- Holman Jenkins on Google vs. Apple The Wall Street Journal columnist gives a chatty, accessible take on the differences between Google's approach to the smartphone market and Apple's. Where Apple "insists on keeping software and hardware under tight control," Google's open-source, come-one-come-all philosophy will make it easier for the company to "benefit from competition among multiple handset makers, producing lower prices and faster innovation." There are advantages and drawbacks to each strategy, Jenkins points out, but at the end of the day, he'd "rather be Google."
- Harold Meyerson on Realism in Recession At The Washington Post, Meyerson submits a withering critique of "elites [who] don't really believe we're still in recession. Or maybe, they just don't care." The conservative furor over the swelling deficit misses a crucial point, says Meyerson: Americans need jobs, and "nobody has identified any future engine of American economic growth save countercyclical public investment." Stimulus isn't a cure-all, Meyerson admits, but it will help "preserve and create enough jobs to keep a recession from becoming a depression and, more particularly... keep still-reeling state and local governments from deepening the downturn by laying off thousands more workers. We did just that last year."
- J. Craig Venter and Daniel Gibson on Synthetic Cells In a technical but fascinating column at The Wall Street Journal, Venter, a genomic scientist, and Gibson, a molecular biologist, discuss the process of assembling the world's first synthetic cell. This wasn't a matter of creating "life from scratch," the authors write; rather, they "transformed existing life into new life." Venter and Gibson are aware that some people are uncomfortable with the implications of their research. But, they point out, "there are approximately 6.8 billion people on our planet, soon to be more than nine billion ... How will it be possible to provide for more than nine billion without some substantial scientific advances? We believe that synthetic genomics can provide one solution."
- Ben Macintyre on Humanity in War "Most of us are lucky enough not to have to face the moral quandaries of warfare, or experience the brutalising effect of a battlefield," writes the London Times columnist. "This makes it all the more important to look to the past for guidance." Reflecting on the experience of the Allies and Nazis during World War II and the atrocities committed by both sides ("Allied troops killed, often ruthlessly, sometimes unnecessarily" he concedes), Macintyre concludes that torture and other wartime practices often considered taboo remain in a gray area to Britain in particular and the West in general. There is hope for dignity and nobility, however; after all, while Allied troops did commit acts of incredible violence during war, they did so "seldom with pleasure, and still less with that perverse sense of entitlement and virtue assumed by the Nazis."
- John Yoo on an Executive Without Much Privilege In a New York Times op-ed today, former Justice Department official Yoo brings to light the possible controversy of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's views on executive power. Citing an article Kagan wrote for the Harvard Law Review on the "Presidential Administration," Yoo questions the "misimpression" that Kagan is supportive of unitarian presidential authority and notes that in fact, Kagan believes that Congress should have the final say in many presidential matters, including staffing. He says, "if presidents cannot constitutionally command their secretaries of defense, as Ms. Kagan would allow, they certainly do not have the power to detain or interrogate enemy terrorists without criminal trial, monitor their communications or fire missiles at their leaders."
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Jared Keller is a journalist based in New York. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and Al Jazeera America, and is a former associate editor for The Atlantic.
Alex Eichler is a reporter at The Huffington Post and a former staff writer at The Atlantic Wire.