DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Moral Drones and the New York Times

By Conn Hallinan
Friday July 20, 2012 - 10:04:00 AM

“…it may be a surprise to find some moral philosophers, political scientists, and weapons specialists believe unmanned aircraft offer marked moral advantages over almost any other tool of warfare.”—Scott Shane, national security reporter for the New York Times, “The Moral Defense For Drones,” 7/15/12

First, one should never be surprised to find that the NY Times can ferret out experts to say virtually anything. Didn’t they dig up those who told us all that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons? Second, whenever the newspaper uses the words “some,” that’s generally a tipoff the dice are loaded, in this case with a former Air Force officer (who teaches philosophy at the Naval Postgraduate School), a former CIA deputy chief of counterintelligence, and political scientist Avery Plaw, author of “Targeting Terrorists: A License To Kill?” -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Think Different: What Apple Can Teach America

By Bob Burnett
Friday July 20, 2012 - 09:39:00 AM

In the latest issue of VANITY FAIR, journalist Kurt Eichenwald chronicles the twelve-year decline of Microsoft. Over the same period, Apple prospered, but America floundered. Analyzing Microsoft’s failure and Apple’s success helps us understand what the US needs to do to get back on track.

In December of 2000, Microsoft shares (MSFT) were worth $119.94; it was the most valuable corporation in the world with a market capitalization of $510 billion. Then the slide began; now Microsoft’s stock is worth $30.63 per share and its market capitalization is $257B. During the same period Apple’s stock (AAPL) increased in value from $8.19 to $614.32 and its market cap rose from $4.8B to $574B. Now Apple is the world’s most valuable company.

Why did Microsoft decline while Apple prospered? Eichenwald focuses on management and strategy. But purpose is as important. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Mending Fences in Laos

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 20, 2012 - 09:56:00 AM

Earlier this month U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the first high level U.S. official to visit Laos since the Vietnam War. Although not touted as such, the visit was an effort to mend fences with Laos, the most heavily bombed nation per capita in history.

While in Laos, Clinton made a visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Center to observe medical and rehabilitation services for amputees, many of whom are victims of explosions from bombs left over from the Vietnam War era. The exhibit included dangling cluster bombs and crude wooden artificial legs made by villagers whose limbs had been lost by unexploded ordinance, a legacy of the U.S. secret war.

From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. conducted a secret war in Laos to support the Royal Lao Government against the Pathet Lao. The U.S. flew over Laos from bases in Thailand to bomb the Ho Chi Minh trail in North Vietnam. The B-52s released many of their bombs over eastern Laos. The CIA effort in Laos remains the largest and most expensive paramilitary operation ever conducted by the U.S. -more-


By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday July 19, 2012 - 08:39:00 PM

For powerless seniors, it has become very difficult, often impossible, to identify a physician who accepts (1) new patients and (2) Medicare Assignment. Medicare Assignment refers to the amount assigned by Medicare and paid the provider for a given procedure. Few physicians accept what Medicare pays as payment in full, including those who in the past did so. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Issue of Compliance: Weighing Side Effects Against Symptoms

By Jack Bragen
Thursday July 19, 2012 - 08:34:00 PM

If you think about it, the term "noncompliance," applied to persons with mental illness, implies that the medication is some kind of punishment. Or it at least implies that taking it is something the patient is being made to do, and wouldn't do if given a choice. -more-

MY COMMONPLACE BOOK (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Friday July 20, 2012 - 11:23:00 AM

The truth, he thought, has never been of any real value to any human being—it is a symbol for mathematicians and philosophers to pursue. In human relations, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.— from The Heart of the Matter (1948) by Graham Greene (1904—1991) -more-