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    Honesty and fair dealing[zoom]
    Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP

    But please no Goldman questions.



    Thickening green line[zoom]
    Chart: CIA

    Bibi's grip on the stolen land might be slipping.



    Straight shooter[zoom]
    Photo: Uri Avnery

    Fascists now run Israel, says ex member of the Knesset.



    "Jesus!"[zoom]
    Photo: BBC

    LRB predicts a short and brutish stint at Nr 10 for Da- vid Cameron.



    Fast talk[zoom]
    Image: ESA

    ESA launches first of satel- lites allowing it to quickly download photos from orbit to mother earth.



    The new flying carpet[zoom]
    Photo: PRossignol/Reuters

    Airbus will be a big early beneficiary of the lifting of the sanctions against Iran. A contract for 114 Airbus aircraft will be signed during Hassan Rohani's upcom- ing visit to Paris. Iran has an urgent need for 400 long range and 100 short range aircraft to revamp its an- cient fleet. Out of country's 67 airports 9 are active. Huge contracts loom on the horizon there too.



    Before polonium therapy[zoom]
    Photo: AP

    Guardian deconstructs the Litvinenko affair.



    Lowering flight[zoom]
    Photo: Eon Productions

    The sinking of Silicon Val- ley.



    He's got a better ticket[zoom]
    Photo: Bossip

    Jews eject Palestinians from a Greek airliner.



    Bambi and The Donald[zoom]
    Photo: AP/AFP

    Two little hearts beating as one.



    "That-a-way!"[zoom]
    Photo: Getty

    Corbyn takes on dividends and boss' pay.



    "Come in, Tim"[zoom]
    Photo: NASA

    This is Ground Control to Major Tim. NASA, having fulfilled its primary mission of supplying lucrative con- tracts to the industrial-mili- tary complex, treats its own astronauts with con- tempt by repeatedly sen- ding them into the cold in faulty suits.



    Perfection and simplicity[zoom]
    Photo: C Ashmore/ROH

    Our Vienna correspondent reports an excellent staging of Tosca at Covent Garden.



    Zen[zoom]
    MHeintze/Caltech/Mit/Ligo

    Gravitational waves have been detected according to rumours emanating from the LIGO experiment.



    Greeting earthlings![zoom]
    Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

    Karl Lagerfeld used "com- plex financial arrangemen- ts" involving offshore acco- unts and jurisdictions to hide €20m from the French fisc, reports L'Express.



    Gone berserk[zoom]
    Photo: Reuters

    Chinese steelmakers, who suffer from overinvest- ment, overproduction, over- capacity, and buckle under colossal debt, and like the Energizer bunny, are inca- pable of stopping, have dri- ven the price of steel to the floor, taking steelmakers throughout the world out of business and steel workers out of work. India and the US have already imposed anti-dumping tariffs, and the EU is poised to do the same. Halting the bunny by force would lead to a rebel- lion. If you were looking for an example of a lunatic asylum on fire, that would be it. Don't expect your sha- res to rally.



    Mug shot[zoom]
    Photo: Time Warner

    The degenerates at Time magazine chose Angela Merkel, the mugger of Gre- ece, as their person of the year. It's time to boycott Time.



    Ginair?[zoom]
    Photo: Reuters

    Open door policy at Jinair



    Divided by the same prophet[zoom]
    Chart: Le Monde

    Sunni and Shi'a Muslims throughout the Middle East.



    "Rubio again"[zoom]
    Photo: union20

    Vying for Adelson's mo- ney, Marco Rubio deno- unces Obama's spying on Bibi, while promoting simi- lar spying of Americans.



    Loud and stupid[zoom]
    Ph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

    The American fascists and the media want the Americans to be afraid of the jihadists. But it is their own gun-slinging compat- riots and stupid politicians they should fear, says The Guardian.



    Likes other people's land[zoom]
    Photo: Wikipedia

    Brazil balks at accepting Dani Dyan as new amba- ssador. Needlessly. He re- presents Israel to a per- fection, you just have to watch his hands. Bibi 'threatens' downgrading re- lationship.



    Bad for arms deals[zoom]
    Photo: Konrad Ksipa

    British likudnikstry to mu- zzle the BDS movement.



    "Zut !"[zoom]
    Photo: Reuters

    Collateral damage from the Tapie affair (see below) may include the IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who was sent to be tried for ne- gligence and may end up serving a year in jail and paying a €15k fine.



    In a Clapper jail[zoom]
    Photo: US Army

    Today is the birthday of Chelsey Manning who was sent to jail for 35 years for whistleblowing. We wish her a happy birthday.



    Supporting National Front[zoom]
    Photo: Ken Levine

    SarahPalin 'writes' a Breit- bart piece in support of Marion Le Pen.



    "Your system hates you"[zoom]
    Photo: Le Monde

    Stiglitz on the extinction of the American white male.



    Gone brown[zoom]
    Photo: Le Monde

    French fascists come ahe- ad in the first round of the regional elections. They follow in the footsteps of the Polish fascists who won parliamentary elections two weeks ago. The fakeness of the EU left is reaping its bitter harvest.



    Better than Jesus[zoom]
    Photo: Amazon

    Amazon for the first time has made more money (52%) from cloud compu- ting than from its core business of online retailing.



    "Merde!"[zoom]
    Ph: Franck Pennant/AFP

    After a 20-year pursuit, the French justice has caught up with the 'businessman' Bernard Tapie, ordering him to immediately cough up ½ billion euros to settle the cost of his swindles. This will ruin him because even after he sells his villas, jet, and the swank townhouse in Paris, he will be still abo- ut €250m short. He will be taking with him into oblivion several of Sarkozy's men. It is gratifying to listen to this song ("To succeed one's life"), which he had re- corded in better days.


    of Dart and Lieberman
    Image: Firstlook.org

    Court rules against Chica- go sheriff Tom Dart and, re- trospectively, against sena- tor Joe Lieberman for browbeating Visa and Mas- terCard into refusing pay- ments to companies (Back- page) and organizations (WikiLeaks) they personal- ly disapproved of. DD is ho- ping for more, and more se- rious, misfortune to befall Lieberman for inciting the US troops in Iraq into vio- lence against the natives.



    No problem[zoom]
    Ph: guardianlibertyvoice

    That sinking feeling in Ca- lifornia's Central Valley whe- re intensive agriculture col- lides heads on with Mother Nature.



    "But is it Christian science?"[zoom]
    Photo: sciencemag.org

    Christian Scientist in US Congress attacks real scie- ntists at NOAA.



    Surely guilty of something[zoom]
    Photo: veonoticia.com

    A Saudi kangaroo court condemns to death a poet for crimes having some- thing to do with God.



    "Hasta la vista, Bibi"[zoom]
    Photo: AFP/Getty

    Judge Garzón issues ar- rest warrant for Bibi and six in his gang. (Link credit: bl)



    Thought criminal[zoom]
    Photo: Reuters

    Bibi's junta heaps scorn on Margot Wallström for ille- gally linking Cast Lead to Bataclan. (Link credit: bl)



    Whose?[zoom]
    Image: Int. Man's Day

    International Men's Day came and went unnoticed.



    A glorious moment[zoom]
    Photo: Knopf Canada

    Champagne corks popped on the 13th as the totalita- rians everywhere rejoiced at the prospect of a carte blanche to further clamp down on civil liberties lan- ding on their collective lap.



    It worked in South Africa[zoom]
    Photo: A. Gharabu/AFP

    Likudniks of all colours are having a fit as EU passes law requiring labeling identi- fying products originating from Palestine, which is illegally occupied by Israel.



    Sweet Manon[zoom]
    Photo: anonymous

    Renata Tebaldi sings the aria In quelle trine morbide from the second act of Ma- non Lescaut. Alberto Ere- de conducts the Orchestra of the Suisse Romande on the recent re-release from Decca.



    nonsense[zoom]
    Photo: The Guardian

    Carson spouts Palin-gra- de imbecility trying to con- nect with the vast idiot fra- ction of the American po- pulace.



