The Unpopular Opinion
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news and opinions at the extremes of the mainstream
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Philadelphia Condom Campaign Targets Kids as Young as 11

Philadelphia Condom Campaign Targets Kids as Young as 11 | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
How old is too young?

"A new campaign by Philadelphia officials to reduce sexually transmitted diseases allows children as young as 11 to receive free condoms via mail order, outraging some parents who believe that's too early to start getting physical."
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Quote of the Day: Rand Paul on the U.S. Budget Plan

Quote of the Day: Rand Paul on the U.S. Budget Plan | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
“Only in Washington can a budget that spends more than it did the year before, with a larger deficit, be portrayed as ‘cutting.’”

-- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in a letter to colleagues about why he is voting against a fiscal compromise package
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Peter Thiel: We’re in a Bubble and It’s Not the Internet. It’s Higher Education.

Peter Thiel: We’re in a Bubble and It’s Not the Internet. It’s Higher Education. | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
Fascinating article.

Excerpt:

"Instead, for Thiel, the bubble that has taken the place of housing is the higher education bubble. “A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”

Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe. The excesses of both were always excused by a core national belief that no matter what happens in the world, these were the best investments you could make. Housing prices would always go up, and you will always make more money if you are college educated.

Like any good bubble, this belief– while rooted in truth– gets pushed to unhealthy levels. Thiel talks about consumption masquerading as investment during the housing bubble, as people would take out speculative interest-only loans to get a bigger house with a pool and tell themselves they were being frugal and saving for retirement. Similarly, the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. “It’s what you’ve been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt,” Thiel says.

Thiel isn’t totally alone in the first part of his education bubble assertion. It used to be a given that a college education was always worth the investment– even if you had to take out student loans to get one. But over the last year, as unemployment hovers around double digits, the cost of universities soars and kids graduate and move back home with their parents, the once-heretical question of whether education is worth the exorbitant price has started to be re-examined even by the most hard-core members of American intelligensia."
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Jury convicts mom who withheld cancer meds via @MSNBC

Jury convicts mom who withheld cancer meds via @MSNBC | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
No matter whose side you are on in this one, the entire story is just plain tragic.

"LaBrie, testifying in her own defense, told the jury that she followed the instructions from her son's doctors for the first four phases of treatment but stopped giving her son the medications during the final phase because she "didn't want to make him any sicker."

LaBrie said she told her son's doctor two or three times that she was afraid that "he just had had it."

LaBrie's lawyer, Kevin James, told the jury LaBrie was depressed and overwhelmed by caring for her son, who was severely autistic, nonverbal and developmentally delayed. James said she made a "tragic mistake" in stopping her son's at-home medication, but said her actions were not criminal.

LaBrie and the boy's father, Eric Fraser, had a contentious relationship. LaBrie said she received very little help from him, even after their son was diagnosed with cancer.

After doctors discovered LaBrie had withheld the medications, Jeremy went to live with his father for the last year of his life. Eric Fraser was killed in a motorcycle accident seven months after his son died. "
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Democratic senator wants Internet sales taxes via @CNET

Democratic senator wants Internet sales taxes via @CNET | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
What do you think? To tax or not to tax Internet purchases?

"A Democratic senator is preparing to introduce legislation that aims to end the golden era of tax-free Internet shopping.

The proposal--expected to be made public soon after Tax Day--would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the ability of Americans to shop at Web sites like Amazon.com and Overstock.com without paying state sales taxes."
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Quote of the Day: French property developer on France's ban on face veils via @Time

Quote of the Day: French property developer on France's ban on face veils via @Time | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"I am calling on all free women who so wish to wear the veil in the street and engage in civil disobedience."

- RACHID NEKKAZ, a French property developer, after France's ban on face veils came into force on Monday

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Planned Parenthood and its abortion services at issue in budget fight

Planned Parenthood and its abortion services at issue in budget fight | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON — Republicans portray Planned Parenthood as primarily focused on performing abortions and — intentionally or not — using American taxpayer dollars to do it.
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Qaddafi Controls Popular Internet Domain Name via @FoxNews

Qaddafi Controls Popular Internet Domain Name via @FoxNews | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
Excerpt:

"Where have the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S. Air Force directed Twitter followers to learn more about military action in Libya? To an Internet domain controlled by the regime of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi.

