The Tax Justice Network‘s latest TaxCast is out. 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.
In this month’s show: is it the beginning of the end of tax avoidance for multi-national corporations? Some countries fight back. And the Finance Curse – why an oversized finance sector’s bad for an economy. A special extended edition.
We are happy to report that Taxcast has been nominated for the European Podcast Award! You can vote for it here.
29 November 2012 — We are delighted that an overwhelming majority of countries at the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer status. To coincide with this, here is Roger Waters, the front man for Pink Floyd, the greatest rock band ever, speaking earlier in the day, on behalf of the Russell Tribunal, delivering his indictment of Israeli criminality at the UN and making a plea for the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state.
Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus professor of political economy and Dr Edward Skidelsky, lecturer in philosophy tackle the questions: What constitutes the good life? What is the true value of money? Why do we work such long hours merely to acquire greater wealth?
Adam Shatz has a superb piece in the LRB, the best analysis of the changing regional dynamic I’ve read so far. Two passages in particular stand out:
That Netanyahu stopped short of a ground war, and gave in to key demands at the Cairo talks, is an indication not only of Egypt’s growing stature, but of Israel’s weakened position. Its relations with Turkey, once its closest ally in the region and the pillar of its ‘doctrine of the periphery’ (a strategy based on alliances with non-Arab states) have deteriorated with the rise of Erdogan and the AKP. The Jordanian monarchy, the second Arab government to sign a peace treaty with Israel, is facing increasingly radical protests. And though Israel may welcome the fall of Assad, an ally of Hizbullah and Iran, it is worried that a post-Assad government, dominated by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brothers, may be no less hostile to the occupying power in the Golan: the occasional rocket fire from inside Syria in recent days has been a reminder for Israel of how quiet that border was under the Assad family. Israeli leaders lamented for years that theirs was the only democracy in the region. What this season of revolts has revealed is that Israel had a very deep investment in Arab authoritarianism. The unravelling of the old Arab order, when Israel could count on the quiet complicity of Arab big men who satisfied their subjects with flamboyant denunciations of Israeli misdeeds but did little to block them, has been painful for Israel, leaving it feeling lonelier than ever.It is this acute sense of vulnerability, even more than Netanyahu’s desire to bolster his martial credentials before the January elections, that led Israel into war.
The Palestinians understand that they are no longer facing Israel on their own: Israel, not Hamas, is the region’s pariah. The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behindJabotinsky’s ‘iron wall’, deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won’t shield it from the future.
The picture on the left is doing the rounds on the internet labelled as a Palestinian child victim of US-backed Zionist bombing in Gaza. In fact, it seems that it depicts a Syrian child injured by Russian and Iranian-backed Asadist barbarism. No matter – the two are interchangeable today. Both are fighting hyper-violent tyrannies rooted in the Sykes-Picot carve-up of bilad ash-Shaam. And while Zionism bombs Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Asad’s forces continue to bomb Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk camp, Damascus. The film below shows some of the aftermath of this bombing. Below that we reprint an article by novelist Ahdaf Soueif, in which she describes the changed Arab environment meeting the latest aggression on Gaza, and points out that Israel’s action is in part aimed to take “the heat off Bashar al-Assad’s murderous activities in Syria.”
At death you measure
no more than our arms
When we rise
to blow a prayer into your charred lung
we find resplendent
milling about — lapidary
punctuations of our time
(eleven months in all)
Horror turned honey
as buds of new fruit
The great John Mearsheimer has a brilliant piece on the LRB Blog. It is the most comprehensive historical and political analysis of recent developments in Gaza. Two passages in particular bear highlighting. The first one is about Israel’s long-standing strategy:
Israel’s leaders have a two-prong strategy for dealing with their Palestinian problem. First, they rely on the United States to provide diplomatic cover, especially in the United Nations. The key to keeping Washington on board is the Israel lobby, which pressures American leaders to side with Israel against the Palestinians and do hardly anything to stop the colonisation of the Occupied Territories.
