Saturday, July 25, 2009

Intermission

Apologies for the break in posting. Technical nonsense. In the meantime, don't forget to read War in Context, Noam Chomsky and Juan Cole on Middle Eastern stuff and global politics generally. Bo Rev always has the goods on Latin America. The Nation and ZNet are top drawer representatives of the intelligent US left. Mondoweiss hosts vibrant discussion on Israel-Palestine from a Left-Liberal, pro-Palestinian US-Jewish standpoint. TomDispatch has absolutely the best in-depth political analysis essays around. Oh..and I may as well big up The Heathlander while I'm about it. The lad's going places, you mark my words.

Closer to home, I'm hoping to write something soon about the current debate over the economy that's going on in the UK. But for now, I'l say this. There's a lot of talk at the moment about public spending cuts, but when you're trying to resuscitate the national economy, strangling the patient in his bed strikes me as a pretty ill-thought out idea. The question to ask now is whether the economy is being stimulated enough to recover. Balancing the books will be a lot harder if it doesn't. Then you have to ask yourself why - when the time does come to pay off Britain's debts - it should be public services that have to bear the burden. After all, accounts can be balanced by increasing revenue as well as by cutting expenditure. So why have increased taxes on the wealthy (or indeed, on the financial speculators that got us into this hole) not come onto the agenda? The answer has something to do, I would suggest, with who's pushing this spending cuts agenda - namely the Tories and the corporate press - and the fact that the elite economic interests they represent have no interest in picking up the tab for the mess made by the calamitous failure of their favorite economic dogma: Thatcherism.

For more on that, here's Polly Toynbee, John Lanchester, and David Blanchflower. I'll try and write something myself soon.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Israel defends itself against children's toys by arresting a Nobel Peace Prize Winner

The bravery of the Israeli armed forces reached new heights this week as a boat delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza - including medical supplies and children's toys - was captured and its passengers and crew - among them former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and 1977 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire - were arrested. They are still being detained in Israel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross earlier this week described the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza as people "trapped in despair" as a result of Israel's blockade. Obviously its vital for Israel's self-defence that Gazans don't get medical aid and their kids don't have toys.

More on the Free Gaza boat here.

Elsewhere, Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, has an excellent op-ed in the LA Times in which she cuts through some of the crap regarding the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" and locates the bottom line:

"The debate over Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is often framed in terms of whether they should be “frozen” or allowed to grow “naturally.” But that is akin to asking whether a thief should be allowed merely to keep his ill-gotten gains or steal some more. It misses the most fundamental point: Under international law, all settlements on occupied territory are unlawful. And there is only one remedy: Israel should dismantle them, relocate the settlers within its recognized 1967 borders and compensate Palestinians for the losses the settlements have caused."

Read the whole article here.

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