They aren't the only ones to send their Internet followers through Libya. So have House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), Stanford University, Charlie Sheen, the White House, Kim Kardashian, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Paul McCartney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thousands of others."
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My Interp of the Government Shutdown Situation (had it happened) >> My Op-Ed

My Interp of the  Government Shutdown Situation (had it happened)  >> My Op-Ed | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
This is my first heavily editorialized post on the Unpopular Opinion. I hope nobody hates me after hearing my thoughts on the "much ado about nothing" circus of that now-resolved "looming government shutdown." Wow, the media has gotten so dramatic.

Let me tell you my researched interpretation of the government shutdown debacle:

- Who gives a rat's ass? The shutdown would have had minimal effect on most of the population. The above linked Mashable article suggests that the shutdown would've negatively impacted the Tech sector. But based on the examples cited, I don't think the tech sector would have come to s screeching halt. Google and Microsoft, both very diversified profitable behemoths in tech, would not be greatly impacted with their government contracts. Yes, there is the concern of mid-sized IT companies but to put it in terms of number of people affected, this scenario represents a small percentage (not to be mistaken with the billions of dollars involved – the small number of mid-sized IT companies with military contracts are quite profitable, I presume.). The article’s last tech example -- that "some furloughed employees would either turn in their BlackBerrys or be banned from using them" -- really fails to make my threshold of a noticeable number of people impacted.

- Undeserving victims. The people negatively impacted most would have been the men and women who serve in our military. That's right: the military people in training, in combat, stationed, on patrol, administering medical care, engineering cutting-edge technology. All 800,00 of those people, who have chosen to protect our country and follow orders to go across the world and "uphold peace," would have had to miss a paycheck (or more) if the government had shut down.

- Has anyone noticed that the economy looks nauseous? Despite what some professional economists are saying about the possible wane of consumer confidence during a government shutdown, history demonstrates that even a 10.8-point drop has minimal economic consequences. That happened during the last major government shutdown in January 1996, when lawmakers took a 21-day breather. The economic impact was minimal. So this is one case in which you don’t have to blame the government for disturbing the economy on a wide scale. Separately, the country surrounding that kingdom on Capitol Hill is in fact currently suffering from a case of economic blues. I’ll illustrate with the essential words: the deficit, unemployment, real estate, Libya, Japan. Since I’m not an economic expert, I’ll assume that’s not an exhaustive list of key words, but you get the point. Too bad Congress is far more interested in Reality-TV in the W DC than in arithmetic and international diplomacy.

- The inconvenient truth of pampered politicians. If you were worried about how the shutdown would have affected lawmakers, rest your pretty head. The shutdown period is a great opportunity for well-compensated congress people to go on vacation and still get paid! To drive home that point, you need not worry about an IRS shutdown during this period. After all, it's tax season -- it's like Christmas over there on Capitol Hill!

- It's Reality-TV in the W DC. I would've guessed (but I'm cynical) that those guys in the Capitol Building have been enjoying being the center of such empty dramatics. For once, there is proof I am right! According to TechCrunch, the "House Of Representatives is among the top 10 ISPs visiting Isthegovernmentshutdown.com," a site "created by WSJ editor Zach Seward to keep us posted on the furlough’s status..." TechCrunch also discovered that "other government agencies like the Senate, the Navy, Homeland Security, the Justice Department and Health and Human Services were also in the top 50 in terms of referral traffic." Well, the sign of a solid ego is the ability to keep oneself entertained. Here's a link to the TechCrunch article: http://tcrn.ch/hSQoiA

Oh, and do you have any idea what all this nonsense over? U.S. leaders were stale-mated on a government funding bill. Republicans were proposing $60B in budget cuts (they originally promised $100B); Democrats were proposing $33B. The deadline to arrive at an agreement was Friday, April 8th at midnight. Nothing beats an 11th hour treaty. Phew! Crisis alerted! Now let’s get back to the serious stuff.
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Police pepper spray tantrum-throwing 8-year-old - CBS News >> Really? Was this necessary?

Police pepper spray tantrum-throwing 8-year-old - CBS News >> Really? Was this necessary? | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
While I obviously don't know the full story, I can't imagine how an 8 year-old -- even if he is wielding a piece of wood -- would require pepper spray to calm down.
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Orange County bans sex offenders from some parks, beaches

Orange County bans sex offenders from some parks, beaches | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
I wholeheartedly applaud lawmakers for enforcing this law!

