Interesting on a few levels:
1) The continuing US intervention in Latin American politics, particularly focused on the "drug war"
2) The international drug war as cultural imperialism
3) The distortion of information as it passes up a heirarchy, so that the decision makers at the top are living in a fantasy world.
Corporate Crime Reporter: crime without conviction report
Via NPR (Day to Day, Marketplace)
The Corporate Crime Repoter has a new report detailing how federal prosecuters strike deals to avoid charging corporations with crimes. Basically, they do everything they can to focus on individuals within the corporation, leaving the corporation as a whole untouched. There are also reports of inappropriate behavior on the part of prosecutors, such as forcing the corporations to give money to particular schools in exchange for getting off the hook.
Threw the Book at 'Em: BLOG: SciAm Observations (Religion in public schools)
Scientific American has some commentary on the Dover "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design" court case. Basically, I see this as a significant defeat for those who would have the state sponsor religion, but I still sympathize with the Fundamentalists out there, as this situation illustrates how it is practically impossible to separate "education" from the rest of life, including religion.
China has a lot of problems. News like this raises the prospect that another revolution may be brewing in China. The implications for the rest of the world would be immense. Specifically, I think about all of the foreign investment in China, and wonder how the USA and other capitalist governments would respond to a popular revolution that expropriates foreign assets in China. Is China so big that foreign governments would just have to sit back and let it run it's own course, or would they intervene as they did during the Russian and Cuban revolutions? Will they villianize a revolutionary government, and long for the days that the "progressive" Communist Party ruled China?
The American auto industry--[Mackinac Center for Public Policy]Making Promises That Can be Kept�
A couple of conservative friends of mine have declared that "the unions are responsible for the problems of the auto-makers." I haven't heard much about this issue, so I assume that some sort of fuss is being made in the right-wing media. A more moderate friend pointed out that the auto-makers had (of course) agreed to the contracts that are strangling them, so they are as much to blame as anyone.
To really help Michigan manufacturers and their employees move from pensions to something more secure, the federal government must make unionism voluntary. The concept that only 50.1 percent of workers in an industry can force union representation upon every other worker is untenable.
Notice how subtly he twists the meaning of the term "force" so that union shops "force" workers to join the union, but employers don't "force" workers to come to work. Also, he's not calling for the end of government regulation of labor relations, just for these regulations to be changed in favor of business.
Gulf coast homeowners with mortgages received three-month forebearances on their loans, but now many banks are starting to demand payments. The Federal Housing Administration will step in to provide interest-free loans covering one year's mortgage payments to the 20,000 homeowners with Federally insured loans, as long as those homes will be habitable within that time period.
I've long been a fan of open document formats, believing that use of Microsoft's formats produces "vendor lock-in", thereby limiting competition. Kevin's "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" discussed the role of monopoly in capitalist economics, and put things into perspective for me (and also made me think that I had been wasting my time advocating open document formats).
Basically, as I understood the argument, we should expect the capitalist powers-that-be (corporations and governments) to oppose any monopoly that affects an input to production, as "office productivity software" clearly does. Capitalists will also make a point of preventing any one of them from acquiring much more wealth than the others, hence Microsoft is a prime target for them.
Wikipedia has come under fire from an old politico because his (obscure) biography insinuated that he was involved in the assassinations of the Kennedys. He uses his experience as an opportunity to argue for laws that would effective centralize publication on the Internet in order to combat libel and slander. I think this is relevant to Kevin Carson's recent post about "P2P: New Economic Paradigm?"
I'm not familiar with any mutualist theory on slander and libel, but I have two thoughts on the issue:
Violence is not necessary to combat slander/libel. A thinking population and an effective correction system should be enough, but some sort of ostracism may also be in order.
This obsession with slander and libel seems to reflect the world view of the powerful and the centralizers. They want to develop a global reputation, and have the ability to forcefully protect that reputation even among people who they have never met and are far outside of their social circle.
Anyway, there are some good comments on Slashdot, especially this one from "penguin-collective"
Do you make a habit out of believing accusations against people without evidence? How naive can you be?
The problem isn't with the Wikipedia. The Wikipedia is completely honest about what it is.
The problem is that people like Seigenthaler...need to grow up...and stop nurturing the illusion that publication is some kind of quality control. Start using your head and start asking for evidence, for whatever claims you hear.
As for Mr. Seigenthaler and his little problem: the Wikipedia provides the means for him to correct those issues he feels inaccurate. If the original author is still around, they can hash it out on the discussion page. Maybe one side or the other will provide some evidence to support the accusation or the defense. That's all there's to it. But, as he told us, he isn't interested in correcting the information, he is interested in dragging the original author in front of a court, and I'm sorry, that kind of powerplay just doesn't work anymore in the 21st century.
A pointer to Nick Szabo's work, which focuses on the traits of successful institutions. The above link includes a brief description of the topics Szabo has worked on, along with links to his large collection of works.
Perhaps this would be helpful to anyone interested in developing a theory of mutualist organizational structure.