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    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]

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

    Surely guilty of something[zoom]

    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)

    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.

    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]

    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]

    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]

    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]

    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]

    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

    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.

    Positively angelic             [zoom]
    Photo: Ioana Hameeda/Warner

    Angela Gheorghiu sings Vissi d'arte from Tosca. Antonio Pappano conducts the orchestra of Covent Garden on the Autograph set from Warner Classics.

    They differ on abortion      [zoom]
    Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    You can have any colour you want", quipped Henry Ford of the Model-T, "so long as it's black." It's the same between the Demo- crats and the Republicans, though they differ on abor- tion. Here's the best primer to the American politics we have seen for a long time.

    Pueden                              [zoom]
    Oesterle, Hinojosa/Demotix-Corbis

    Following the municipal elections, two indignados take key Spanish mayor- ships: Manuela Carmena in Madrid, and Ada Colau in Barcelona. ¡Olé!

    It's a red cape, actually     [zoom]
    Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

    After a shindig at Adel- son's, the yelping coming out of Tel Aviv (see below) morphed into attempts at biting. The advocates of the BDS will be barred from Is- rael (darn!) and targeted with as yet unspecified har- dship by the mogul himself.

    Us, version 0.1                 [zoom]
    Photo: ABC News/Le Monde

    If you want to see how you came out of the sea, watch this. In a surprise display of human-like behaviour, his specimen, barely out of water, was found to attack small birds and fish bigger than itself.

    High-hanging fruit             [zoom]
    Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

    Distressed yelping emana- tes from Tel Aviv as Neta- nyahu interprets the French telecoms giant Orange pu- llout from Israel as BDS. A crisis meeting will be held in Las Vegas this week- end by Sheldon Adelson who has summoned Jewish heavyweights to talk strate- gy to counter the growing movement.

    The browning of California [zoom]
    Graph: The Economist et al.

    Even the governor is Bro- wn. Here's a view from the US Drought Monitor, and here an animation courtesy Mother Jones.

    "Where am I?"                   [zoom]
    Photo: WPA Pool/Getty

    Glen Newey demolishes Queen's Speech.

    La forza Damrau                [zoom]
    Photo: Michael Tammaro

    Diana Damraugoes all out in the aria Ah lo sento from Salieri's opera L'Europa ri- conosciuta. Jérémie Rho- rer conducts Le Cercle de l'Harmonie.

    Tours de force                   [zoom]
    Ph.: Christophe Raynaud de Lage

    Natalie Dessay recasts herself as a theatre actress in a one-woman show at the Drama Centre in Tours, where she performs to an enthusiastic audience in Und by the Englishman Howard Barker. We wish her as much success in the- atre as she had in opera.

    Admire Greeks bearing change
    Photo: Fotis Pleagas G/AP

    Our Munich correspondent forwards this NYT piece about Greece, sounding, for a change, an optimistic note, particularly notewor- thy since it comes from a German pen. It is the effect of Syriza on the young pe- ople described by Bittner that we've been waiting for.

    Look, no spark                  [zoom]
    Photo: Stephen Brashear/AFP

    More sleepless nights for the Dreamliner engineers. The onboard electricity ge- nerators inexplicably shut down at random moments. Given that the 787 is en- tirely electrically controlled, this poses a serious pro- blem. The solution is to completely power down the craft and unplug it from ex- ternal supplies of current. The snag is the plane refu- ses to boot afterward.

    So many parades so little time
    Photo: Reuters                   [zoom]

    We signal presidential material. Sen. Lindsey Gra- ham (R. S.Carolina) says he's running because "the world is falling apart" and the country needs a good commander-in-chief. We can't wait to hear the deba- tes.
    PS Graham was supported by Sheldon Adelson during his bid for the Senate seat. It doesn't get any better than that.

    Photo: Richard Drew/AP
    The chamber bursts into laughter followed by prolon- ged heckling from the Pale- stinian members (promptly escorted out) after Bibi mentions "peace" in the opening speech to the new Knesset.

    Even some Texas Repub- licans are waking up.

    On the same page             [zoom]
    Photo: Andrew Medichini/AP

    Bibi's having a fit as Vati- can recognizes Palestine in a treaty. "This move does not promote the peace pro- cess," growled Netanyahu in his role as the foreign mi- nister. We fear random la- shing out on his part to vent anger.

    Beegone                            [zoom]
    Chart: U. of Maryland

    Massive bee loses have been registered in the US in the 2014/15 season. Varroa was the killer, with pesticides the accomplice. In a new development, sum- mer loses topped the winter ones. Mortality correlated with the use of pesticides, being heaviest in the Corn Belt, which massively re- sorts to chemistry to maxi- mize yields.

    Soon to rat on you too       [zoom]
    Photo: SPL

    A new frontier called the microbiome is opening to the snoops. A sample of excrement might soon lead them to the depositor, says an article in Nature.

