CODEPINK Protester Victorious Over AIPAC Assailant

by Medea Benjamin

It is not every day that the voices for justice triumph over the actions of the rich and powerful, especially when it comes to the Israel-Palestine debate. That’s why it is so important to acknowledge and celebrate the settlement just negotiated by CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah and her lawyers after suing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) volunteer lobbyist Stanley Shulster.

It all started on May 24, 2011, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, DC speaking before a joint session of Congress. Abileah, a 29-year-old Jewish woman who has traveled to the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, was in the audience. She became more and more appalled as she listened to Netanyahu’s speech and watched our congresspeople giving him a stream of standing ovations. “I couldn’t watch this hero’s welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won’t lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the Palestinian unity government,” said Abileah.

So Abileah did what most people would never have the courage to do. She got up and shouted: “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!” And she unfurled a banner that read: “Occupying Land is Indefensible!”

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China’s race for gold

China is at the moment leading the Olympic tables with 6 gold medals. Here’s Al Jazeera’s 101 East on how China manufactures its athletes.

China is home to some of the world’s best athletes. At the Beijing Olympics, the country topped the medals table, winning 100 medals in 25 sports, including 51 golds. As the London 2012 Olympics unfold, it is clear that China’s state-backed sports system is slowly being overhauled. But change might come too late for some athletes. What does China sacrifice in its relentless pursuit of gold?

Planning for the Day After: The Hopes and the Challenges

This is an edited translation from Azmi Bishara’s Arabic facebook page.

1) After a legendary show of resistance in the face of an unprecedented onslaught of savagery, the Syrian revolutionaries can now almost touch their main aim: a change of regime. As I have said elsewhere, a lack of wisdom at this stage could lead to a complete destruction of the very country of Syria.

2) This progress would not have been made without the sacrifices of millions of Syrians, and tens of thousands of the armed rebels. Yet it must be said that some of the members of these armed groups used the opportunity to carry out personal vendettas, and others are clearly infiltrators into the Syrian cause. It is patently clear that foreign operatives have exploited the revolutionaries’ needs for financial and logistical support, not to mention their understandable grievances against the regime, to try and effect the course of events. In this regard, the assassinations of six Syrian scientists (including a missile expert) is a threatening development. The same can be said of the attempts of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani to try and control some of the Kurdish-populated areas of Syria; bear in mind that the Syrian Kurds’ National Council is now well armed, whilst not having taken part in the revolution itself. We cannot assume that the Israelis and the CIA will stand backk and just watch. (Put another way: was the removal of the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence service a mere coincidence?) The recent statements made by Israeli and American statesmen on the question of Syria’s chemical weapons is to be taken seriously: their efforts are already underway. Anybody who doesn’t understand this point, clearly does not understand the way in which world powers and their regional counterparts attempt to achieve their aims, and does not understand the reality of the enmity [between the Israelis and the other countries in the region], nor does that person understand the strategic significance of Syria.

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Boycotting the White City: Good for Tel Avivians

rev·o·lu·tion noun \ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən\

a : a sudden, radical, or complete change
b : a fundamental change in political organization; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed
c : activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation
d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm <the Copernican revolution>
e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology <the computer revolution> <the foreign car revolution>

~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

Almost a year ago a wave of massive popular protests began within the state of Israel. Though my initial criticisms still stands, I’d like to add that over the past year, at least in the south of Tel Aviv, there’s a constant learning about egalitarian politics, co-ops and community projects. People are changing and that can’t be a bad thing. Still, on the Palestinian liberation front there’s little change. The protests have remained Jewish-centered and protesters are still hostile to the mere mention of Arabs (Palestinians are people from another country, of course).

Dr. White City and Mr. Tel Aviv

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The world’s newest tax haven: the Olympics in East London

Why there are no prosecutions at HSBC bank, a tax justice victory in Norway, new Tax Justice Network research reveals the amount of offshore wealth is higher than anybody thought. And we look at the temporary tax haven of the London Olympics.

All of that and more TaxCast, a monthly broadcast produced by the Tax Justice Network and hosted by Naomi Fowler. Each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show features discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

Syrian opposition’s foreign funders — no laughing matter

A message from the Syrian opposition: “We just want to thank our sponsors in the CIA, MI6, Mossad, al-Qaeda, Qatar and the House of Saud for their generous financial support and high tech communications equipment.”

Also check out Jess Hill’s report on Syria’s subversive comedians, and David Kenner on Kafr Anbel’s revolutionary art.

What would Keynes do?

by John Gray

“I can see us as water-spiders, gracefully skimming, as light and reasonable as air, the surface of the stream without any contact at all with the eddies and currents underneath.”

That was how John Maynard Keynes, speaking in 1938 in a talk later published as his brilliant memoir My Early Beliefs, recalled his younger self and his friends in the Bloomsbury Group as they had been in the years before World War I.

The influential Cambridge economist has figured prominently in the anxious debates that have gone on since the crash of 2007-2008. For most of those invoking his name, he was a kind of social engineer, who urged using the power of government to lift the economy out of the devastating depression of the 30s.

That is how Keynes’s disciples view him today. The fashionable cult of austerity, they warn, has forgotten Keynes’s most important insight – slashing government spending when credit is scarce only plunges the economy into deeper recession.

What is needed now, they believe, is what Keynes urged in the 30s – governments must be ready to borrow more, print more money and invest in public works in order to restart growth.

But would Keynes be today what is described as a Keynesian? Would this supremely subtle and sceptical mind still believe that policies he formulated long ago – which worked well in the decades after the World War II – can solve our problems now?

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Farewell Alexander Cockburn (1941-2012)

One of the greatest journalists, polemicists and prose stylists of our age, Alexander Cockburn, passed away yesterday. Cockburn’s courage as a journalist, his facility with words, and his political intuition were unparalleled. He was what Christopher Hitchens always pretended to be. His provocations were delivered with wit and wisdom and, unlike Hitchens, avoided soft targets. He preferred going after powerful interests and the shibboleths of both right and left. Where Hitchens built his reputation by accommodating power, Cockburn’s work was devoted to discommoding it. He was, as Ralph Nader noted, fearless. Pressing on with the Cockburn/Hitchens comparison, Corey Robin notes:

First, Cockburn was a much better observer of people and of politics: in part because he didn’t impose himself on the page the way Hitchens did, he could see particular details (especially of class and of place) that eluded Hitchens. At his best, he got out of the way of his own story and allowed his readers to see things they never would have seen without him.

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