5 Best Tuesday Columns

Birth control, lithium, and those damn vuvuzelas

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  • Molly Redden on the Non-Temptation of Afghan Lithium "We'll be extracting lithium from the ocean before we'll be extracting it from Afghanistan," a mineral commodity specialist recently told reporters. Writing in Slate, Redden explains why that is. A large-scale mining operation in Afghanistan would be logistically inconvenient, geographically undesirable, and potentially politically disastrous. Not only that, but it was estimated as recently as 2009 that "the world's known supply of lithium was more than enough to cover the world's demand." Redden's conclusion? "There won't be any lithium coming out of Afghanistan anytime soon."
  • Rich Lowry on BP's Comfortable Seat At National Review, Lowry interrogates the partnership between BP and "über Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg," who spearheaded the company's re-branding effort in 2000. It's symptomatic of the Obama administration's relationship to big business generally--a relationship that Lowry finds disconcerting. "Fundamentally," he writes, "we don't want a free market and a system of laws to protect corporations, but to protect us from both government and corporations, especially when the two are in league with each other ... This accounts for the corporatist paradox of the Obama administration. The president is so arbitrarily anti-business that The Economist dubs him 'Vladimir Obama,' yet the same industries he demonizes support key elements of his 'reform' agenda."
  • Glenn Greenwald on the 'Weak, Helpless, Impotent' Presidency  The combative Salon blogger seethes with disgust at the newest "Obama apologist" meme, which asserts that "liberals are blaming Obama for too much because the Presidency is actually quite a weak and powerless office, and he's powerless to do most of what liberals advocate." The idea of Obama's influence being limited by the institutional constraints of the executive branch is, to Greenwald, laughable. "Apparently...the country, once every four years, spends twenty-four straight months completely fixated on who is going to be elected to a weak and powerless office," writes Greenwald. "What a strange thing to do."
  • Derrick Z. Jackson on Rituals More Offensive Than the Vuvuzela   In another almost-obligatory daily opinion about the annoyance of the South African horn creating havoc in the stands at the World Cup, the Boston Globe columnist sheds a new light on the instrument's comparatively good side. "No one in the United States has any business criticizing the vuvuzela when we still have the ridiculous raising and lowering of arms in the tomahawk chop at Atlanta Braves baseball and Florida State football games, with fans chanting to alleged Indian music as if they were at a powwow," he says. He then goes into the various borderline offensive names and mascots in college and high school sports, saying, "Curse or ban the vuvuzela if you will. But back home, our Indian sports stereotypes speak louder than 100,000 plastic horns."
  • Kelly Blanchard on Letting the Pill Go Free "Clearly, approving the use of the pill was only the beginning of the effort to meet women's contraception needs," says Blanchard, the president of Ibis Reproductive Health, in a New York Times op-ed today. She makes the case that, while the pill is effective in maintaining unwanted pregnancies, it is time to make it available over the counter, i.e. sans prescription. She says, "Women don't need a doctor to tell them if they need cold medicine or condoms, and they shouldn't need a doctor's permission to take the pill. Over-the-counter sales would expand access to safe, effective contraception, and help women take control over their sexual and reproductive lives."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.