United Nations

A Time to Act
February 23, 2012

Thousands of people have already died in Syria, and it appears likely that thousands more will die in the weeks and months to come. Bashar Al Assad’s forces show no sign of relenting, and the international community shows no sign of coming to the rescue of the Syrian people. China and Russia have effectively blocked any chance of working through the United Nations. World opinion is horrified, but world leaders are paralyzed. No lack of diplomatic effort has been expended in trying to get Assad to back down; but these efforts have done nothing to stop the bloodshed.

Feebleness at the UN, Extremism in Nigeria
February 20, 2012

I. The U.N. General Assembly has, by a vote of 137-12 (with 17 abstentions), condemned Bashar al-Assad and his relentless killing of the Syrian opposition which has gone on for nearly a year. The news was on page 12 of The New York Times which tells you just how significant the paper’s editors thought the resolution to be. The gifted reporter, Rick Gladstone, told us just about everything you would want to know.

Poverty as Destiny
February 08, 2012

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityBy Katherine Boo (Random House, 256 pp., $27) Early in Katherine Boo’s unforgettable book, a boy from Annawadi, a Mumbai slum, rushes into his makeshift school, bleeding. The classroom is nothing more than a single room in a neighbor’s hut, but it is the only place he can go for medical attention after being hit by a car. No sooner has the teacher begun treating his wound than his mother surges into the hut, wielding a large piece of scrap metal and screaming: “No car will kill you! No god will save you!

Damascus Calling
February 08, 2012

When the sordid Sergey Lavrov demanded to know “the endgame” of the Security Council’s attempt to interfere with Bashar Assad’s atrocities against his people, Hillary Clinton replied that “the endgame in the absence of us acting together as the international community, I fear, is civil war.” According to many press accounts, there is already a civil war in Syria.

Reason, Almost
January 25, 2012

Thinking, Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 499 pp., $30) Humans are rational animals. In addition to the rich perceptual, cognitive, and motivational systems that they share with other creatures, they have a unique way of forming beliefs and preferences that is not instinctive but deliberate.

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