The second prong is Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s concept of the ‘Iron Wall’: an approach that in essence calls for beating the Palestinians into submission. Jabotinsky understood that the Palestinians would resist the Zionists’ efforts to colonise their land and subjugate them in the process. Nonetheless, he maintained that the Zionists, and eventually Israel, could punish the Palestinians so severely that they would recognise that further resistance was futile.
Israel has employed this strategy since its founding in 1948, and both Cast Lead and Pillar of Defence are examples of it at work. In other words, Israel’s aim in bombing Gaza is not to topple Hamas or eliminate its rockets, both of which are unrealisable goals. Instead, the ongoing attacks in Gaza are part of a long-term strategy to coerce the Palestinians into giving up their pursuit of self-determination and submitting to Israeli rule in an apartheid state.
Israel has launched yet another attack against the Gaza Strip, striking the densely-populated and besieged territory from the air and the sea, and as usual the United States, Canada and Britain have lined up in support of Zionist terrorism.
Speaking from a system poisoned by the Israel lobby, State Department spokesman Mark Toner says: “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself.” Confusing Zionist settlers for ‘the Jewish people’, confusing perpetrator with victim, and then parroting outmoded ‘war on terror’ propaganda, Canadian foreign minister John Baird vomits the following: “Far too often, the Jewish people find themselves on the front lines in the struggle against terrorism, the great struggle of our generation.” Then Britain’s foreign minister William Hague makes the following immoral and illogical comment: “I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza.”
Two things must be said. First, this round of escalation, like the 2008/2009 slaughter, was started by Israel. It is totally mendacious to pretend otherwise. The Hamas government in Gaza refrained from stopping other groups from firing missiles as a result of Israel’s murder of a disabled man and of a twelve-year-old boy in Gaza. Here is a timeline of events. Second, the settlers of southern Israel do not have the right to live without fear of attack while the original inhabitants of ‘southern Israel’ are herded into refugee camps. Eighty percent of people in Gaza are descendants of refugees ethnically cleansed from their villages and towns by Zionist militias in 1947 and 1948.
Rabi Tawil of the excellent Levantine Dreamhouse blog translates Syrian National Coalition head Shaikh Moaz al-Khatib’s important speech of 11/11/2012, in which he addresses issues of violence, sectarianism, revenge and independence in the Syrian revolution.
The Syrian people are the product of 10,000 years of civilization. The great people of Syria are facing daily, a programmed war of extermination and savage destruction. It can be safely said that there is not a citizen that has not been harmed by this regime. Many parties have exerted effort to pull this regime out of its primitiveness, its savagery and its stupidity but have been put off by its stubbornness and its arrogance. The regime has destroyed all aspects of normal life and turned Syria into ruins; it has worked for fifty years to negate the will of the people and to play on its contradictions using them to tear apart our people.
After a long struggle, numerous patriotic groups have now united as one to stop the massacre to which our people are being subjected daily as the rest of world passively listens and watches. Our primary task is to provide emergent humanitarian relief to our people and to stop the torrent of blood that runs day and night, as we unite our ranks to remove this tyrannical regime with all its symbols and build a righteous society based on justice and the dignity that is bestowed by God on every human being.
I would like to alert you to certain issues, even if I deviate a little from the norms of diplomatic protocol. The first issue is that our revolution is a peaceful revolution from its beginning to its end and it is the regime alone that bears the moral and legal responsibility; for it is the regime that forced our people to resort to armed resistance to defend themselves, their families, their property and their religion. In dozens of cities flowers were carried during demonstrations by thousands of young men and women. They carried flowers and cold water to give to members of the security forces to ask for their right, to simply express themselves. This monstrous regime responded with arrests, jail and torture and then proceeded to destroy the physical, social and economic structure of the country after destroying its intellectual and moral fabric for the past fifty years.