Archive: Your Take

Quirks and Comments

Well, I'm kind of sad to see the permalinks to individual comments are gone in this new system. Alas. I'll try to make quick posts throughout the day referencing some of the individual comments and themes that ran through the thread. Thanks for a really lively and interesting discussion so far. One comment that made my jaw drop came from Debater Emilio: What if those "confidential sources" are in fact agents of terrorist organizations that use the free American press to (mis|dis)inform the average American? That is highly unlikely, mi casi-tocayo. Any organization that takes its journalism seriously also thoroughly checks out its sources. Particularly for the most consequential stories, they're not going to trust the word of just anyone; it's got to be someone who's really, verifiably in a position to know that key information. If U.S. intelligence agencies have agents of a terrorist organization working at such high...

By Emily Messner | May 19, 2006; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Nuclear Waste Disasters and a Pollution Solution?

A couple debatable points sent in by e-mail: We might learn something from the failures of the levees in New Orleans and the explosions of space shuttles, suggests Debater Dick Griest. They could offer valuable lessons about relying on sophisticated equipment designed to last many years. In other words, even our best engineering (which arguably the levees were not) is not necessarily foolproof. He warns that Yucca Mountain could surpass the levees as the worst civil engineering disaster in U.S. history. "Can we afford to write off the entire southeastern [sic] U.S. like we have written off New Orleans?" Mr. Griest then goes on to wax eloquent about the devastating loss of the pornography industry in Southern California -- but I'm going to assume that was an attempt at humor rather than a serious concern. (Griest also gets snitty with me for not posting a Yucca-related link he apparently e-mailed...

By Emily Messner | April 20, 2006; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (38)

Nuclear Power: Think Smaller?

Among many thoughtful comments on the last post, Debater Sully asks us to consider scaled-down plants that power just one small city, saying they would be "safer and easier to control." It's an intriguing suggestion. So, let's consider. Regardless of whether Sully's assumption about safety is accurate, the primary issue is cost. Seems like it would be more difficult to build several small nuclear reactors than one large one; in a large plant, the reactors would share infrastructure, such as the water source, while multiple smaller plants would require infrastructure to be built many times over. Then again, perhaps it is just as expensive to construct and maintain reactors regardless of their size or concentration. Anyone have any insights into this? Another consideration would be that more sites would mean more "not in my backyard" objections. Picture the overflowing city council meetings, the neighborhood petitions, the lawsuits. In the face...

By Emily Messner | April 18, 2006; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (18)

Moussaoui to FBI: I Plead the Fifth

Debater JUDGITO wonders how the government could have reasonably expected Moussaoui to tell the FBI everything he knew about Al Qaeda's plans. "Doesn't the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination apply in this case and, if not, why not?" An intriguing question. The defense has made this point, arguing that Moussaoui was under no legal obligation to confess anything. Mike at LeftFielder.org agrees. He can't see how increasing "Moussaoui's legal liability because he refused to confess his crimes and fully cooperate with the FBI" would not be a violation of the Fifth Amendment. (The Old New Englander notes that the government attorney caught improperly coaching witnesses in the Moussaoui case has invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.) The relevant clause of the Fifth Amendment reads: "no person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself...." Of course, Moussaoui wasn't a witness until about...

By Emily Messner | April 12, 2006; 05:06 AM ET | Comments (57)

Tree Huggers, Tax Cheaters and Landmine Lovers

Lots of thoughtful discussion on the last post -- many well-reasoned arguments for and against constructing a border wall. I love it! For the record, I also love tree huggers, and Debater murracito makes an excellent tree-hugging point that had not occurred to me: the environmental consequences of building such an enormous wall could be devastating. Among other possible problems, just think of the construction runoff that would end up in the Rio Grande. Even if you don't give a patoot about the environment, remember that the river is also used for recreation. Would a wall severely limit those activities, or cut them off entirely? A quick question for Debater Will, who asserts that "57% [of Mexicans] felt they had the right to enter the United States without United States permission." Could you share your source on that, por favor? We get this analogy from Debater DC Dude, explaining why...