    Moore is coming[zoom]
    Photo: michaelmoore.com

    The American totalitarians try to muzzle Michael Moo- re by giving his new film, Where to Invade Next, an absurd "R"(estricted) rating.



    A breath of fresh air[zoom]
    Photo: ESA

    10% of the vapour jetting out of the comet 67P is oxy- gen, says ESA. The surpri- sing figure was provided by Rosina, an instrument on- board Rosetta which mea- sures composition of the gases emanating from the object.



    Worried about the parts[zoom]
    Photo: MGM/Columbia

    "Bond is great", proclaim government-sponsored pos- ters riding on the more fa- miliar "Britain is great" pub- licity slogan. The promo coincides with the release of Sperctre, the latest 007 exploit. Among the touted items there is Aston Mar- tin (for the select few), and an initiative to facilitate job finding for ex-junkies, spe- arheaded by Richard Bran- son. Among all this Briti- shness, it went unnoticed that Aston Martin (which lo- ses £75m a year) is owned by a Kuwaiti-Italian group, and that Sir Richard, tuc- ked in (for health reasons) at the offshore location of Necker Island, pays no Bri- tish taxes.



    Saluting Grappelli[zoom]
    Photo: Thomas Jin

    Itzhak Perlman joins An- dré Prévin and his band in Prévin's tune Look at him go from the album "A Dif- ferent Kind of Blues" recen- tly released by Warner Cla- ssics.



    Twinkle twinkle little star[zoom]
    Photo: Adam Evans

    Apparently sober people are seeing green men ma- king mischief at the star KIC 8462852. Click here and here



    His number is 666[zoom]
    Ph.: A.Soong/Xinhua Press

    Game's up on the 7th, say the luminaries at the eBible Fellowship, who specify this time the world will be cleansed 'by fire'. Do visit tomorrow for a look at the damage assessment.
    Update No significant da- mage has been reported. The luminary's new predic- tion is "Apocalypse later".



    "Listen to me"[zoom]
    Photo: BBC News

    Bibi tries to browbeat the UN over the Iranian deal.



    "C'mon, he's a Muslim"[zoom]
    susanonthesoapbox.com

    Harper shows no interest in the fate of an imprisoned Canadian journalist of Egy- ptian origin.



    Seven decades young[zoom]
    Photo: screen capture

    Jessye Norman turned 70 last week. Our Vienna cor- respondent has sent this video for the occasion. We wish her a happy birthday and many more to come.



    "Look, no inhaling"[zoom]
    Photo: anonymous

    Denial. Excerpt from Guar- dian's piece on the Came- ron debauchery scandal:

    James Delingpole, now a rightwing journalist, told the authors he took the drug with Cameron and another friend at his room at Christ Church college, Oxford. “My drug of choice was weed, and I smoked weed with Dave,” he reportedly said. On Sunday, Delingpole twee- ted:
    @JamesDelingpole  I de- ny everything. We didn't inhale. Or something.



    Third time's the charm[zoom]
    Photo: Fotis Pegas G./AP

    We congratulate Alexis Tsipras on winning popular support three times in a row.



    A selfie too far[zoom]
    By Ford Madox Brown

    Terminal idiocy in North Carolina.



    Zero is still too high[zoom]
    Graph: St Louis Fed/BBC

    Fed confirms Stiglitz was right.


    Not all cargo welcome
    Image: Iceland Review

    Reykjavik City Council has voted to boycott goods and services from Israel quoting country's aggres- sion against the Palestin- ians. (bl)



    "Step forward, Tony"         [zoom]
    Photo: Will Oliver/EPA

    Jeremy Corbyn decisively wins the Labour Party lea- dership contest. We hope he launches a de-Blairifica- tion campaign and helps rout the Canadian Tories in the upcoming elections.



    No thought to cloud these eyes
    Official photo                     [zoom]

    Our Houston correspon- dent sends this report on Palin's 'position' on immi- gration.



    Just among men               [zoom]
    Photo: salon.com

    Our Seattle correspondent sends this blog from Robert Reich.


    Now it's soybeans
    Photo: Donar Reiskoffer

    80% of deforestation is due to agriculture, says FAO.


    Granny power  Photo: US Senate
    Mikulski pokes Bibi in the eye.



    "Load up while you can"  [zoom]
    Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty

    Friends helping the disa- bled in Britain, US, and be- yond.



    Fancy footwork                 [zoom]
    Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP

    Exhibition tango competi- tion was held in Argentina. Natives won. Brief footage.



    Facebook community        [zoom]
    Photo: dr

    A billion people have con- nected to NSA's Facebook Division in a single day for the first time, says the di- vision chief Zuckerberg.



    Look but don't touch          [zoom]
    Photo.: Arnaud Clerget

    Writing for Harper's, Spec- tator's restaurant critic Ta- nya Gold demolishes New York's top eateries, where, so long as you don't take notes, you are grudgingly welcome.



    Gosh!                                 [zoom]
    Photo.: AFP

    Capitalism with Mao's fa- ce in a meltdown.



    "Guess what's inside"      [zoom]
    Photo.: Dominick Reuter/Science

    Supplement with a kick. Discard before taking.



    Eine große Nachtmusik    [zoom]
    Photo.: YouTube

    Our Vienna correspondent sends this footage of a con- cert given on June 27 at Munich's Königsplatz.



    Looking guilty all around  [zoom]
    Photo: chelseamanning.org

    The pro-Manning petition spares her a life of solitary confinement.



    It comes with him             [zoom]
    Photo: BBC News

    Rich baboons have des- cended on London's West End to flaunt their toys and to make noise.



    "So many wires so little time"
    Photo: Steve, WA, DC        [zoom]

    Beavers sabotage the Tra- ns-Siberian Railway by cut- ting signalization wires.



    Looking guilty all around  [zoom]
    Photo: chelseamanning.org

    A military kangaroo court threatens Manning with a life of solitary confinement for transgressing prison regulations lifted verbatim from a Gestapo rulebook.



    With Bibi all the way         [zoom]
    Photo: Reuters

    Schumer's primary alle- giance bubbles to the sur- face ahead of the vote on the Iran deal. He is joined by a compatriot Eliot Engel (D. NY).



    Sweetness and sincerity  [zoom]
    Photo by unknown photographer

    Elisabeth Grümmer sings Pamina accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Georg Solti in a 1956 recording from Urania.



    "Don't mess with Texas"   [zoom]
    Photo: Appel Photography

    A Texas Republican in ne- ed of killing something first thing in the morning shoots himself in the head via an armadillo.



    Herr Kapellmeister            [zoom]
    By Elias Gottlob Haussmann

    Jean-François Paillard Or- chestra plays the 1st move- ment of the 2nd Branden- burg Concerto on a new re- lease from Erato.



    Strong wind                       [zoom]
    Graph: The Economist

    Government data show ra- pid growth of wind power generation in America.



    A tiny bundle                     [zoom]
    Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters

    Jewish settlers burn alive a Palestinian toddler.



    Troika likes it                     [zoom]
    Drawing by Daniel Mermet

    In a heart-warming show of solidarity with the rich, the Troika refuses to im- pose an 8% "solidarity" tax on Greece's well-off, saying 6% is plenty enough. The poor remain subject to 8%. It's better to be rich than poor.



    Facebook community        [zoom]
    Photo: dr

    One-half of the people ho- oked to the internet use Facebook according to Fa- cebook. The other (intelli- gent) half doesn't.



    Bibi looking for Lt Goldin  [zoom]
    Photo: AFP

    Amnesty Int'l says Israel committed war crimes when it mugged Gaza in 2014. No doubt about it, and it wasn't the first time.



