From Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature, a passage relevant to the whole post-Newtown gun debate, and the reason for the higher incidence of violent crime in the US as compared to other Western countries. He quotes historian Peter Spierenburg's aphorism that "democracy came too early" to America:
In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the people took over the apparatus of the state. In America, the people took over the state before it had forced them to lay down their arms - which, as the Second Amendment famously affirms, they reserve the right to keep and bear. In other words Americans, and especially Americans in the South and West, never fully signed on to a social contract that would vest the government with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. In much of American history, legitimate force was also wielded by p0sses, vigilantes, lynch mobs, company police, detective agencies, and Pinkertons, and even more often kept as a prerogative of the individual.
KUWAIT CITY, Dec 26: Kuwait Society of Engineers on Monday hosted Astronomer Dr Saleh Al-Ojeiri in an open meeting organized by the Commission of Public Relations.
Al-Ojeiri spoke about many issues related to the end of the world, as well as technological advancement and its impact on education and behavior of a country, and the emergence of astronomy in Kuwait.
According to Al-Ojeiri he tried from early age to conduct research on the end of the world but he realized only God knows about the time, and it is not an issue that can be calculated by humans.
He mentioned that scientists have done researches on other planets and discovered in those planets are many creatures different from those on earth — in terms of size and form, stressing that Jupiter for example is 1,200 times bigger than Earth, so do [sic] the creatures living on it.
Also, he discussed the history of education in Kuwait and said the people in olden days searched for knowledge in many ways, even though the system of education at that time wasn’t improved as it is nowadays.
The Eight Immortals have a stature in China on a par with that of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson in the US. They emerged after Mao’s death in 1976, at a time when the economy was in ruins, and, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, turned everything round. They opened up the economy to the outside world, introduced capitalist reforms - though they were always careful to keep up the Communist front which provided their only claim to power - and dragged China into the modern world.
Now, according to an analysis at Bloomberg News, their descendants - the princelings - have, through nepotism and greed unhindered by any accountability or an open press, become the new elite: fabulously wealthy, and with a firm grip still on the levers of power. China’s new leader Xi Jinping is a princeling, as a descendant of a revolutionary fighter and vice premier. So are three other members of the newly installed seven-member ruling Politburo Standing Committee.
In the 1980s, they were chosen to run the new state conglomerates. In the 1990s, they tapped into real estate and the nation’s growing hunger for coal and steel. Today the Immortals’ grandchildren are players in private equity amid China’s integration into the global economy.
Twenty-six of the heirs ran or held top positions in state- owned companies that dominate the economy, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. Three children alone -- General Wang’s son, Wang Jun; Deng’s son-in-law, He Ping; and Chen Yuan, the son of Mao’s economic tsar -- headed or still run state-owned companies with combined assets of about $1.6 trillion in 2011. That is equivalent to more than a fifth of China’s annual economic output.
The families benefited from their control of state companies, amassing private wealth as they embraced the market economy. Forty-three of the 103 ran their own business or became executives in private firms, according to Bloomberg data. [...]
“The Chinese Communist Party, pretty much led by these eight people, established their legitimacy as rulers of China because they were stronger and tougher than the other guys,” said Barry Naughton, a professor of Chinese economy at the University of California, San Diego. “And now they’re losing it, because they haven’t been able to control their own greed and selfishness.”
China’s rich-poor divide is one of the widest in the world -- 50 percent above a level analysts use to predict potential unrest, according to a Chinese central bank-backed survey published this month. Protests, riots and other disturbances, often linked to local corruption and environmental degradation, doubled in five years to almost 500 a day in 2010.
“Ordinary people in China are very aware of these princelings, and when they think about changing the country, they feel a sense of despair because of the power of such entrenched interest groups,” Naughton said.
Famous for "Rescue Me", but far from a one-hit wonder: in fact one of the most interesting of all of that generation of Soul singers, with her determination to fight for what she was owed, and her marriage to Art Ensemble of Chicago stalwart Lester Bowie.