"Orange County supervisors have approved a law significantly restricting the movements of registered sex offenders, banning them from entering some beaches, parks and harbor areas."
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Judge says child led sex pervert David Barnes on

Judge says child led sex pervert David Barnes on | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"A PAEDOPHILE walked free from court after a judge accepted his 13-year-old victim had led him on."
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Time Magazine Editor: "Burning the Koran Is Worse Than Burning the Bible"

Time Magazine Editor: "Burning the Koran Is Worse Than Burning the Bible" | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
Here's an excerpt from Time's Bobby Ghosh interview with NBC's Chuck Todd:

BOBBY GHOSH, TIME MAGAZINE: The thing to keep in mind that's very important here is that the Koran to Muslims, it is not -- it is not the same as the Bible to Christians.

The Bible is a book written by men. It is acknowledged by Christians that it is written by men. It's the story of Jesus.

CHUCK TODD, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORESPONDENT: Yes.

GHOSH: But the Koran, if you are a believer, if you're a Muslim, the Koran is directly the word of God, not written by man. It is transcribed, is directly the word of God.

That makes it sacred in a way that it's hard to understand if you're not Muslim. So the act of burning a Koran is much more -- potentially much, much more inflammatory than --

TODD: Directly attacking -- directly attacking God.

GHOSH: -- than if you were to burn a -- burn a Bible.

TODD: Directly attacking God.

Watch a video of the interview here: http://bit.ly/frMert

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ALMOST half of Mississippi's Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal via The Economist

ALMOST half of Mississippi's Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal via The Economist | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"ALMOST half of Mississippi's Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal, according to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling. (Some have accused PPP of having a liberal bias, but the pollster has proven rather accurate, and the question in this poll was straighforward.) Call me naive, but I find this level of support for anti-miscegenation laws in 2011 shocking. And these are Republicans, who are no doubt nominally in favour of less government, yet see no problem with government stopping a man and a woman who love each other from getting married because their skin tones clash. To call this attitude pernicious, small-minded and contradictory is merely to state the obvious, but it does have a long pedigree."
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Lawrence O'Donnell Apologizes For Crying About Planned Parenthood: 'I Failed' (VIDEO)

Lawrence O'Donnell Apologizes For Crying About Planned Parenthood: 'I Failed' (VIDEO) | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"Lawrence O'Donnell apologized for crying on air during an emotional defense of Planned Parenthood.

On his Monday show, O'Donnell addressed the hubbub he had caused when he read an email from a friend who depended on the organization--whose federal funding has come under heavy attack from Republicans in recent weeks--and couldn't hold back the tears as he read the end of the note out loud. Most prominently, Glenn Beck tore into O'Donnell, mocking him and suggesting that only "hookers" depend on Planned Parenthood."
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Sex work is real work, even it is exploitation - The Scavenger

Sex work is real work, even it is exploitation - The Scavenger | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
VERY interesting article written by "queer trans activist and occasional porn star Sadie Ryanne."

Excerpt:

"Can porn perpetuate sexist/racist/cissexist/transphobic ideologies? Absolutely.

Is most porn ethically bankrupt? Of course.

Can it be fun and empowering? Sometimes.

Some sex-positive activists — particularly relatively better-off ones who do sex work purely by choice — focus on this last one. They talk about how porn can be reclaimed, and even make anti-oppressive porn that is by and for female, queer, and trans people. (Can you tell I had a subscription to Crash Pad?)

I think it’s amazing that we have stuff like Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project working to portray trans women’s sexuality in a realistic way, and not based only on some cis guy’s fantasies. We desperately need more of that. You should probably buy that movie, and then go make your own. (If you want to.)

But the reality is that a lot of mainstream porn is exploitative and degrading. A lot of people do it purely for money. If we only defend porn that is understood as “queer” or “empowering”, we still leave ourselves open to attack from the right and from anti-porn feminists.

If pro-porn activists only focus on queer/liberating porn, the right’s accusations about mainstream porn (and the people who work in it) will go unchallenged.

If we don’t speak explicitly about mainstream porn (the oppressive, cis supremacist kind), they will keep dominating the discourse on this type of porn, and by extension, the people who depend on it for a livelihood. People who have worked in mainstream porn should be allowed to tell the story from our points of view.

So, yes, mainstream porn is exploitative and degrading. But it’s more complicated than that."
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Trump: The Least Charitable Billionaire | The Smoking Gun

Trump: The Least Charitable Billionaire | The Smoking Gun | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
Apparently, Donald Trump has proclaimed himself an "ardent philanthropist." The Smoking Gun begs to differ.