    Positively Putin class       [zoom]
    Photo: unknown accomplice

    The American hero, one Walter Palmer, kills Cecil, Zimbabwe's famous lion. This isn't his debut. Leo- pard, buffalo, and rhinoce- ros have fallen victim to this killer. We are pleased to hear, however, that his or- thodontic practice is begin- ning to collapse in the wa- ke of this latest exploit.



    "Jesus!"                            [zoom]
    Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/PA

    After intensive search, Chi- nese authorities have iden- tified selling as the rogue activity behind the dramatic slump in the Chinese stock market. They expressed ho- pe that curtailing it would restore confidence of the investors.



    Love at first sight              [zoom]
    Photo: PA

    The Merry Nazis of Wind- sor. Glen Newey casts an eye on the genetic disease afflicting the royal house.



    Grab the kids and run       [zoom]
    Photo: BBC News

    Two thumbs down as America takes on itself in Louisiana.



    The divine melancholy      [zoom]
    Photo: Wikia

    Carlos do Carmo sings Fado, accompanied by Ma- ria João Pires on a 2012 Universal Music Portugal re- lease.



    Luxe, calme et volupté     [zoom]
    Photo: Ralph Gatti/AFP

    The mayor of the Côte d'Azur town of Vallauris, Michelle Salucki, interve- nes to prevent the closure by the King of Saudi Ara- bia of a public beach adja- cent to his palace prior to his vacationing there. We salute her.


    An intercept too far
    Image: Firstlook.org

    Spooks want your full fron- tal nudity. GAFA, for a cha- nge, balks.



    The hills are alive with virus
    Photo: ESA                        [zoom]

    ESA says it has data sug- gesting abundant viral life on the comet 67/P.
    Erratum  Not ESA, but one Chandra Wickramasinghe of the U. of Buckingham, who is given to seeing evi- dence for alien life every- where he looks.


    "I'm sorry, Helmut, I really am"
    Photo: Warner Bros.

    Robots are beginning to get even.



    Look hard                          [zoom]
    Photo: CNES/Spot

    A non-clinic in the middle of howhere.



    A non-nominal flight          [zoom]
    Photo: NASA

    "We've had a non-nominal flight", said the Space-X fli- ght director after its Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies and new docking adaptors to the Space Station ex- ploded 139 seconds after liftoff. This is probably the end of the Elonian rocket- eering adventure.



    Vengeful sort                     [zoom]
    Photo: Rex Shutterstock

    Patrick Macnee died the other day aged 93 He symbolized an era when television still had some charm.



    Hey, don't look at me         [zoom]
    Photo: Whitney Curtis/Getty

    More email trouble for Hil- lary.



    Him and some grannies    [zoom]
    Photo: AFP

    Against the thinking of the average Brit, Cameron's all for fracking.



    Pueden                              [zoom]
    Oesterle, Hinojosa/Demotix-Corbis

    LRB has more on the two indignadas.



    He knows what's good for you
    Photo: Joshua Doubek/Wikipedia

    In Texas you can take any position on fracking you want, so long as it's for.


    Used to be a lot greener
    Photo: Tomas Castelazo

    Governor Brown's order to reduce water consumption by 25% results in 13.5. The 280 sacred cows holding the "senior" water rights (to consume at will) have been taken on a tour of the slau- ghterhouse. Industrial far- ming has resorted to pum- ping groundwater at the risk of aggravating the drought conditions. Legal action ag- ainst them might take ye- ars to yield results.



    Lost and found                  [zoom]
    Image: ESA

    Philae was located on the surface of the comet 67P the other day, and Saturday night it woke up from mon- ths of hibernation to send radio signals and 40 se- conds of scientific data.


Tragicomic Relief*

Heavy Water

Saturday, 6 February 2016

In Flint, Michigan, where the water supply has been contaminated by lead, it was re- ported that state employees were provided with purified-water coolers last year."

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Caritas

Noble Deeds

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

There, there...Photo: EP

In a moving show of altruism, the Schäuble-Merkel austerity stricken fishermen of the Greek archipelago have been welcoming with open arms the refugees from Syria. There is now a motion to award them a Nobel Peace prize.

DD thinks it's a swell idea and encourages all its Readers to sign a petition to that effect.


Illustration

Stairs At Marseillette

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Watercolour by Trevor Holgate, © 2013


Statistically Significant

Bel Air, Bel House, Bel Garden

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Average number of gallons of water used each day by a typical Los Angeles resi- dent : 107

By a single Bel Air resident : 32,000

This and more in this month's Harper's Index.


Tragicomic Relief

Chessboard Rage

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric issued a fatwa condemning the game of chess, claiming it causes “enmity and hatred.”

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.

And this from our Seattle correspondent,

"New study shows 10% of college graduates think Judge Judy sits on the Supreme Court."

Our Correspondent explains that Judge Judy is a fictional character from a "really cheesy" [American] reality show.


Interview

Ronit Matalon

Thursday, 21 January 2016

A bright spot on a bleak landscapePhoto: Librairie Mollat

"We live today under an apartheid regime. How to call it otherwise if we build roads reserved for the Jews?"
—Ronit Matalon        


Last week the Israeli author Ronit Matalon gave an interview to Le Monde. So long as it counts humans such as Matalon among its citizenry, Israel won't be a total loss.

Translation.

Le Monde: Since the autumn 2015, Israel has been hit by a wave of knife attacks, acts of unpredictable violence conducted by isolated individuals. What does this tell you?

Ronit Matalon: These knife attacks aren't but a beginning. There will be other things. I don't know exactly why these individuals do this but I'm sure it would be a good question to ask to our intelligence services.

I have noticed several things. First, the occupation [of the Palestinian territories] is like a terminal illness, and I'm surprised all this hasn't arrived sooner. Then, I've noticed that denial is a fundamental characteristic of the Israeli society. It's prisoner to a rhetoric on security and victimization. The Israelis don't understand why they do it to them. They see themselves as fair and just people! We are incapable of seeing that if one leaves no hope to a people, one pushes it to such acts. Ehud Barak [Israeli prime minister from 1999 to 2001], of whom I don't have a very positive opinion, had said that if he were an adolescent under the same circumstances, he would have acted in the same manner.

What I'm saying in no sense justifies the kilings and the terror, only that violence leads to violence. Violence contaminates people in such a way that they end up liberating themselves from constraints to become non-democratic societies, societies that kill. Violence cannot be locked in a box, it spreads among the Arabs as it does among us. If you look at the way we define our enemy, we have regressed from "Arab terrorist" to just "Arab", and to "Jew".

LM: Irreconcilable forces are tearing the Israeli society apart. What unites it?

RM: The militants of the extreme left in the West, and even the liberal Jews, have difficulty understanding one thing about the Israeli society: its enormous heterogeneity. It's an assembly of communities which have nothing in common. What makes and cements the collectivity of Israelis is the enemy. The successive governments have understood that fact and manipulated it at will.

It was like this all along the history of zionism but there were all sorts of brakes on the excesses. Today these brakes have disappeared and the present right-wing government is not afraid to say it wants a "Jewish state", ie, non-democratic. There has always been a tension in the definition of the State of Israel, from its beginning, between the Jewish identity and its democratic character. The debate has become anachronistic and the original zionism has won. We live today under apartheid. How to call it otherwise if we build roads reserved for the Jews?

Nothing that happens today was absent at the origin of Israel in 1948. There was a fight for the identity of this country. In its DNA, Israel makes me think of fundamental societies.

LM: Some analysts say that the day Israel signs peace with the Palestinians, a civil war will break out. What do you think of this?

RM: We mustn't be apocalyptic about this. There are enough brakes in the society so that a civil war doesn't become an option. Civil war is an argument used by the right to scare the entire society.

LM: Are you in favour of resuming the peace process or do you believe that it's too late for a two-state solution?

