Posts Tagged ‘Cost of war’

The passing scene: Links & comments 10/10/14

October 10, 2014

Where to get a free college degree by Lynn O’Shaughnessy for CBS MoneyWatch.

Germany just made college tuition free to everyone, including Americans and other foreigners.  Students also get discounts for food, clothing and events tickets, and free or inexpensive transportation.

Tuition had been free prior to 2006.  Then German states started charging tuition, typically $630 a semester.  Critics said it was unfair to make college education depend on ability to pay and the states one by one repealed tuition charges.  Lower Saxony, the last holdout, repealed college tuition fees last week.

However, this does not mean that just anybody can enroll in a German university.  You have to be proficient in German, which isn’t an easy language, and you have to pass an entrance examination, which I don’t think would be easy, either.

The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture by Ric Morin for The Atlantic.

An Amish scientist—yes, there are Amish scientists—has discovered a way to fight pests without chemical poisons.  It is based on using nutrients to build up plants’ natural immune systems.   This is a step beyond standard organic farming, because it is pro-active action to make plants healthier.

Generator Produces 250,000 Watts Without Consuming Fuel by Kevin Bullis for MIT Technology Review.

A startup company called Alpha Energy has invented a new thermoelectric material, which converts heat into electricity more efficiently than other such materials.   Its generator runs on waste heat from other generators and industrial engines.  It’s not perpetual motion, but it improves energy efficiency.

Destroying a $30,000 Islamic State pickup truck can cost US $500,000 by Justine Drennan for Foreign Policy (via Stars and Stripes)

To tell the truth, I thought it cost more.

Iraq, Afghanistan: Was it worth it?

September 10, 2011

This chart was taken from The American Prospect. Double click to view.

The United States armed forces did the world a favor by ridding it of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.  The question is: At what price in American lives, treasure and liberties, and in the lives of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries?

Saddam Hussein was a cruel tyrant.  He combined the totalitarian control of a Stalin with the cruelty of a Caligula or Nero.  One of the things he did was to promulgate a law to punish those who spoke disrespectfully of him and his sons by cutting out their tongues.  Amnesty International in an annual report on Iraq reported on non-verbal interviews with people whose tongues had been cut out.

Click on Tales of the Tyrant for a 2002 sketch of Saddam Hussein in power by Mark Bowden in The Atlantic.

Osama bin Laden was a ruthless terrorist. One of the things he did was order Al Qaeda to murder the respected Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Massoud a few days before the 9/11 attacks.  Massound was a leader of Afghan resistance to the Soviets, an opponent of the Taliban and a devout Sunni Muslim devoted to the teachings of the Sufi mystic Al-Ghazzali.  Bin Laden foresaw that the United States would invade Afghanistan, and he did not wish there to be any credible alternative to the Taliban.

Click on The crimes of Al Qaeda terrorism for my earlier post on Al Qaeda’s record.

Researchers at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University estimate that 225,000 people have died as a result of those wars, including 6,051 American troops and at least 137,000 Iraqi and Afghan civilians.  Click on Costs of War for the study, the basis of the chart above.