"How miserly is The Donald?

From 1990 through 2009, Trump has personally donated a total of just $3.7 million to his foundation, which was incorporated in 1987. In fact, the billionaire is not even the largest contributor to his own charitable organization.

Tax returns show that World Wrestling Entertainment has given Trump’s foundation a total of $5 million in return for the developer’s assistance in working a couple of televised angles along with WWE boss Vince McMahon. The WWE gave Trump’s foundation $4 million in 2007 for his help in promoting that year’s WrestleMania festivities, and another $1 million in 2009, when Trump (pictured below with McMahon) pretended to purchase part of the WWE empire.

The real estate titan’s foundation has also banked $205,000 from media outlets and supermarket tabloids in return for exclusive photos (People magazine, for example, paid the foundation $150,000 in 2006 for the first shots of Trump’s newborn son Barron).

During the past two decades, the Trump foundation has made charitable contributions totaling a paltry $6.7 million.

Both the amount of money Trump has donated to his own foundation as well as the aggregate contributions made by the not-for-profit group are pitiful when compared to the philanthropy of other high-profile tycoons like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, David Geffen, or S.I. Newhouse."
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Americans Want to Toss Adorable Gay Penguin Tale on Banned-Book Pyre | Fast Company

Americans Want to Toss Adorable Gay Penguin Tale on Banned-Book Pyre | Fast Company | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"As a taxpaying American citizen, you are entitled to write your local public or school library and formally request that they remove a book from their shelves. They don't have to listen to you, but they often report these requests to the American Library Association, which publishes an annual list of the books that got the most people up in arms. And apparently, people don't want their children reading about gay penguins.

And Tango Makes Three, the heartwarming true tale of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that adopt an abandoned egg and then raise the baby penguin, is the book that is most often challenged by parents for its positive depictions of gay (avian) lifestyles. And school districts around the country have removed it from their shelves in response to many of those challenges."
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Billboards ask you to decide: 'Who should live, who should die?'

Billboards ask you to decide: 'Who should live, who should die?' | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"Controversial billboards promoting animal research just went up in Seattle, asking a provocative question: Who would you rather see live, a little girl or a lab rat?

The billboards are presenting the side of the argument you don't usually hear about.

They are designed to get people to ask themselves if animals should die in the lab so scientists can pursue possible lifesaving treatments for people."
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College, who needs it? Professor X writes book about the irelevance -- for some people -- of a college degree

College, who needs it? Professor X writes book about the irelevance -- for some people -- of a college degree | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
The New York Times review on this book is accessible via the linked headline, but a paid subscription is required.

Here are excerpts from the review on In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, written under the pseudonym Professor X -- "a poorly paid adjunct professor, a man who teaches nighttime literature classes in both a small private college and in a community college."

"The tone of his essay, and of this impertinent book, however, is as plaintive as it is lemony. The author is delivering unhappy news, and he knows it. It’s as if he’s proposing to paste an asterisk on the American dream. “Telling someone that college is not right for him seems harsh and classist, vaguely Dickensian,” Professor X writes, “as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines.”

Yet why is it so important to Barack Obama (a champion of community colleges) and those doing America’s hiring, he asks, that “our bank tellers be college educated, and our medical billing techs, our county tax clerks”? College — even community college — drives many young people into debt. Many others lack rudimentary study skills or any scholarly inclination. They want to get on with their lives, not be forced to analyze the meter in “King Lear” in night school in order to become a cop or a nurse’s aide.

In marshaling his persuasive arguments, Professor X draws on the work of scholars and sociologists and demographers, and clearly he’s picking up on sentiments floating in the air. Matthew B. Crawford’s best-selling book “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” published in 2009, was an ode to vocational training and dignified blue-collar work."
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Author of pedophilia book pleads no contest, gets probation via @CNN

Author of pedophilia book pleads no contest, gets probation via @CNN | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
According to CNN:

"Phillip Greaves was arrested in his home state of Colorado in December and extradited to Polk County, Florida. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at the time his detectives were able to establish jurisdiction in the case by conducting an undercover operation, buying a copy of the book "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct," through the mail.

Greaves even autographed it. Police paid $50 for the book, which they received on December 8.

