May 2024

24 May 2024

Black Outs

Selma Dabbagh

When a building under construction collapsed in George, South Africa, last week, dozens of workers were buried beneath the rubble. Delvin Safers, an electrician, was trapped next to a colleague who was ‘already deceased’. His girlfriend sent him photographs of their two-year-old son to keep his spirits up. Without the light from his phone, everything was dark. That was the hardest part of it, Safers said. ‘When you close your eyes, it is dark, then you open them, it is the same thing.’ He was freed after a couple of days, with the use of his legs. ‘That was the main thing,’ his father said, ‘when I saw my son walk.’ His life was saved thanks to the large teams of rescue workers with hard hats, sniffer dogs, cranes, bulldozers and trucks who came to his rescue.

In Gaza more than ten thousand people are trapped under the rubble, according to the United Nations.

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22 May 2024

The Real Complaining Party

Michael O’Connor

According to one influential view, crimes against humanity can and must be prosecuted irrespective of national borders: at the Nuremberg trials, the American prosecutor, Robert Jackson, declared that ‘the real complaining party at your bar is civilisation’.

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21 May 2024

Integrated Vision

Tom Stevenson

The military protection of Saudi Arabia has been the centrepiece of US power in the world’s major hydrocarbon-producing region for decades. For most of that time the US has also committed itself to the protection and support of Israel. American strategic planners have usually managed this balancing act without trouble, but on occasion it has posed problems.

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17 May 2024

The Algarve moves right

Franklin Nelson

Chega, led by a former football pundit, is a serious test of Portuguese democracy, both because it harks back to Salazarism and because it is increasingly popular. The general election in March saw an alliance of right-wing parties form a minority government after nine years of Socialist rule. But Chega more than quadrupled its presence in parliament, winning fifty seats, and became the dominant force in the Algarve. The new prime minister, Luís Montenegro, has refused to enter a coalition with the party, but that principled position may not last. 

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13 May 2024

Tractor Beams

Chris Lintott

The evening sky on Friday lit up with a bright auroral display. Such phenomena are usually confined to the polar regions, but this one was seen as far south as Mississippi and as far north as Melbourne.

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9 May 2024

At the Whitechapel

Brian Dillon

The first room of Zineb Sedira’s exhibition Dreams Have No Titles (at the Whitechapel Gallery until 12 May) is both inviting and confusing. 

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8 May 2024

Bevan’s Collapsing Dream

Michael Chessum

An idea as radical as the nationalisation of the healthcare system, in the teeth of opposition from the medical profession, would never be entertained by the current crop of pundits and political managers. It is only by making Nye Bevan and the NHS into national treasures that our political establishment can leave this contradiction unexamined.

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8 May 2024

Dallas Penn

Alex Abramovich

The Dallas Penn I knew was always figuring out new ways to use the internet, blogging and vlogging (about Ghetto Big Macs, bodegas, baseball stadiums, sneakers) before blogging or vlogging were much of a thing, and co-hosting a pioneering hip-hop podcast, the Combat Jack Show. He’d come a long way from his stomping grounds but never forgot them or left them behind.

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7 May 2024

At Dien Bien Phu

Chris Mullin

‘And this,’ our guide said, ‘is where Colonel Piroth committed suicide.’ We were standing by a fenced-off scrap of wasteland on the edge of a busy market. The only evidence that anything of significance happened there is a white cement block carved with an image of two artillery pieces and an almost illegible inscription in Vietnamese. The entrance to Piroth’s bunker, if it still exists, is overgrown and filled with rubble. Piroth was the deputy commander of French forces at Dien Bien Phu, a one-armed war hero and gunnery expert who had boasted that ‘no Viet Minh cannon will be able to fire three rounds before being destroyed by my artillery.’ In fact the Viet Minh made short work of the French artillery. ‘I have been dishonoured,’ Piroth said. Soon afterwards, using his teeth, he pulled the safety pin out of a grenade and blew himself to pieces.

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6 May 2024

Under the Jumbotron

Anahid Nersessian

On 25 April, a large group of students at the University of California, Los Angeles, set up an encampment on the main quadrangle of their campus. Flanked on all sides by plywood barricades, the Palestine Solidarity Encampment included smaller tents for sleeping as well as larger enclosures for food, first aid, electronics (phone chargers, batteries), musical instruments and art supplies. There was also a library, which a paper sign taped to a tree designated the Refaat Alareer Memorial Library, in honour of the Palestinian writer and teacher who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in December 2023.

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6 May 2024

‘Man Number 4’

Selma Dabbagh

Last November, I wrote of waiting for the grey ticks to double up and go blue when sending WhatsApp messages to my friend Ghassan Abu Sittah, who in October had narrowly missed being killed in the bombing of al-Ahli Arab and al-Shifa Hospitals in Gaza, where he had travelled from London to work as a surgeon. He survived and was inaugurated as the rector of Glasgow University, with 80 per cent of the student vote, on 11 April. He has set up a fund for Palestinian children, planning ‘for the day after’, and is speaking tirelessly to the media and audiences across the world. 

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2 May 2024

Liberalism without Accountability

Gareth Fearn

Witnessing the scores of militarised police being deployed to round up student protesters, many people in the United States and across the world may be wondering what the difference is between supposedly progressive, liberal government and authoritarian, reactionary leaders like Donald Trump. The latter are certainly worse, but liberalism’s failures mean that the threat of authoritarianism is a less terrifying spectre than it ought to be.

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