RM: It is in fact possible that the two-state solution has become impossible. "Peace process" has become a slogan. The State of Israel hasn't figured out what it wants to be, neither has the society. The Israelis have decided to believe that they had tried to make peace with the Arabs and that the Arabs didn't want it. I'm not saying that Palestinians didn't have their fingers in the fiasco. Behind the talk about the peace process there is the colonization: while negotiating, successive governments invest billions in the Occupied Territories. Ehud Barak has invested more in the Territories than Benyamin Netanyahu. In order to fix the Israeli-Palestinian problem there should be a true will on both sides.

LM: All around Israel the Arab world is in turmoil. Do you have an impression of living in a country besieged by violence and threat?

RM: That sentiment has always existed in Israel. The Israeli society has never been considered part of the Middle East. We have always remained a foreign body in the region. Personally, I would have wished that Israel ally itself with the democratic forces among our neighbours rather than encouraging the rise the Islamic fundamentalism, as it did in the 80s favouring Hamas to oppose the PLO. I would have preferred to have neighbourly relationships. It was obviously a fantasy and no one thinks in those terms today. The State of Israel is above all busy fanning the flames of conflicts which surround it or searching how to exploit them for its own profit. It doesn't consider its neighbours as worthy of trust.

LM: What would the ideal world be like?

RM: In an ideal world we would be living with the Palestinians in a single democratic state with equal laws for all. But we don't live in an ideal world and the world which is taking shape is a non-democratic State in which the only way to live is to shed blood.

If a single bi-national and democratic state is my ideal, I respect the will of the people. And it is true that the Palestinian people aspire to build their own country. To allow for a single state in a hundred years, we must transit by a stage where two states co-exist.

LM: Do you feel hopelessness, being threatened?

RM: My critique and my hopelessness are a sign of my belonging and my loyalty to the tradition of critical thinking peculiar to Judaism. But what troubles me most is the fact that in the last two years I have begun being afraid to express my ideas. What is happening within the Israeli society fills me with fear more than than the knives. More than knife stabs I fear that we are losing our democracy. And I'm not alone. We begin to fear each other.

9 January 2016

Christophe Ayad, Editor-in-Chief (International)


Debit Suisse

Davos 2016

Monday, 18 January 2016

"We shall do our best to keep their heads down, sir"Photo: WEF

      Expecting business as usual, we recycle here our 2014 and 2015 Davos essays.

The owners of the world converged on Davos for their annual shindig. On the agen- da, how to tighten the grip, and mutual adoration. Ticket prices have been set to discourage the undesirables. A front-row seat goes for €389k, while a no-press-allowed one (you mustn't know too much about what's going on behind the closed door) for a mere €115k*.

Once you've got the ticket, count on spending extra $15k to $200k, depending on the lavishness of your entertainment, and whether you come on a private jet or rough it in business class.

Some oligarchs prefer to send minions rather than participate in person. Warren Buffett, 85, who has never set his foot in Davos, opted for Omahaw, NE, to profit from a mo- ment of peace to make a few extra billion, a handy thing to have in your pocket when the Almighty finally calls.

Other skeptics include the French, always the spoilsports, only 75 (as of 2015) of whom are expected to mingle among the 2,500 participants. Boris Johnson, out in Davos pimping London to the Malaysians, for his part, described the Forum as "a constellation of egos involved in orgies of adulation".

Bankers will be aplenty, but not the tech heavyweights from Silicon Valley, of whom only Tim Cook from Apple and Eric Schmidt from Google will be present.

One of the themes on the agenda will be inequality (see Statistically Significant, below), which is curious, given the organizers' keen soliciting of the fiscal 'optimization' industry.

Gentlemen have been encouraged to come with ladies in order to 'diversify the invitee list', which, to the delight of the local retail community, heralds the arrival of a second Christmas in so many months.

What a jolly good show.


*) 2015 prices.


Statistically Significant

1 > 99

Sunday, 17 January 2016

A glorious statistic came today out of Oxfam: the richest one percent now own more than the remaining ninety-nine. Champagne corks, no doubt, will be popping at the opening shindig at the World "Economic" Forum in Davos.

The Guardian and the BBC have both reported the figure on their front pages, while the New York Times hid it in a dark corner of the "Europe" page, requiring several clicks to get to, assuming you know where to go. The name of Oxfam appears seven times in the NYT piece, while that of the American public relations firm Edelman, bizarrely, 11 times.

Shame all around.


Tragicomic Relief

Discernment

Saturday, 9 January 2016

A poll of Americans found Trump tied with Pope Francis for second place as the most admired man.

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Piketty

On What Ails Europe And How To Fix It

Monday, 4 January 2016

"You must change everything"Photo: Le Monde

Writing in Le Monde, Thomas Piketty* notes the steep increase in the popularity of the extreme right in France and elsewhere in Europe. In France in the last few years, he says, it has advanced from 15% of the vote to 30, and reached 40% in some re- gions.

How did it come about, he asks.

Several factors conspired: the raise in unemployment and xenophobia, disappointment with the ruling left and the feeling that everything has been tried and failed; that something completely new must be tried now. Europe, he says, also pays for the consequences of the disastrous handling of the financial crisis which came from America in 2008,

which Europe, through its own fault, has transformed into a permanent condition with the help of incompetent policies and institutions: a single cur- rency with 19 different public debts, 19 different interest rates on which mar- kets can freely speculate, 19 interest rates on corporations in free competition one against the other without a common social and educational platform. This will never work.

Only a deep democratic and social reform of the Eurozone in the service of growth and employment will allow it to confront the hate and nationalist tendencies which threaten Europe today. To begin with, European leaders—notably French and German—must recognize their errors. One can debate ad infinitum all sorts of reforms, big and small, to introduce in different countries of the zone: shop opening hours, bus lines, labour markets, pensions, etc., some useful, other less.

But it is not these problems that explain the sudden fall in GDP in the Eurozone between 2011 and 2013, a period during which recovery continued** in the United States. There is absolutely no doubt that the recovery was stifled by an attempt to reduce deficits too quickly, with a big rise in taxes, particularly in France.

Blind application of budgetary rules is to blame for the fact that the zone hasn't in 2015 recovered its 2007 GDP.

What can be done immediately?

First, debts over 60% of a GDP should be put in a common fund, with a mora- torium on repayment until each country finds a path to a robust growth with respect to 2007. All precedent shows that beyond a certain threshold, it doesn't make sense to be repaying debt, even if the delay takes decades. Better to lighten the burden in order to invest in growth, including from the point of view of the creditors.

Such a course of action would require a new democratic governance in order to prevent similar disasters occurring in the future. Specifically, the involve- ment of taxpayers and national budgets requires putting in place of a Parlia- ment of the Eurozone composed of deputies from national parliaments in pro- portion to the population of each country.

The chamber must enact a common tax on the societies, short of which fiscal dumping and LuxLeaks-type scandals will never cease. One could thus finance a plan of investment in infrastructure and universities. Illustrative example: the Erasmus project is ridiculously underfinanced (€2bn per year vs. €200bn designated to interest payments on the Eurozone debt). This at the time when massive investment must go to the innovation and the youth. Europe holds all the trump cards to enable it to offer world's best social model. Let's stop squandering our chances!

The future level of public deficit will have to be decided in this new framework. Some people in Germany will be afraid to find themselves in the minority in such a Parliament, and will try to hang on to the logic of automatic budgetary criteria. But it's the bypassing of the democracy by the rigid rules that brought us to the edge of the precipice and it is time to break away from this logic. If France, Italy, and Spain (about 50% of Eurozone's population and GDP, against 25% for Germany) arrive at a specific proposition, a compromise will be found. And if Germany stubbornly refuses, which is little probable, then the anti-euro arguments will be very difficult to oppose.

Before considering Plan B, that of the extreme right, which the extreme left is more and more tempted to brandish, let's begin by giving the true Plan A an honest chance.

