According to the New York Times, French Socialist president François Hollande demanded and received the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the country’s leading conservative newspaper. If that sounds impossibly high-handed, consider the background, as reported in the Times:
The publisher, Serge Dassault, is a senator from [ousted President Nicolas] Sarkozy’s political party [and thus opposed to Hollande]. But Mr. Dassault also heads a major military contractor, and there was widespread speculation that [Figaro editor Étienne] Mougeotte’s ouster was meant to put the Dassault group in good stead with the new president.
For an American reader, it would be natural to turn the page with a murmur of thanks that such things don’t go on in our country. Don’tbe so sure:
[Since-convicted Illinois Gov. Rod] Blagojevich, Harris and others are also alleged [in the federal indictment] to have withheld state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field. The statement says this was done to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were critical of Blagojevich.
Read the whole thing. He has an interesting story about Ted Kennedy passing legislation to force a change in ownership of the Boston paper most consistently critical of him.
Norman Borlaug, the founder and driving force behind the revolution in high-yield agriculture that Paul Ehrlich predicted was impossible, has died at the age of 98 95. Like Radley Balko, I am struck by how uneventful his passing is likely to be in contrast to the homage paid to self-promoting seekers of power like Ted Kennedy who never accomplished a tiny fraction of what Borlaug achieved. Reason has a good tribute here. Some exceprts:
In the late 1960s, most experts were speaking of imminent global famines in which billions would perish. "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. "In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Ehrlich also said, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971." He insisted that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980."
But Borlaug and his team were already engaged in the kind of crash program that Ehrlich declared wouldn't work. Their dwarf wheat varieties resisted a wide spectrum of plant pests and diseases and produced two to three times more grain than the traditional varieties. In 1965, they had begun a massive campaign to ship the miracle wheat to Pakistan and India and teach local farmers how to cultivate it properly. By 1968, when Ehrlich's book appeared, the U.S. Agency for International Development had already hailed Borlaug's achievement as a "Green Revolution."
In Pakistan, wheat yields rose from 4.6 million tons in 1965 to 8.4 million in 1970. In India, they rose from 12.3 million tons to 20 million. And the yields continue to increase. Last year, India harvested a record 73.5 million tons of wheat, up 11.5 percent from 1998. Since Ehrlich's dire predictions in 1968, India's population has more than doubled, its wheat production has more than tripled, and its economy has grown nine-fold. Soon after Borlaug's success with wheat, his colleagues at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research developed high-yield rice varieties that quickly spread the Green Revolution through most of Asia.
The contrast to Paul Ehrlich is particularly stunning. Most folks have heard of Ehrlich and his prophesies of doom. But Ehrlich has been wrong in his prophesies more times than anyone can count. Borlaug fed a billion people while Ehrlich was making money and fame selling books saying that the billion couldn't be fed -- but few have even heard of Borlaug. Today, leftists in power in the US and most European nations continue to reject Borlaug's approaches, and continue to revere Ehrlich (just this year, Obama chose a disciple of Ehrlich, John Holdren, as his Science czar).
Continuing proof that the world moves forward in spite of, rather than because of, governments.
I walked in on my wife watching Oprah interview Tania Harding. Eeeeeeyuk. I thought -- could there be any TV show I would want to watch less?
Well, actually, it turns out there was: A three day royal funeral and ongoing slobbery kiss for Ted Kennedy, a man who literally got away with murder and dedicated his life to trying to hide his poor impulse control better than the rest of his family hides theirs. I watched about 5 minutes of the spectacle and all I could see was a man being revered for, uh, being related to people folks really liked a lot. What's next, a public funeral for John Lennon's brother? It is just so weird to me that people revere this family not in spite of, but actually because, they are so relentless in trying to exercise power over us all.
Postscript: I am confused on the military service qualifications to be buried in Arlington, as was Ted Kennedy. My sense is that Arlington is pretty full, and that being buried there is reserved as a special honor for those with unique or heroic service (like that of Ted's brother). I am having a hard time in this Wikipedia description of Ted Kennedy's military service finding what put him over the top for burial at Arlington:
The Kennedy's have never been shy about using the government as their own personal plaything:
Senator Ted Kennedy, who is gravely ill with brain cancer, has sent a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers requesting a change in the state law that determines how his Senate seat would be filled if it became vacant before his eighth full term ends in 2012. Current law mandates that a special election be held at least 145 days after the seat becomes available. Mr. Kennedy is concerned that such a delay could leave his fellow Democrats in the Senate one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority for months while a special election takes place...
What Mr. Kennedy doesn't volunteer is that he orchestrated the 2004 succession law revision that now requires a special election, and for similarly partisan reasons. John Kerry, the other Senator from the state, was running for President in 2004, and Mr. Kennedy wanted the law changed so the Republican Governor at the time, Mitt Romney, could not name Mr. Kerry's replacement.
"Prodded by a personal appeal from Senator Edward M. Kennedy," reported the Boston Globe in 2004, "Democratic legislative leaders have agreed to take up a stalled bill creating a special election process to replace U.S. Senator John F. Kerry if he wins the presidency."
By the time they reach the age of 3, more than one-third of low-income
urban children are already overweight or obese, according to a study
released yesterday that provides alarming evidence that the nation's
battle of the bulge begins when toddlers are barely out of diapers.