Mark Bittman on Respecting All Animals "When the ASPCA sends an agent to the home of a Brooklyn family to arrest one of its members for allegedly killing a hamster, something is wrong," declares Mark Bittman at the New York Times' Opinionator Blog this morning. What's wrong, he explains, is that the girl who killed the family hamster spent a night on Riker's Island before the animal cruelty charges--a felony--were dropped, yet the torture and inhumane killing of billions of domesticated animals in the United States every year is considered legal because we eat them. "Might we more usefully police those who keep egg-laying hens in cages so small the birds can't open their wings, for example, than anger-management-challenged young people accused of hamstercide?" Bittman asks. "We should be treating animals better and raising fewer of them; this would naturally reduce our consumption," he concludes. "All in all, a better situation for us, the animals, the world."
Amy Wilentz on the Return of Aristide In today's New York Times, Amy Wilentz lays out the saga of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's twice-exiled former president who is set to return to his country after seven years in South Africa. Aristide was Haiti's first democratically-elected president and, though both of his terms were interrupted by the Haitian Army with the help Haiti's elite and the U.S., his grand legacy of democracy lives on in the minds of the majority of Haitians, the country's poor and working class. "The Haitian people want justice and a decent life, and they think he's the man to give that to them," notes Wilentz, after talking to several Haitians who are excited for Aristide's return. "Yet they have already poured their love onto him and he has repaid them with nothing but dreams." Having already technically served two terms, Wilentz points out, it would take "some Machiavellian scheme" for Aristide to rule Haiti again. "In traditional Haitian belief, a person's soul goes back to Africa, or lan guinée, when he dies," she writes. "For Jean-Bertrand Aristide to reappear in Haiti from his African exile would be a real resurrection."
Philip Zelikow on a 'No-Drive' Zone in Libya Analogies to the past abound in the debate over whether to intervene or not in Libya, says historian Zelikow in The Financial Times. It's important, though, not to equate the Libyan situation with that of Vietnam or Bosnia or Iraq, but to look at the specifics of this case. With an eye on Qaddafi's involvement in the 1988 bombing of the "Pan Am 103 commercial airliner (killing 270 people) and the 1989 destruction of the UTA 772 commercial airliner (killing 170, including seven Americans)" which has "been confirmed again," the call for Qaddafi's removal is the right one, Zelikow argues. "In the long run Americans will be safer if others judge that their government has a long memory and, if an opportunity beckons, will settle accounts," he says. Given that many of Libya's strategic roads are located on the coast--easily vulnerable to air-power--he proposes a sort of modified "no-drive zone" rather than the "no-fly zone" being discussed at present. In the continuing debate over Libya, you may or may not support foreign military intervention. Zelikow provides one of the more compelling arguments for it.
Holman Jenkins on the Future of Nukes and Japan Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Jenkins argues that while the world has been captivated with the fear of a nuclear meltdown in Japan, most of the real damage has occurred from the natural disasters themselves. While whole villages were wiped out by the tsunami, only one worker at a nuclear plant has died, Jenkins says. Environmentally, the degradation has been significantly more severe as well from the tsunami. "A mostly contained meltdown of one or more reactors would not be the worst event of the month," Jenkins believes, pointing out that even Chernobyl had surprisingly few casualties compared to many natural disasters. He wonders what the fallout will be for nuclear power across the globe. "In the unlikely event the world was ever going to make a concerted dent in CO2 output, nuclear was the key. Let's just guess this possibility is now gone, for better or worse."
Hadley Freeman on America's New 'British' Mannerisms "While the national stereotypes about England and America are completely true," Freeman writes in The Guardian "they have somehow...swapped sides of the ocean." She playfully argues that a "strain of royalism" can be found in Americans these days, while notably absent in the British. Her evidence? Take the "craven desperation to give an Oscar ... to any film featuring the British royals, no matter how unpleasant they manage to appear." Or how about in restaurant imperiousness: "I have known English people to choke down a sandwich with more hair than ham rather than complain, whereas Americans will demand a lifetime of free food if they feel someone in the kitchen has been a bit stingy with the ketchup." Dating is indicative of this as well she says, though one is starting to suspect Freeman might not be hanging with the right crowd: "In New York City, the alleged hub of dating, the whole dating farrago is freighted with so many rules that Jane Austen would bang her head against the parsonage wall and snap her little bit of ivory in half." Her examples: the three-day wait before calling a girl after getting her number and the three-date rule on "disrobing."