Holy Water

Uri Avnery on Israel’s new police chief and the wave of rejuvenated religion being ridden by Netanyahu:

The Israeli Police needed a new commander … When Binyamin Netanyahu announced his choice, everybody was amazed. Roni Alsheikh? Where the hell did he come from? He does not look like a policeman, except for his mustache. He never had the slightest connection with police work. He was, actually, the secret deputy chief of the Shin Bet.

He is the first police chief to wear a kippah. Also the first who was once a settler. So we were all waiting for his first significant utterance. It came this week and concerned mothers mourning their sons. Bereavement, Alsheikh asserted, is really a Jewish feeling. Jewish mothers mourn their children. Arab mothers don’t. More »

Idomeni’s Entrepreneurs

Outside the Greek village of Idomeni, near the Macedonian border, about 15,000 people are living in small recreational tents and a few UN emergency shelters, waiting to continue their journey to Western Europe. The Macedonians shut the gates a week ago. They enforced their decision with tear gas and the threat of water cannon. The frontier occasionally opens and few dozen people cross, but more arrive every day than leave. In the camp, small signs of permanence have started to appear. More »

The Murder of Berta Cáceres

According to the campaign group Global Witness, 116 environmental activists were killed in 2014, a fifth more than the year before. Many of them were leaders of indigenous communities defending their land. The most dangerous place for environmental campaigners is Honduras, where 101 were reported killed between 2010 and 2014. The chief activist of the indigenous Lenca community, Berta Cáceres, a campaigner against dams and mining projects, told Global Witness that she led a ‘fugitive existence’ because of death threats. ‘They follow me,’ she said. ‘They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me, they threaten my family. This is what we face.’ She was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize. Last Thursday she was murdered. More »

Don’t Blame China for the Steel Crisis

In the House of Commons last Monday, the business secretary Sajid Javid said Britain’s steel industry had experienced an ‘absolutely devastating’ few months. ‘Punitive tariffs and sky-high duties always seem like a nice, easy solution,’ he went on, ‘but the truth is that excessive, protectionist trade tariffs simply do not work.’ Conservative MPs voted down Labour’s motion, which called for tougher penalties on the dumping of Chinese steel in Europe, by 288 votes to 239. More »

The Swedish Alternative to Austerity

Back in Sweden again. (I travel back and forth.) What strikes me this time is the great contrast between the political and economic mood here and in the UK. Britain is gripped by ‘austerity’, and full of gloom and doom (except for the very rich). More cuts in social provision are promised, hitting the poorest and most disadvantaged, and the NHS is collapsing for want of funds. The government is using the ‘crisis’ to extend privatisation and diminish the state, on what appear to be purely ideological grounds. More »

Ireland’s New Political Order

When Michael Noonan, the finance minister in Ireland’s outgoing Fine Gael-Labour coalition, said that ‘party allegiances are reverting back to what was the norm over the years,’ he might as well have been clicking his heels together and murmuring ‘there’s no place like home.’ The 2016 general election marked another stage in the disruption of the old political order, leaving Irish politics more fragmented and unpredictable than ever before. More »

Democrats Abroad

Super Tuesday didn’t begin at 6 a.m. in Virginia, USA, but at 12.01 a.m. in Wellington, New Zealand, which declared for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton by 21 votes to 6 (with one spoiled ballot). Since 1988, Democrats Abroad – members of the Democratic Party who live overseas – has been considered a state in the presidential primaries. It sends 21 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, only slightly fewer than Wyoming, North Dakota or Alaska. (Republicans living abroad have to vote by absentee ballot in their home state.) In 2008, DA was among a handful of states on Super Tuesday to declare overwhelmingly for Obama, who until then had been more or less tied with Clinton. More »

In Weissensee

weissensee cemetery

Ilya B., my great-grandfather, is buried in the Jewish cemetery at Weissensee in Berlin. He was born around 1880, into a middle-class family in Kiev, which was then part of the Russian Empire. Like many Jews in Kiev at the time, he spoke Russian, not Ukrainian. Russian was the language of power, essential for minorities who wanted access to jobs or education. More »

The Voice of Moderation

Most newspapers and magazines these days (including, yes, the LRB) send out barrages of emails in their campaigns to lure readers into subscribing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, though, what exactly they want readers for, or what exactly it is they think they are offering them: ‘news’ hardly seems the word for a lot of it. Nothing wrong with taking a line, of course, but there’s a difference between taking a line and crossing one. No prizes for guessing which paper sent out the following bundle of headlines.

Rotherham child abuse gang leader wanted IVF
Pupils who go private get ahead by two years
City lawyer in court over ‘sex outside station’
Peerages for Cameron supporters in EU referendum campaign
‘Meddling’ Britain feels wrath of Iran
Refugees can be cleared from Jungle, French court decides

More »

Music of the Spheres

In a distant galaxy, long ago, a pair of black holes, each about thirty times more massive than our sun, began to orbit one another. Over the next several hundred million years, gravitational waves generated by their motion caused them to spiral together, slowly at first but gathering speed as they came closer and closer, until they were whirling about one another at the same rate as the blades in a kitchen blender. They eventually slammed together at about a third of the speed of light, emitting a last burst of gravitational waves before settling down to the sedate life of an ‘ordinary’ black hole. More »

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Dean Alexander Coulter on Get in Formation: Thanks for the passionate conspectus of Lemonade. I was surprised to be so affected by Bey's album. I think it's a great work, visually, musically...
    • bluecat on A Whisper of a Beard: As always with Bosch, I find myself marvelling over mysterious details, usually in the distance - what is going on, on the right hand leaf of the trip...
    • editor@dailydetox.org on Investors v. States: Stunts such as TTIP never mention liberalizing the residence and employment rules so that people on either side could live and work wherever they choo...
    • streetsj on Investors v. States: Well, I guess they make out like bandits whatever. For a change I agree with some of what Glenn Newey says but it is also useful to read JonathanD...
    • break.itoff on Get in Formation: I agree with the above comment, and would simply add that I am getting tired of being told to line up behind this particular diva.

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement