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clintons

Nine times out of ten, or ninety-nine times out of a hundred, electoral politics at the national level these days does more to disable democracy than to enhance it.

Sometimes, though, elections can be good for something. This may be one of those times.

Until recently, it seemed that the 2016 Presidential election, a factor in American politics since at least 2014, would, as usual, deflect democratic impulses into useless electoral pursuits – and, as if that weren’t bad enough, that it would do so in a boring, unedifying way: by pitting two pro-corporate, interventionist-minded, military-industrial complex friendly political families, the Clintons and the Bushes, against one another. (more…)


Ban_Ki-moon

So now we have another anti-Semite. Mazal Tov (“good luck”) as we say in Hebrew. His name is Ban Ki-moon, and he is the Secretary General of the UN. In practice, the highest international official, a kind of World Prime Minister.

He has dared to criticize the Israeli government, as well as the Palestinian Authority, for sabotaging the peace process, and thereby making Israeli-Palestinian peace almost impossible. He emphasized that there is a world-wide consensus about the “Two-state Solution” being the only possible one.

The formulation sounded neutral, but Ban made it quite clear that almost the entire fault lies with the Israeli side. Since the Palestinians are living under a hostile occupation, there is not much they can do one way or the other. (more…)


Palestinian activists in a reading human chain in Jerusalem's Old City

Far from condemning them to oblivion, Israel’s policy of withholding the bodies of martyrs has cemented a renewed sense of solidarity among Palestinians.

In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined five major emotional stages that people tend to go through while coping with the death or loss of a loved one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Over three months have passed since the killing of his son Bahaa, but Muhammad Alayan has not been able to experience any of them. The 60-year-old lawyer has been too immersed in the struggle to recover the body of his slain son to actually contemplate his loss.

“More than a hundred days have gone and I couldn’t sit with my wife and three (remaining) children at one table together and realize that there is an empty chair no longer occupied by Bahaa,” Muhammad Alayan told me. “We have had no time to discuss his absence because our entire lives have revolved around getting him back.” (more…)


utopia

Neoliberalism is a utopian vision based on a ‘world without poverty’. What if we imagine a world in which the problem is not poverty but wealth?

It is generally accepted that to label a political argument as utopian is in part to condemn it. And yet, a great many political arguments have some utopian refrain. There is something in the possibilities of utopian thinking that seems too rich, too exciting, too open-bordered to pass up. Even in an age in which we are told that politics has become more moderate, more technical, and obsessed with ‘evidence-based policy’, we find explorations of how we might live if we could do exactly that. And we come across utopian thinking even in the oddest places.

Imagine a beautiful island in uncharted emerald seas. On that island, everyone gets a wage that reflects their productivity, leaving just enough profit for the entrepreneur to invest in their company and remain competitive. This allows each and every firm to provide goods and services at the cheapest price to a nation of consumers who seek out the best value for money in all things. There is little waste. Everybody can know about the state of the markets for jobs and goods and services, and everybody is free to change their working and purchasing preferences. This makes everybody happy. Society is a great agglomeration of little acts of decision-making in the marketplace, which has its own positive overall effects in producing a near-perfect balance between wages, prices, and investment. (more…)


terrorist

Terrorism has many forms and many faces, but the most terrible of them is cold cruelty. We are asked to believe that terrorists consist of dirty lunatics, running around with bombs, machine guns and explosive belts. That’s how we are told to imagine them. Many of them are bearded; almost all are “foreign looking”, non-white, non-Western. In summary they are wife beaters, child rapists and Greek and Roman statue destroyers.

Actually, during the Cold War, there were some white looking “terrorists” – the left-wingers belonging to several revolutionary cells, in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. But only now we are learning that the terrorist acts attributed to them were actually committed by the Empire, by several European right-wing governments and intelligence services. You remember, the NATO countries were blowing up those trains inside the tunnels, or bombing entire train stations… (more…)


Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan

About 1,100 Kurdish and Turkish academics signed a letter condemning the ongoing atrocities by the Turkish army. In response, Erdoğan accused them of treason.

“I am fine with everything except for imprisonment,” says a recently appointed Assistant Professor from one of the most prominent universities of the country, in Ankara.

“Everything happened so quickly. First, we signed the statement, the next day President Erdoğan was condemning us with the worst of adjectives, immediately after that, came the inquiries.”

His personal anxiety in the face of the latest clampdown on academics in Turkey is one example, but it is representative of the common mood among hundreds of young academics who have become part of a movement “Academics for Peace” through their signing of a statement. (more…)


The_Fillmore

This story is prompted by a picket sign I saw at a recent anti-police brutality protest sponsored by two San Francisco families, one Latino and one Black, whose sons were shot dead in separate incidents following a barrage of police bullets.

Among the crowd of 150 activists standing in the pouring rain in front of the police-barricaded Bayview police station, were four young people holding a sign that simply read, “The Last 3 Percent.”

I thought their message was both powerful and poignant.

The words refer not directly to police violence but to the broader problem of the mass exodos of African Americans from San Francisco. Thousands have left their city of birth not because of any personal preference but because of political decisions and economic policies, many set into motion several decades ago. (more…)


zahran alloush

News of the death of prominent anti-Assad commander (or ‘terrorist,’ ‘rebel,’ ‘opposition commander,’ etc.) Zahran Alloush has the potential to radically alter the nature of the war in Syria.

Considering Alloush and other senior members of the leadership of the Salafist militant group Jaish al-Islam were killed in a major airstrike carried out by the Syrian air force, there is undoubtedly going to be a transformation on the ground as initiative on the battlefield, particularly in Southern Syria, shifts still further to the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.

With Alloush out of the picture and, based on reports coming from sources inside the opposition, significant disarray at the uppermost echelons of leadership of the barely cohesive “Islamic Army,” it seems clear that the Syrian government is likely to move in to reestablish control of Douma, Ghouta, and other rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. (more…)


Kerry_and_Saudi_Royal_Family

In the past, insurgent movements have been systematically demonised, whether it was the FLN, the Mau-Mau, the Vietcong, the Khmer Rouge, the PLO, the Tamil Tigers, the FARC, etc. etc. Their ideologies were nationalist and social, often inspired by Stalin and/or Mao. These were Cold War insurgencies against European and American imperial dominion, and they had the logistical and/or verbal support of Russia and/or China. Though they were legitimately fighting to get rid of foreign rule and oppression, they were cast as proxy combatants instigated and encouraged by the empire’s Cold War opponents. They were enemies threatening the existence of Western societies, so that their extermination justified the use of high explosives, napalm, agent-orange, drugs, murder and mayhem. Insurgents were savage terrorists who killed civilians with knives and hand grenades, so their villages and towns could justifiably be reduced to rubble by aerial bombing. (more…)


Abu_Ghraib_37

I still remember that smug look on his face, followed by the matter-of-fact remarks that had western journalists laugh out loud.

“I’m now going to show you a picture of the luckiest man in Iraq,” General Norman Schwarzkopf, known as ‘Stormin’ Norman, said at a press conference sometime in 1991, as he showed a video of US bombs blasting an Iraqi bridge, seconds after the Iraqi driver managed to cross it.

But then, a far more unjust invasion and war followed in 2003, following a decade-long siege that cost Iraq a million of its children and its entire economy. (more…)