Challenge to Piketty's ideas will come from Schäuble, bent on preserving Germany's dominant position within the EU, and from the Americans, bent on dismembering Europe according to the "divide and conquer" principle. Both attempts should be tor- pedoed.


*) Our 2014 Person of the Year
**) Joseph Stiglitz says the American recovery is an illusion.


Person Of The Year

Naomi Klein

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Soft voice, urgent messagePhoto: Emmanuelle Marchadour

Our person of the year 2015 is Naomi Klein, whose humanity should serve as an example to all.


Tragicomic Relief

Vox Populi Vox Dei

Saturday, 26 December 2015

A poll found that 30 percent of Republican primary voters support bombing Agrabah, the fictional city from Disney’s Aladdin.

And,

The town council of Woodland, North Carolina, rejected a plan to build a solar farm after residents expressed fears that the panels would “suck up all the energy from the sun,”

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Music Of The Spheres

The 2015 Winter Solstice

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A dark moment with a bright outlookPhoto: NASA

Winter solstice in Northern Hemisphere comes on Tuesday, 22 December, at 04:48 UTC, marking the shortest day of the year. Daily Detox, which advocates moving New Year's Day from its present location—the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord—to Winter Solstice, wishes all its Readers a happy New Year.


Tragicomic Relief

Nur für Weiße

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The US Supreme Court debated striking down an affirmative-action admissions policy at the University of Texas. “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?” asked Chief Justice John Roberts.

We ask what unique perspective does any student bring to a physics class?

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Illustration

Twenty-First Century

Monday, 14 December 2015

Presentation of the fat chicken [zoom]

The tension!

Photo: Oded Balilty/AP/Le Monde


Sacrifice

Our Children's Future

Thursday, 10 December 2015

"Look, it's rough for us but her life will be so much better"Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Tastefully, in the name of his newborn daughter, Zuckerberg has set up a charity (an LLC, actually) into which he plans eventually to upload all his Facebook shares in order to endow it with a necessary capital to advance the cause of the common man.

That's nice of him.

But the uncharitable minds (anyone endowed with a brain) think otherwise. One of them is Amia Srinivasan, who has penned this blog at LRB.

Among all the nonsense contained in Zuck's 'letter', there is this: "While headlines often focus on what’s wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking."

Having just posted an item on Stiglitz explaining how poverty and inequality are killing the middle class American white male (see the Aperçu column, to the left), we ask Zuck to shut up and to ponder for a moment that he made his billions by snooping in people's private lives and selling the information to marketers. The same goes for allowing government spies to trawl the data in return for favours, earning his outfit a "wholly owned subsidiary of the NSA" denomination.

We call on our Readers to boycott Facebook.


Tragicomic Relief

The Bothersome Bit

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

In San Bernardino, California, a married couple armed with semi-automatic rifles and pistols attacked the holiday party of a social-services center for the disabled, killing 14 people and injuring 21 others. “None of the fourteen who perished had a chance,” said one of the 40 to 50 doctors who treated the victims. “That’s what really bothers me.”

Other than that, we suppose, it would have been fine.

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Piketty

From Everyone According To His Mischief

Monday, 7 December 2015

"You're in the 100-tonne bracket"Photo: Le Monde

The cost of keeping up with the damage already inflicted on the planet by the climate change runs to €150bn per year. The question is who should pay for it and how much.

Thomas Piketty* happens to be there when you need him. Writing in the November 28 edition of Le Monde he had this to say (our translation).

There is a risk that being distracted by the terrorist attacks, Western politicians will have their minds elsewhere and won't put out the effort to make the Paris climate talks a success. It will have dramatic consequences for the planet.

It is high time the rich countries take measure of their historic responsibilities vis-à-vis climate change and the damage which they have already inflicted on the poor ones. The tensions related to the climate and the energy are pregnant with dangers to the world peace. It is not by allowing terrorists to impose their agenda that one prepare for the future.

What is the status quo of the talks? When it comes to the emission reduction objectives proposed so far, the result are invisible. We are on a trajectory to a warming in excess of 3 degrees, and probably more, with potentially catastro- phic consequences, particularly for Africa and South and South-East Asia, mainly due to rising sea levels. If the rich countries are incapable of raising the above mentioned sum (barely 0.2% of the global GDP), it is fanciful trying to convince the poor and emerging countries to make additional effort to reduce their future emissions. The sum promised so far is below €10bn. It is so much more upsetting since it doesn't concern aid, simply mending part of the old damage and the one being done now.

The last point is important because one hears in Europe and the United States that China has become world's biggest polluter so it's now its turn, and that of other emerging economies, to make the effort.

Doing this is to forget several things. First, the volumes of allowed emissions should be linked to the size of population of each country. With its 1.4 billion of inhabitants, China is three times bigger than Europe (500m), and more than four times the size of North America (350m). Moreover, the low European emissions are explained by the massive outsourcing, mainly to China, of the polluting production of industrial and electronic goods which we consume with such gusto. When this is factored in, European emissions raise by 40%, and the North American by 13%, while the Chinese ones drop by 25%. It is only fair to analyze the distribution of emissions by the country of the final consum- ption, and not by the country of production.

The Chinese emit the equivalent of 6 tonnes of CO2 per year per inhabitant (about the world average), against 13 tonnes for the Europeans, and 22 tonnes for the North Americans. The problem then isn't only that we have been polluting for much longer than the rest of the world but that we (in EU) usurp to ourselves the right to do it twice, and the Americans nearly 4 times, as robu- stly as the average earthling.

In order to avoid confrontation between countries it is necessary to consider the immense inequalities in domestic rates of energy consumption, direct and indirect, across the goods and services consumed. The level of emissions strongly correlates with income, with elasticity close to one.

Having assembled the data related to the direct and indirect emissions by country, and those related to consumption and incomes for every country, Lucas Chancel and I have analysed the evolution and distribution of global emissions at the individual level for the last 15 years. (This study is available here. Click on Carbon and Inequality: from Kyoto to Paris.)

The conclusions one derives are clear. With the raise of the emerging econo- mies, there are now big polluters on all continents. And so it is right that all countries pitch in to the global adaptation fund. But the rich countries still make up the great majority of the biggest polluters and cannot ask China to foot more than its fair share.

Specifically, some 7 billion inhabitants of the planet emit on average the equi- valent of 6 tonnes of CO2 per year per head. The least polluting 50%, ie, 3.5 billion, situated mainly in Africa, South and South-East Asia (the zones most affected by the warming) emit less than 2 tonnes per head and are responsible for barely 15% of the total emissions. On the other end of the scale, the biggest 1% of the polluters, ie, 70m people, emit on average 100 tonnes of CO2 per head, so much that they alone put out 15% of the the total emissions, in other words, so much as the bottom 50% of the world population. There are 50 times fewer of them but since they emit 50 times more, the two effects cancel each other. But it is the 50% at the bottom who will pay for the consequences of the climate change, in terms of raising water levels and temperatures. Those 2 billion people emit 2 tonnes of CO2 per head but will pay for those who emit 100.

And where do you find the most polluting 1%? According to our findings, 57% of them live in North America, 16% in Europe, and 5% in China, less than in Russia and the Middle-East combined, at 6%. It seems to us that this could provide a key to the allocation of the burden of the clean-up. North America must shed €85bn (0.5% of its GDP) and Europe €24bn (0.2%). This conclusion surely will displease Donald Trump and others. We invite them to verify our numbers and improve on them. All our data and mathematical apparatus are listed here. Again, click on Carbon and Inequality: from Kyoto to Paris. We have tested several scenarios of allocation and individual emissions, without observing substantial changes in the final result.

One can imagine other modes of dividing the pain, for example by laying the burden on the 10% world's most polluting (700 million people emitting 27 tonnes on average), who are responsible for 45% of the total emissions, or three times more than the emissions of the bottom 50%. In that case 40% of the burden will fall on North America, 19% on Europe, and 10% on China.

