Reason Alert: Al Gore and CSI Mississippi

  • Congratulations to Al Gore
  • CSI Mississippi
  • Don't Blame China for Myanmar
  • The Military Thinks On
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interview
  • New at Reason.org and Reason.com

Congratulations to Al Gore
Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize today for his work on climate change and Reason magazine's Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey writes, "...global warming is not the result of environmental sin; it is the result of human progress creating another commons problem. We do not need to 'lift global consciousness'; we need to find a cheap, low-carbon source of energy. I have no doubt that man-made global warming is an economic and technical problem that an inventive humanity will solve over the course of the 21st century. Still, congratulations are in order to Al Gore for being recognized by the Nobel committee for his persistence in trying to get humanity to pay attention to this new commons problem. But here's hoping that the solutions that are ultimately adopted don't end up creating even more problems."
» Jesse Walker: How to Win a Nobel Prize

CSI Mississippi
In the November issue of Reason magazine, and in a column for The Wall Street Journal, Senior Editor Radley Balko shines a light on Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne, a frequent witness for the state in criminal cases. Hayne says he does 1,500 to 1,800 autopsies a year. But the National Association of Medical Examiners says a medical examiner should perform no more than 250 autopsies per year. After 325, the organization refuses to certify an examiner's practice. Hayne says he's certified, he just can't remember by whom. Former Columbus, Miss., Police Chief J.D. Sanders tells Balko, "There's no question in my mind that there are innocent people doing time at Parchman Penitentiary due to the testimony of Dr. Hayne. There may even be some on death row."
» Balko in WSJ

Don't Blame China for Myanmar
"China is not the cause of Myanmar's backwardness. It may not even be much of an accomplice," writes Reason magazine's Kerry Howley, who spent a year and a half working in Myanmar. In a column for the Los Angeles Times, Howley concludes, "The West has been repeatedly frustrated in its attempts to influence a small group of secretive generals; a decade of sanctions has not brought Myanmar closer to democracy. It may be that leaning on China - a country we expect to respond rationally to incentives - channels the need to 'do something' in the same way embassy protests, candlelight vigils and online petitions do. It may also be that China is a locus of negativity already, ripe for scapegoating. Western companies with valuable oil holdings in Myanmar have attracted less attention than has China. The point isn't that wealthy nations have no role to play in coaxing Myanmar forward, or that applying pressure is futile. But casting the world in terms of all-powerful actors and weak client states is no more likely to lead to smart policymaking than casting it in terms of good and evil. A smart assessment of Myanmar starts with acknowledging how little we know, and how powerless we - and even China - may well be."

The Military Thinks On
"In the debate over the war, intellectuals have become increasingly irrelevant in shaping policy outcomes. But why blame them? Even in Congress, those opposed to the administration's Iraq policy have offered no viable alternatives, as was plain last month after Gen. David Petraeus' congressional testimony. Ironically, the real debate over ideas when it comes to Iraq appears to be taking place in the one institution generally (and unfairly) considered a graveyard for lateral thinking: the U.S. military. If there is a community of people that has tried to grasp the reality of Iraq in practical ways, in all its complexities, and that has climbed the steepest of learning curves in the past four years, it is the armed forces. That's not to say that soldiers are or should be a model for how all Americans approach Iraq; but in its quest to understand the conflict environment better, the military has had to immerse itself in the sociology of Iraq like no other. And because of that, its intense discussions of the war, by rarely descending into flagellation or self-flagellation, remain alive with opportunity." - Reason magazine's Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, examines where the debate on Iraq is headed.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interview
This week Dutch officials decided to stop paying for Ayaan Hirsi Ali's protection if she lives outside of the Netherlands. She's been under protection since 2004 when Theo van Gogh was murdered after collaborating with Hirsi Ali on a film about the oppression of women in Islamic cultures. The November issue of Reason magazine features an interview with Hirsi Ali and she states, "I don't even think that the trouble is Islam. The trouble is the West, because in the West there's this notion that we are invincible and that everyone will modernize anyway, and that what we are seeing now in Muslim countries is a craving for respect. Or it's poverty, or it's caused by colonization. The Western mind-set—that if we respect them, they’re going to respect us, that if we indulge and appease and condone and so on, the problem will go away—is delusional. The problem is not going to go away. Confront it, or it's only going to get bigger."

New at Reason.com and Reason.org

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