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Off the Beaten Path ...

I noticed a couple of interesting stories today that you may have missed (because they don't directly deal with health care or other "current events") -- but are still very much worth reading.

First, as the NYT reported, "Leszek Kolakowski, a Polish philosopher who rejected Marxism and helped inspire the Solidarity movement in his native land while living in exile," has passed away. 

If you're unfamiliar with Kolakowski, his story is fascinating, and I urge you to read it here.

Second, Ken Blackwell has a terrific piece up over at AmSpec on US/Indian relations.  Here's an excerpt:

When I served as a U.S. Ambassador, I never found it productive at the UN or in any other international venues to go around apologizing for U.S. conduct. It should be clear that all Americans can think of things in our history we regret. I hate to think, for example, that Americans were ever involved in the slave trade. But I hardly think it's helpful to go to Africa or the Caribbean nations and bring that issue up now. In fact, when President Jefferson in 1806 called upon Congress to act quickly to eradicate the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, he called it a violation of the "human rights" of innocent Africans. He used the strongest anti-slavery language of any president prior to Abraham Lincoln. If only President Jefferson had coupled his ban on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade with a congressional ban on the interstate commerce in human beings, we might have been able to avoid the horrors of civil war.

While I do not recommend apologies to other nations as a tool of diplomacy, there is certainly one deeply flawed aspect of U.S.-Indian relations we here at home should all acknowledge -- forced sterilizations in that continental nation. While some American liberals like best-selling author Paul Ehrlich demanded concerted action against what he called "the Population Bomb," India bore the brunt of international demands for population control to be linked to development aid.

The New York Times reported what happened in India:

''The police literally dragged people in from the fields to the vasectomy table,'' he said.

As a result there were more than six million sterilizations that year, three times the number of any previous year.

Another result was that the public outrage generated by the program was so great as to become a factor in Mrs. Gandhi's electoral defeat in 1977.

Even teenage boys, it was reported, were being pressured into getting vasectomies.


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