By Emily Messner | March 22, 2006; 04:51 PM ET | Comments (101)

Three Major Views on Hamas Win

Lots of interesting viewpoints out there on the Hamas win, but most still seem to break down into one of three categories: 1. Hamas is a terrorist organization that will always be hell bent on the destruction of Israel. Hamas's rise to power is just more bad news for the already fragile two-state solution. 2. Winning a place in government will force Hamas to take a more moderate position in order to ensure the continuing flow of international aid, and to negotiate on behalf of its constituents, most of whom want to live in peace in a country of their own. 3. We have no idea how this will turn out, and we have no way of knowing how a Hamas-led Palestinian government will affect Israel's March elections -- or anything else, for that matter. As you could probably tell from my last post, I tend to take the third...

By Emily Messner | January 27, 2006; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (241)

Attn: Debaters! Your Turn to Lead the Discussion

My big bi-annual vacation is coming up in January, and I'd like to try something a little different. Debaters, I throw it over to you. It's your turn to lead the discussion. Write a blog entry on any issue about which you'd like to start a conversation, send it to me, and I'll post the most intriguing entries while I'm away. I'll still drop in to comment and post as often as I can -- but I'm not banking on wireless Internet in East Timor. (I base that prediction, possibly erroneously, on the fact that there are only two ATMs in Dili.) Your post should follow the usual blogging format, providing lots of useful links to both opinion pieces and factual documentation. I hope to see posts on a wide range of controversial subjects. Humor is most welcome (shout out to Chris Ford for morphing my "rogue banana peel" comment...

By Emily Messner | December 23, 2005; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (15)

Debaters Weigh In on Prisoner Abuse

Lots of engaging debate in the comments. Here's a quick review of some -- but by no means all -- of the most intriguing arguments. Debater Turnabout asks the question that is at the crux of this debate: "The American ethos is all about fair play, that's why we signed the Geneva Convention. Do we fight dirty (torture) when the other guy (terrorist) doesn't play fair?" Chris Ford answers: "the Geneva Convention is a reciprocal treaty between signatory nations. Al Qaeda never signed onto it, flouts all its rules, executes its captives - yet Turnabout 'feels' that every such unlawful combatant should be treated as an honorable soldier???" But it's about our character, not theirs, Turnabout responds, asking: "Are we John Wayne or Dirty Harry?" "History will not be kind to those that could have done something to stop this egregious distortion of our values but preferred instead to look...

By Emily Messner | November 14, 2005; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (95)

Global Warming: Policy Changes Maybe Even Bush Would Accept

One of the issues raised by a couple Debaters in the comments was that these big hurricanes -- regardless of whether they're bigger due to global warming, a natural cycle, or some combination of both -- will inevitably cause more death and destruction now that more development has taken place in vulnerable areas. Thanks to the Archive.org Wayback Machine, we can read the EPA's 1998 report The Regional Impacts of Climate Change, which warns of policies (including subsidies and regulations) that contribute to our environmental conditions and can hinder our ability to adapt to a changing climate. Part of what the report discusses is "inappropriate land-use zoning and/or subsidized disaster insurance, which encourage infrastructure development in areas prone to flooding or other natural disasters -- areas that could become even more vulnerable as a result of climate change." Sound familiar? To those Debaters who have been arguing that actively trying...

By Emily Messner | September 30, 2005; 12:31 PM ET | Comments (7)

Comparing Misery

When Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway proclaimed, " http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/30/AR2005083000814.html">This is our tsunami," I was a bit taken aback. There's no doubt that Hurricane Katrina is one of the worst natural disasters in American history. It was a catastrophe for the residents of the Gulf states, most especially the city of New Orleans, which Mayor Ray Nagin estimates will "not be functional" for the next three months or so. Hundreds of thousands of people were able to get out of harm's way thanks to early warnings -- and their cars. Still, death tolls could run into the thousands, tens of thousands have had their homes ruined and the situation of those still trapped in the city is clearly dire. But with Katrina firmly in the category of catastrophe, we might just have to invent a new word to describe the Indian Ocean tsunami last December. (Can anyone think of a stronger word...

By Emily Messner | September 2, 2005; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (51)

 

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