That which is sure is that it is time to think about the allocation of the burden according to level of emissions. One cannot ask for the same effort from people emitting 2 tonnes per year as from those emitting 100, and is the big fault in the methods currently in use.

Some will object that such scheme of allocation will never be accepted by the rich countries, particularly the United States. And so the solutions for the adaptation to the climate change for the coming years which will be adopted in Paris will be without a doubt very much less ambitious and transparent. But the solutions must be found: nothing will happen if the rich world doesn't open its wallet. The consequences of the warming will make themselves felt more and more strongly, also in the United States.

One way or the other, it's urgent to agree on a shared diagnosis of the problem and on the allocation of pain, a common language allowing to envisage a peaceful resolution of this global challenge without precedent.

DD agrees with Thomas Piketty. With one small exception: not all 'western' pollution should be repatriated to the countries which outsource production to China but, say, 50%, for China too profits from the mischief.


*) Our 2014 Person of the Year


Tragicomic Relief

Health Matters

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Japan announced that it would proceed with plans to capture and kill 333 minke wha- les to conduct studies on the creatures’ health and migration.

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Detox

Turkish Bath

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Fancy turnsChart: BBC

Truth, say experienced persons, is the first casualty of war.

And so it is in the tiff between Turkey and Russia over the Su-24 jet which the former downed in the tribal border region with Syria.

What it claimed to be a response to a violation by a Russian jet of its airspace was in all probability an opportunistic stab in the back by the Turks who knew the Russians would be flying in the area chasing Turkmen rebels on behalf of Bashar al-Assad. The Turkish claim that it had several times warned the Russian pilot he was invading the Turkish airspace doesn't hold water since there was no time to issue 'several' warnings during the seconds the Russian was overflying its territory.

The claim that the Turkish F-16 pilot had ordered the Russian to 'turn south' to exit is fanciful since the Russian was already on a most direct heading for exit. In all likely- hood it was a cheap propaganda shot based on everybody's knowledge that Syria lies to the south of Turkey, which is true in general but not in this case. Here, the shortest path to Syria was to the west (see map.)

The F-16 story is also doubtful. The Russian in all probability was downed by a ground to air missile. If it were an F-16, as claimed by the Turks, the action would have had to take place in the Syrian airspace since there is no room over the 2.4 km wide tongue of the Turkish territory to develop such an action. But there were no reports of any dogfighing taking place in the area.

The Americans, who could have passed to the Turks the information about the Soviet whereabouts, deny receiving the informed from the Russians, contrary to a suggestion from Putin.

We had initially calculated that the Su-24 was in Turkey for 10 seconds based on a 500 knot cruising speed of the bomber. But later reports indicated the Russian was in the Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. This points to his flying at about 300 kts, which is close to the minimum speed for that machine at 6,000 feet. Later, photos came out to reveal he was indeed flying with the fully-extended wings, indicating a low-subsonic flight regime, consistent with trying to pick out the Turkmens on whom to drop ordnan- ce, and not consistent with trying to escape pursuit of an F-16. At his speed the Su was a sitting duck for a ground-to-air missile.

The Soviet claim that its jet was carefully trying to avoid entering the Turkish airspace also sounds implausible. No hero of the Soviet Union would ever tiptoe around a tiny piece of Turkish territory when he could rip right through it.


Tragicomic Relief

Hidden Perfection

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Audience members at Zimbabwe’s fourth annual Mister Ugly competition protested after the reigning champion was dethroned by a 42-year-old man with several missing teeth. “He is ugly,” said a rival, “only when he opens his mouth.”

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Essential Reading

A Medium Apart

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The real McCoyImage: Mediapart

Under the "Essential Reading" banner we usually present an article which we think important to read. This time we present a publication.

It is called Mediapart, see also Wikipedia.

It is published online in French, English, and Spanish. €9 gets you a monthly subscri- ption. We highly recommend it.

Its investigations had brought to daylight two political affairs which rocked the French government, and made its name. The first was the Bettencourt affair, the second Cahuzac. The latter engendered such wrath among the Cahuzac loyalists that they decided to ruin it by imposing back taxes to the tune of €4.1m, a hefty sum to a start- up with twenty-some staff. The figure corresponded to the amount of cash Mediapart held in the bank at the time. LRB has more on this.

Implicated in the Bettencourt affair, Sarkozy is licking his wounds to this day.


Tragicomic Relief

Cuppa?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Two British police officers made tea for an elderly couple who had called an emer- gency hotline because they were lonely.

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Statistically Significant

Security Is Job One

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Portion of Americans who would support building a wall along the border with Canada: 2/5

This and more in this month's Harper's Index.


Debit Suisse

The Onshore Offshore

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A friendly and discreet jurisdictionPhoto: foxnews.com

Not long ago Obama looked poised to clamp down on tax havens. He sent expedi- tionary forces to Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, and farther downrange to fight for 'what was right'. On the home front, Congress was making promising noises about eradicating tax cheating by means of offshore 'jurisdictions'. DD murmured approvingly.

Too early.

It now emerges that Uncle Sam was not so much stomping out tax evasion as protec- ting its own offshore industry by eliminating foreign competition. It was a token of ap- preciation to a sector which (like a good neighbour) was there come election time.

The 2015 Tax Justice Network's Financial Secrecy Index ranks the US number three behind Switzerland and Hong Kong as a location where to do business without feeling overstressed by taxes. Not bad by any measure and absolutely brilliant for an enemy of tax evasion.

The UK takes the relatively modest 15th place in the Index. But it's an optical illusion. Britain actually takes pride of place when Her Majesty's Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies (such as Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, and the British Virgin Islands) are counted in, as they must be.

"What doesn't kill you", says the philosopher, "makes you stronger." We hasten to add that what doesn't try to kill you makes you stronger even faster.


Tragicomic Relief

The World Of Possibility

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Chinese state media reported the establishment of a new spy hotline and issued a note on social media encouraging citizens to report those who “exaggerate the advan- tages of foreign countries.” “Anyone can be a spy,” a hotline officer said. “And anyone can also not be a spy.”

This wisdom and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


BDS

Lex Hebraica

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Worse than the AyatollahsPhoto: Konrad K/Sipa

Israel's commercial interests trump freedom of speech in the land where it was invented.

On August 4, France's supreme court (La Cour de cassation) declared illegal all calls to boycott Israel and imposed stiff penalty on supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

DD is seething and calls for kicking ass and taking names.

One name avails itself immediately, that of Michèle Alliot-Marie, Israel's sycophant so perfect she even outclasses Hillary Clinton, whose own nose spends most of the time in Bibi's rectum. Appointed France's justice minister by Nicolas Sarkozy (himself a crypto-likudnik), Alliot-Marie issued a memo as early as 2010 instructing prosecutors to respond with 'firmness' to calls to boycott Israeli products. No doubt she is happy today to see the high court make it a law.

Honest people, such as Glenn Greenwald, object. That's great. But given the power of the Zionist mafia, which in this case had penetrated the French supreme court, much more will have to be thrown into the scrape to win, including affirmative action laws addressing the problem of over-representation of minorities on public bodies. The United States Senate comes to mind as a particularly egregious case.

We invite the Reader to find out on the account of whom.


Essential Reading

Pax Hebraica

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The other side has got knivesPhoto: Le Monde

The game is over for the Palestinians, seems to be Nathan Thrall's message in the current issue of LRB. We wish we had something to contradict him.


Tragicomic Relief

Fair Dinkum Mite

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A communications lecturer at Victoria University in Melbourne claimed that alcohol-induced slurring caused the Australian accent. “Drunken Aussie-speak continues to be taught,” he wrote, “to children."

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Bungling

Go Where The Money Is

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

"Why do it to me?"Photo: BBC News

"Go where the money is", said the Machiavellian aide-de-camp to a treasurer try- ing to put something into state's empty coffers.
"And where is it?", pressed the minister.
"Why, with the poor, of course!"