Greaves and his book gained national attention last year after Amazon.com defended selling the book on its website despite angry comments and threats of boycotts from thousands of people. The book was removed from the website in early November.

Officials said the book talks about safe sex and avoiding injury to children, grooming and preparing children for sex and teaching children how to lie to their parents. Judd said last year Greaves' book outlines a "code of ethics" that shows pedophiles how to look for the most vulnerable children."
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Quote of the Day: Former IBM President Thomas John Watson, Sr. on Controversy

Quote of the Day: Former IBM President Thomas John Watson, Sr. on Controversy | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of "crackpot" than the stigma of conformity."

- Thomas John Watson, Sr., IBM President from 1914 to 1956.
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"Religion is meaningless without mercy" via @NYTimes OpEd

"Religion is meaningless without mercy" via @NYTimes OpEd | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
Excerpt:

"So Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who organized a Koran burning on March 20, wanted “to stir the pot."

...He’s a zealot. How else to describe a Christian who interprets his faith not as grounded in love and compassion but as a mission to incite hatred toward Islam?

...Jones is not alone in this Islamophobic campaign in the United States, which is what is most disturbing.

...But such incendiary views about a world religion now find wide expression in the United States where “stealth jihad” has become a recurrent Republican theme.

...Muslims have work to do. They should have the courage to denounce unequivocally the Mazar murder. Jihadists have too often deformed a great religion with insufficient rebuke. From Egypt to Pakistan, it must be understood that Islam cannot at once be a political force and above criticism. Once you enter the democratic political arena on a religious platform, your beliefs are no longer a private matter but up for legitimate attack. Pakistan’s violence-inducing blasphemy laws are an affront to this principle.

...I see why lots of people turn to religion — fear of death, ordering principle in a mysterious universe, refuge from pain, even revelation. But surely it’s meaningless without mercy and forgiveness, and surely its very antithesis must be hatred and murder. At least that’s how it appears to a nonbeliever."
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Let's You and Him Fight - WSJ.com

Let's You and Him Fight - WSJ.com | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
"The Koran-burning has sparked no small quantity of outrage in America, too--but everybody seems to agree that Jones had a perfect right to do what he did. The closest we've seen to a dissent on this point is Sen. Lindsey Graham's comment on CBS's "Face the Nation" yesterday: "I wish we could find some way to--to hold people accountable," the South Carolina Republican said. "Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war. During World War II you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy."

By framing his wish "to hold people accountable" in terms of wartime restrictions on free speech, Graham concedes that the symbolic burning of the Koran is an exercise of free speech. A law against Koran-burning would also offend the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and, if applied against Jones, probably the Free Exercise Clause as well, since the "trial" of the Koran was a religious ritual.

In the unlikely event that such a law were enacted and passed judicial muster, the terrorists would have won--and not just in the usual facile sense that such a law would go against "our values." This would actually be the kind of law that al Qaeda would impose on us if it could.

Time's Joe Klein asserts: "Jones has a right to burn the Koran...But there should be no confusion about this: Jones's act was murderous as any suicide bomber's." This makes no sense. No one has a right to commit a murderous act, including an act consisting entirely of speech (incitement, threat or conspiracy). Jones's act was provocative. It was not murderous."
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Why Overthrowing Gaddafi Is Overrated via Time

Why Overthrowing Gaddafi Is Overrated via Time | The Unpopular Opinion | Scoop.it
Excerpt:

"The idea of bringing down a terror-sponsoring tyrant may be appealing, but the success rate of regime changes imposed by foreign armies is dismal. According to Alexander B. Downes, a political scientist at Duke University, there have been 95 instances of "foreign-imposed regime change" (FIRC) worldwide since 1816. Downes has found that in countries where an external force replaced the existing regime with a new one, the chances of a civil war erupting within five years tripled. Rulers who are seen to be installed by outsiders are less able to command loyalty and more likely to encounter opposition, rebellion and armed insurgency. State institutions have a greater tendency to collapse, especially if FIRC happens as a result of war. (As would be true in Libya.) And poor, ethnically heterogeneous nations — the kinds of places "where the United States and most other advanced democracies are most likely to undertake such [interventions]" — are the most susceptible to post-regime-change instability. (Watch President Obama's Libya speech.)

The historical data, Downes concludes, suggest that "overthrowing other governments is a policy instrument with limited utility because of its potential to ignite civil wars." But that doesn't mean the world is powerless to stop state-sanctioned aggression."
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