FX – Middle East

Afghanistan: I’ve seen few stories create the outrage that this one did. Catch is, I first read about this sort of thing years ago; PBS even showed a documentary on the ‘dancing boys’ a while back. Why the outrage now, and not then?

US Soldiers Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys

Reactions to the story.

Ignoring Sexual Abuse in Afghanistan

US Outrage and Resignation Over Afghans’ Rape of Boys

Afghanistan and the E.U. migrant crisis.

Abandoning Afghan War Zone in a Perilous Quest for Europe

Israel: I used to drive a school bus, and a former co-worker who moved to Israel said, on a visit back, that bus drivers there wouldn’t wear a seatbelt in case they had to evacuate the vehicle (suicide bomb, real or imagined). A school in my district was once shut down for what turned out to be a misplaced duffel bag with the drama teacher’s kidnapped Elmo doll. My wife once worked with a blind Kurdish refugee in Sweden who had lost his eyesight to a letter bomb. How do you know what’s safe and what isn’t?

A Suspicious Object

Does Israel rely too much on the U.S., and does the agreement with Iran mean that that needs to change?

Rosner – Israel Needs New Friends

Libya: Still trying to sort things out.

In Libya, trying to make one government out of two

As Frustrations Build in Libya, So Do Calls for Help

ISIS: What their defectors are saying – and can we spread that story?

ISIS Defectors Reveal Disillusionment

Dozens of fighters are defecting from the Islamic State – Here’s why

Syria: Refugees, staying close to home.

As Others Flee to West, Most Syrian Refugees Remain in Region

Saudi Arabia: Dealing with the U.S. after the Iran agreement.

Ibish – A Saudi-American Reset


NX – Economics and Health Care (and how they’re connected)

Economics: Krugman on the Fed’s rate decision, and those lovely institutions called banks.

Krugman – The Rage of the Bankers

This article says a lot about our economy, and is the starting point for the health care articles that follow.

A stunning stat about pay seems impossible but actually is true – flatline wages

Health Care: The article above bridges directly into the next one.

Health Insurance Deductibles Outpacing Wage Increases, Study Finds

The headline above might be obvious. How could deductibles not rise faster than wages when wages aren’t increasing? And what do deductibles often get spent on? Drugs! (Our next stop.)

Drug prices – ‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli and the very American debate over maximizing profit

Why we can’t stop US drug companies from charging astronomical prices

Capitalism at it’s finest – raising a drug’s price from $13.50 to $750 just because you can, and because you want to make a profit. (Here we get back to my point that capitalism isn’t moral, or immoral – it’s amoral [as in the pursuit of profits doesn’t have any morals; they’re simply not a consideration].)

For those of us who are a bit more morally attuned to the fact that drugs are often necessary for the health of human beings, there was the expected negative reaction. That produced, among other things, the following response.

Clinton proposing $250 monthly cap on prescription drug costs for patients

The key here is to note that this response has a major difference from the current system (set up largely by the drug industry to guarantee the ability to make profits).

The one thing you need to know about Clinton’s war on high drug prices

It should be noted that the extensive negative publicity has led to the rollback of some of the more outrageous price hikes. That may not be enough to prevent hearings and/or legislation on the matter. Stuff like this tends to prove that bipartisanship isn’t dead – what politician of either party wants to come out in support of companies that raise prices like this?

Back to economics, briefly. If there’s any question about the amorality of capitalism, this story might be the slam-dunk on the issue of making money any way you can.

‘Happy birthday’ to all of us – Judge gives world a gift, says song belongs to everyone

(As a former librarian, I was aware of the difficulty (impossibility) of getting a copy of the Civil Rights documentary ‘Eyes on the Prize.’ According to NPR today, the rights restriction that made it unavailable was because of the scene where people sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Martin Luther King, Jr.)

NX – Campaign Financing and Elections

Campaign Financing: Parties (not PACs) go after the big fish, and a who’s who of the biggest.

Political parties go after million-dollar donors in wake of looser rules

The 10 most influential billionaires in politics

Elections: An interesting dilemma – if you’ve successfully positioned yourself as the anti-government party, what chance do your candidates currently in government stand of making it through your primary against candidates selling themselves as outsiders? And if you rhetorically cultivate the politics of division should you be surprised if that comes back to hurt your candidate(s)?

Balz – Scott Walker’s exit puts a focus on a fickle GOP electorate

Shrill rhetoric in the GOP primary race could come back to haunt the party

NX – Immigration

Anchor babies: Not a phrase I’m fond of  – we all have ‘anchor baby’ ancestors – and an issue more complex than politicians indicate.

For illegal immigrants with babies, the anchor pulls in many directions

When the kids stay, but the parents don’t.

The Children of Deported US Immigrants Suffer Devastating Psychological and Economic Impacts – CityLab

A major assimilation study just came out – A look at it from both the Right (Rubin) and the Left (Waldman). Compare and contrast – where do they agree, where do they veer apart?

Rubin – Another anti-immigration myth busted

Waldman – Everything that (certain) Republican candidates want you to believe about immigrants is wrong

FX/NX – Extemp Files update

The Extemp Files were updated today, through this morning’s articles.

Other posts may be a bit erratic for a short while – had a family emergency & family obligations the past few days, and have some paid work the next few.

Extemp Files instructions repost: The link takes you to a Dropbox folder; if a pop-over window saying something about setting up an account or logging in comes up, just close it.

The files are serious overkill – something in excess of 6000 articles since July. There should be a way to copy or download individual articles when you find the ones you want in your files – try right-clicking the specific PDF file/article and selecting the ‘save link as’ option. While this blog has most of the best articles posted, there may be others that you feel are worth having.

The four-digit numbers at the beginning of most of the file names (and the names of the sub-folders) are simply mm/yy codes so that you can tell how recent the article is at a glance.

Please don’t download the whole thing; it trips up my Dropbox limits and bad things happen that shut down access for others. If you need a full copy, let me know (see the About link for an email address) and I’ll make arrangements to get you a copy.

NX – Economics, Election, and Health Care

A government shutdown is looming over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood. Is this a man-made mountain over a financial molehill?

The small stakes of the latest government shutdown fight, visualized – Planned Parenthood funding

More on the Ex-Im fight – who are the job-killers?

Nocera – Republican Job Killers and the Export-Import Bank

Economics and the election: Something on which I actually agree with Trump.

Carried-Interest Tax Break Divides Again, After Trump Revives the Issue

GOP debate:

Rampell – The economy was a no-show at GOP debate

Why this was a bad thing – even to other Republicans.

Are Democrats and Republicans talking about the same country

The debate’s economic (in)accuracy.

Zakaria – Dear Donald Trump – China, Japan and Mexico are not “killing us”

The debate as a test on the Constitution. (This one really disturbs me.)

Marcus – The GOP candidates need a remedial course in constitutional law

For those occasions when the Republican candidates are attacking someone besides other Republican candidates.

Five myths about classified information