But David Cameron hardly needs this advice. It is part of his genome. So, while some of the best economists think otherwise, that doesn't cloud prime minister's crystal- clear vision, nor weaken his resolve.

A measure put forward by Cameron before the Commons calls for drastic cuts to tax credits for Britain's poorest stratum. It is presented by the government as an induce- ment to 'look for work'.

Fiercest opposition to the proposal came from an unexpected corner; the comrades at the House of Lords who issued a strongly-worded condemnation. Could it have been the latent instinct to take care of ones peasants, or did this bonhomie bubbled up from the champagne which is staple beverage among the peers? Hard to say.

Be it as it may, the PM can either retaliate, which would be easy, suffice loading up the Lords with a batch of loyalists, or back off. If he wants to win the next elections, he should back off. Otherwise the initiative will create several hundred thousand ready Corbyn voters, and the Scottish Labour has already promised to reverse the cut if re- turned to power.


An Die Freude

A Hero's Welcome

Sunday, 1 November 2015

RighteousImage: European Parliament

While America has dusted off a torture chamber and put the torturers on standby, the European Parliament issues a warm endorsement and welcome to Edward Snowden, calling on all European nations to extend to him welcome and maximum protection from extradition and rendition. Excerpt from the European Parliament News:

By 285 votes to 281, MEPs decided to call on EU member states to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and conse- quently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender".

We doubt it will deter the American totalitarians from trying to lay hand on Snowden, but the resolution gives him protection across all of Europe and thus a free passage to Switzerland, which had previously offered him political asylum.

In a tweet from Russia, delighted Snowden (our 2013 Person of the Year) called the resolution "extraordinary".


Choices '16

Between Gangrene And Syphilis

Monday, 26 October 2015

"Look, our financial future is somewhere up there"Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

The November issue of Harper's opens with Lewis Lapham's essay subtitled The story, so far, of the 2016 election. It commences thusly,

Between democracy and concentrated wealth the country throughout most of its history has preferred the latter to the former, the body politic asking only that the big money make a credible show of caring for something other than itself. For the past thirty-five years the modest requirement has been met with prolonged and costly stagings of a presidential-election campaign invariably said to be, as it was this past summer by Jeb Bush, “everybody’s test, and wide open — exactly as a contest for president should be.”

It is neither wide open nor, strictly speaking, a contest. It is a ritual re- enactment of the legend of democracy as fairground spectacle: the proving that our flag is still there with star-spangled photo ops and bombast bursting in air, the candidates so well contrived that they can be presented as game-show contestants, mounted on selfie sticks until they come to judgment on Election Day before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they are produced. The contrivances don’t come cheap. Luxury items made to the order and under the supervision of concentrated wealth, they can be counted upon, if and when elected, to stand, foursquare and true blue, for the freedom of money, moralizing and vigilant against the freedoms of movement and thought. Names of candidates inclined to think or act otherwise won’t appear on the November ballot.

Subscribers to Harper's can read the entire essay online here. For those with no sub- scription, we have a dispensation from Harper's to individually send a few copies of the essay upon request.


Tragicomic Relief

Miracle Of The Microfiches

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Los Angeles Police Department was found to have achieved a 7 percent reduc- tion in violent crime by classifying serious assaults as minor offenses.

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Choices '16

Untruthful Hyperboles

Saturday, 17 October 2015

"Have I got a deal for you!"Photo: Michael Vadon/Wikipedia

Writing in LRB, Deborah Friedell casts her funny eye on Donald Trump. Not to be missed.


Tragicomic Relief

The Army Of One

Friday, 16 October 2015

US officials announced the end of a $500 million campaign to train Syrian fighters to combat the Islamic State after a top general told the Senate Armed Services Com- mittee in September that the unit, which was expected to include some 5,400 troops, had fewer than a dozen fighters. “We’re talking four or five,” he said.”

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Free Trade

For Fun And Profit

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A marriage not made in heavenImage: Monsieur Fou/Wikipedia

The European con didn't quite work out for Uncle Sam, so he turned his attention to Asia Pacific, and, judging by the early returns from the field, the natives are nibbling. Good for Uncle Sam, and maybe God will help the natives.

The agreement calls itself the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), otherwise it's the sa- me swindle they tried to pull off on the EU.

Describing the arrangement, The Guardian concludes thusly,

The TPP deal announced on Monday also sets minimum standards on issues ranging from workers’ rights to environmental protection. It also sets up dis- pute settlement guidelines between governments and foreign investors separa- te from national courts.

What could 'minimum standards' on workers' rights and environmental protection pos- sibly mean? What is a dispute settlement mechanism 'separate' from national courts? The answer to the first question is no workers' rights and no environmental protection. Could the answer to the second be, for example, international courts?

It could but it isn't. Instead it's a kangaroo court made up of corporate lawyers and lobbyists that always rules in favour of the multinationals. So, if Mexico (to give an example) were so careless as to ban the pesticide Roundup, the tribunal would award Monsanto compensation for the future loss of income in Mexico. All would be per- fectly legal under the terms of the deal, national sovereignty taking a second place to the interests of Monsanto.

A mean-spirited speculation? Not at all. Australia and Uruguay got attacked by Phillip Morris for trying to bring about anti-tobacco policies; Egypt got attacked by Veolia for setting minima on salaries for petroleum workers; Ecuador, which won in local courts, got fined billions by a private tribunal for protesting against the pollution left by Chevron behind drilling operations.

Under the terms of the treaty, multinationals have the right to attack any public body and force it to pay colossal sums in compensation for what they perceive as trans- gressions against their profits. This includes future profits, as calculated by them- selves.

While the Europeans have woken up, the Australasians are still sleepwalking. They should wake up because the sovereignty of their people is being traded off for corpora- te profits in secret negotiations.

The story is not finished in Europe; the Yankees are coming back under a new flag— the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Who could be against trade and investment? But, if this weekend's protests on the streets of Berlin and elsewhere are a hint, Uncle Sam has a ready fight on its hands and had better prepare for a second black eye.


Aesthetics

The Euler Identity

Saturday, 10 October 2015

What hideth behind?Image: Daily Detox

Those of our Readers who had the opportunity (or misfortune) to run into complex analysis are familiar with the Euler identity, which, in a simple equality, unifies five fun- damental quantities of mathematics, if not of Nature: zero, one, the complex number i, the base of the natural logarithm e, and the number pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

The numbers e and pi are both irrational (impossible to express as a ratio of two integers) and transcendental (never ending series of digits with no sequences that re- peat themselves). In this, they are the essence of unruliness, of defiant independen- ce, and insubordination. The identity itself is like a magician's hat into which you throw scrambled eggs (e), a rabbit (pi), two marbles (0 and 1), and an invisible dice (i), shake it, and looking inside you discover it's empty.

Its unification of the five fundamental constants makes it perhaps the most elegant and intriguing identity in all of mathematics. But, while its elegance delights the mind, it also troubles it. For what as-yet undiscovered truth might underlay this harmony? Of what might it be but a symptom?


Tragicomic Relief

The Rich Tapestry Of Life

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

In response to the killings [at the Umpqua Community College], President Barack Obama said that Americans have “become numb” to mass shootings, and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told reporters there are “all sorts of things that happen in life.”

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Essential Viewing

Stiglitz Là-bas

Saturday, 3 October 2015

"Beware of Germans bearing sanctions"Photo: là-bas si j'y suis

Interviewed by an independent French webcaster là-bas si j'y suis, Joseph Stigitz gives advice to François Hollande on how to reduce unemployment, and explains why Germany (together with Wall Street) won't let it happen. He also explains that Greece was thrown to its knees by the same cabal as a demo to France.

The Schäuble/Merkel ticket seems bent on acquiring a maximum of ill will among its European partners.

[Read Stiglitz's interview with Le Monde.]


