsive and accountable governments, or so goes the truism. But can they also achieve the opposite — that is, encourage complacency, even callousness, among elected representatives?

Last month’s headlines from India and China present a disquieting contrast between elected and unelected governments for anyone committed to democratic politics.

About Pankaj Mishra»

Pankaj Mishra is the author of “Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond,” … MORE

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In Beijing, China’s new Communist Party general secretary, Xi Jinping, has begun a huge crackdown on corruption, official pomp and ceremony, and “empty talk” — substanceless speeches.

via India’s Empty Democracy Can’t Protect Its People – Bloomberg.

Australia’s Climate Inferno “Encroaching on Entirely New Territory” : Climate Desk

Australia’s top government-appointed climate commissioner says this week’s heatwave is occurring amid record-breaking weather around the world. “This has been a landmark event for me,” Professor Tim Flannery told Climate Desk from his home in Melbourne. “When you start breaking records, and you do it consistently, and you see it over and over again, that is a good indication there’s a shift underway—this is not just within the normal variation of things.”

via Australia’s Climate Inferno “Encroaching on Entirely New Territory” : Climate Desk.

Explained in 90 Seconds: What the @#% Is Climate Change Doing to El Niño? : Climate Desk

Imagine this is your office: a tropical island skirted by coral-packed azure waters, somewhere near the equator between Hawaii and Tahiti. Your job involves a lot of swimming. Tough, huh? “My field research is the best part of my job,” says Kim Cobb, Associate Professor of Climate Change at Georgia Institute of Technology. “It’s probably the reason I have stuck with corals for the last 15 years.”Stuck with, and collected and sampled. For the past seven years, Cobb and her lab team have been recontructing the history of El Niño events across several millenia by taking core samples from corals in the Pacific. That process has uncovered reams of fresh climate data. And it’s within this new, longer baseline of temperatures from the tropical Pacific that Cobb spotted something surprising: “The 20th century is significantly, statistically stronger in its El Niño Southern Oscillation activity than this long, baseline average,” Cobb says. El Niño events have gotten worse.

via Explained in 90 Seconds: What the @#% Is Climate Change Doing to El Niño? : Climate Desk.