Tragicomic Relief

Asking For It

Thursday, 1 October 2015

In Florida, a man was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy after pointing a stapler at the officer. Polk County sheriff Grady Judd defended the deputy’s actions. “We don’t choose to shoot people,” he said. “People choose for us to shoot them.”

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Review

Everest

Monday, 28 September 2015

And never let filmmaking get in the way of cheesePhoto: Universal Pictures

Everest is an error-based film about people who shouldn't have been there because it was there.

This becomes clear the moment one of the Bergführers feels compelled to spring on the unsuspecting sports the awkward truth that there wasn't much to breathe over there. The film duly culminates in a series of fiascoes arising from the original sin of not grasping that reality, and from the ignorance of what the weather can do to you.

It follows the tried-and-true Hollywood formula for a disaster flick, with an added twist that the scenario recounts the antics of a real American for-profit safari to bag Cecil the summit. (The final body count reveals to the contrary that it was the summit who did most of the bagging.)

Rob, one of the guides (played by Jason Clarke) is sympathetic and more than convin- cing. Scott, the other guide, is not far behind. The well-meaning, Seattle-type soccer mom of the base camp manager, on the other hand, is irritating, as is the ubiquitous Keira Knightley. The long-winded chattering on the walkie-talkies is beyond irritating to anyone familiar with a radio battery giving up the ghost when you most need it.

Josh Brolin (playing Beck Weathers) inspires a mild level of anxiety that he might pull out a revolver to settle some grievance at Camp 4, but in the end he only hurls the sum of $50k he dished out for the trip in Rob's face at the Base Camp.

The resurrection from the dead of a siege-style assault on a mountain by the American tour operators is an ugly development at the time when no Euro-climber worthy of his pterodactyl would be caught dead partaking in such a group swing. But that's no problem to the makers of Everest still in awe of the Hillary and Tenzing technique.

The imagery looks muddy. This has the effect of imparting gloom on an otherwise spe- ctacular scenery. Where is Technicolor when you need it?

A thumb-and-a-half down. We wonder what the devil made this year's Venice Film Festival take it as an opener.

Update  Jon Krakauer, on whose book Everest is based, says the film is 'total bull'.

Update  We applaud a move by Nepal to crack down on inexperienced and unfit peo- ple seeking 'Everest glory'.


High Spanks

Prime Minister's Questions

Friday, 25 September 2015

"Would the Prime Minister please comment on the pig's head?"Photo: The Spectator

One great thing about the scandals within the British ruling class is that they tend to elicit fun writing from funny people, such as James Delingpole (here), or Nick Ri- chardson, past head of the Piers Gaveston Society at the centre of the story, here.

Two things stand out in the latter piece. Number one casts light on the Society, and it's really all that there is to know about it, "I asked several female friends if I should be asking women to join the ‘society’ and they all said no."

Number two relates to Cameron, "Fucking a pig’s head is not what makes David Ca- meron a rubbish prime minister."


Tragicomic Relief

Walking While Black

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Police officers in Stockton, California, tackled, arrested, and charged with trespass- ing a black teenager who was walking in a bus lane."

This and more in this week's Review from Harper's.


Class Warfare

The Wrong School Tie

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Of sortsImage: The Economist

The Economist's writers, wrote once The Observer, "rarely see a political or eco- nomic problem that cannot be solved by the trusted three-card trick of privatisation, de- regulation and liberalisation."

We agree, and it is no wonder that the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party is not to their liking—not one of these trump cards can be found in his deck.

But TE has not always been so simplistic.

When, to the cheers and gloating from America, the Soviet Empire was crumbling, TE alone among the Western press pointed out its few positive aspects. It was a tou- ching note from a card-carrying defender of capitalistic virtues and a sign it had a soul. This fairness and the refusal to join the madding crowd was what made TE a worthy read.

Those days are long gone. Today, it's strictly Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek delivered weekly by pimply youths straight out of Magdalen College masquerading as editoria- lists.

The other day subscribers to The Economist received an email titled, "Britain's disas- trous new opposition leader". The editorial to which it points explains what a disaster Jeremy Corbyn is to the serene Albion, and how he didn't sing "God save the Que- en" at a shindig marking Her Majesty's endurance record on the Britannic throne.

The former is sheer poppycock. As to the latter, how could he sing "God save the Que- en" if he believes in neither? Jeremy Corbyn is not a disaster. It's David Cameron and Tony Blair who are, and it's because of them that Corbyn came to the leadership of Labour.

But they cannot say this. That's why they no longer can be taken seriously.


Statistically Significant

Fear

Friday, 18 September 2015

Percentage of people living in Turkey who say they are “very concerned” about the Islamic State : 33

Of people living in Israel : 44

In the United States : 68

This and more in this month's Harper's Index.


Choices '16

Her Kampf

Thursday, 17 September 2015

More Bibi than Bibi Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

"Fuck the Jews", said Hillary Clinton during a heated post-mortem debate in the White House after the calamitous 1994 mid-term elections. That, of course, had the immediate effect of landing her in a jar of political formaldehyde from which she has been trying to extricate herself ever since.

She had been quite effective, it must be said, given the sheer impossibility of the task, going so far as becoming Obama's Secretary of State. But, in her own judgement, not effective enough, the stench of the formaldehyde lingers on.

Her method of choice has always been to use her nose and tongue, so that is what she continues to deploy short of a better idea.

Writing for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald describes her latest servicing of Bibi's rectum.


EARLIER ENTRIES

Essential Reading

  (Essential Viewing
  (Essential Listening→

Nathan Thrall illuminates Palesti- ne's plight.

Deborah Friedell deconstructs Trump.

Stiglitz thrashes the economic malfeasance on both sides of the Atlantic.

Varoufakis describes the beating Greece and he himself got at the hands of the Eurogroup thugs over in Brussels.

Tariq Ali looks at the defeat of Syriza

DSK addresses his German friends.

Varoufakis explains why Merkel is bent on Grexit

Chris Lehmann on the race to the Republican nomination

Deborah Friedell on the egalitaria- nism reigning at Harvard

Frances Stonor Saunders on the travails of Eric Hobsbawm

James Meek explains the impor- tance of Syriza

Tariq Ali looks at the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Tariq Ali dissects the post- Fer- guson America

LRB on the economic slaughter of Palestine

LRB on the art of ceasefire

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (VIII)

LRB on putting Palestine in formaldehyde

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (VII)

LRB on the genocide in Palestine.

LMD deconstructs TAFTA.

Dubya woz thear

A Tale from the Land Adjacent to the Land of the Absurd

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (VI)

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (V)

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (IV)

The Intercept

Le Roi s'amuse. The 2014 Oligarch Games in Sochi.

Thomas Frank on how the hap- less Democrats allow the brain- less Republicans to steal the show in Washington. (stub)

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (III)

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (II)

William T. Vollmann on being a permanent suspect. (stub)

Andrew Cockburn on sanctions.

The Guardian on the 1.6 percent solution.

National Journal on the collu- sion between the surveillance state and the Internet companies.

Glenn Greenwald talks to Harper's.

Frank on a "freedom fighter", a "journalist", and a "strategist", all freshly departed. (stub)

Ellsberg on the United Stasi of America

Tales from the Land of the Absurd (I)

The Israel Lobby

Mearsheimer on Gaza

Quentin Tarantino and Friends

Essential Viewing

Stiglitz in Paris

Lapham on the American ruling class (short, full).

Franck Lepage demolishes the notion that Culture is a social elevator (in French).

The Invisible Elephant in the Room

Blix on Iran

Chomsky in Trieste

Essential Listening

France Inter sur l'art contempo- rien (courtesy www.la-bas.org)

France Inter interview with Ken Loach (courtesy www.la-bas.org)

France Inter exposé on Pope Bergoglio (courtesy www.la-bas.org)
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4


France Inter interview with Tariq Ali, part 1; part 2

France Inter interview with Julian Assange, part 1; part 2