    "We tighten the screw?"   [zoom]
    Photo: Home Office

    On the pretext of fighting 'terrorism', Cameron plans to restrict the freedom of speech, focusing on the internet and the mosque (but not the church), and snooping on telephone conversations. Such a bold clampdown on the pea- santry will surely merit him a lordship from the hand of Her Majesty.

    Biondina inside                 [zoom]
    Painting by anonymous artist

    Juan Diego Flórez sings a traditional Venetian song La biondina in gondoeta, acco- mpanied by the Venice Ba- roque Orchestra on a fre- shly released DG disk Avi Avital Vivaldi.

    "Look at 'em scuttle"        [zoom]
    Photo: Haim Schwarzenberg

    It has emerged that Israeli soldiers amused themsel- ves during lulls in last ye- ar's punitive expedition to Gaza by taking potshots at the Palestinian civilians. See Interview (Hebrew/Fre- nch) Compare this and con- trast with this.

    A strong but weakening brand
    Cima da Conegliano          [zoom]

    Though diminishing, reli- giosity remains strong across the world. It stood at 68% in 2012, according to a report by WIN-Gallup, having lost 9 points since 2005. China, at 14%, takes the cigar for rational thin- king, followed by Japan, the Czech Republic, Turkey (yes!) and Sweden. Credu- lity in the US stands at an impressive 60%.

    Fire in the nostrils             [zoom]
    Photo: NASA

    The Elonian rocketeering project successfully com- pletes a launch abort test at the government space fa- cility at Cape Canaveral.

    Bibi woz thear                   [zoom]
    Photo: Getty

    General Martin Dempsey (US Army): "Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." Well, thank you, Israel! Here's a version from the field.

    Bad at Bad Aibling            [zoom]
    Photo: AFP

    Angie spies on herself for the Americans.

    Quo vadis?                       [zoom]
    Photo: ABC News

    Practice makes perfect.

    Positively crocodilian       [zoom]
    Photo: Tony Avelar/AP

    Orgy in Cupertino. The toy- maker Apple paid $83m to the sales chief Angela Ah- rednt last year.

    Image: INC
    Some good news from the 2014 INC report Pesticides et risques de cancer. First, even if some pesticides find their way to the [European] food and water, their con- centration is too low to ha- ve an effect on health. Se- cond, big consumers of fruits and vegetables (po- tential carriers of the che- micals) are best protected against cardiovascular dise- ases and cancer. The re- port says nothing about the levels of agrochemicals in wine.

    Something's upside down
    Photo: Sacramento Bee     [zoom]

    Student debt in America reached $1.2tn in 2014, ex- ceeding that of credit card and car loan. A typical fre- shly-minted lawyer begins career with a $300k hole in his pocket and slim pros- pects of landing a job.

    Adieu!                                [zoom]

    The legendary prima balle- rina Maya Plisetskaya died today at the age of 89.

    "Read my lips"                  [zoom]
    Photo: Screen capture/Bollywood

    Per kitsch ad astra. (wh)

    Running while black         [zoom]
    Photo: from video by witness

    Belén Fernández reports on the discontent in Balti- more.

    Elle est conne...                [zoom]
    Photo: UGC

    Catherine Leprince sings J'suis conne de ne pas av- oir accepté from the Trente Glorieuses film by Claude Confortès Vive les fem- mes! Excerpt.

    Time flies                           [zoom]
    Photo: M. Smith/Wikipedia

    The Airbus A380 has been flying now for 10 years. 156 are in service and 161 on order. Passengers like it.

    Fatal attraction                  [zoom]
    Photo: BBC

    Rather than being repelled by them, bees are attracted to the neonicotinoid pestici- des, reports Nature.

    Subversive element
    Photo: AFP

    The fink who had ratted on Anne Frank turns out to be sister of the angel who had helped hide her from the Gestapo.

    Marble, mahogany, and gold
    Photo: Susan Walsh/AP     [zoom]

    Having well served the banksters as chief of the Fed, Bernanke retires into a rich sinecure at the Cita- del hedge fund.

    The goldman touch
    Image: Goldman Sachs

    Goldman Sachs extracts record profit speculating in frothy markets of the first quarter. Trading revenue rose 23% to $5.5bn. Tobin tax begs to be implemen- ted.

    "¡Hasta la victoria, siempre!
    Photo: Alberto Korda         [zoom]

    Compay Segundo sings Hasta Siempre, Comandan- te by Carlos Puebla.


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


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:

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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


Sleepy In Gaza

Saturday, 12 September 2015

From The Guardian. As the sandstorm approaches, a Palestinian boy sleeps inside the ruins of the family house shelled by the Israelis during the assault on Gaza in 2014.[zoom]

Photo: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Essential Reading

Sermon On The Mount

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

"The American recovery is an illusion"                             Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Last week Joseph Stiglitz gave an interview to Le Monde to comment on his latest book, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them*.


Le Monde: In your book you explain that inequality is at the root of the crisis which began in 2007. Why is the inequality still hampering the recovery?

Joseph Stiglitz: First, because inequality is often the result of privileges and mono- polies which paralyze the economy. But above all because inequality produce a terrible trap. For the lower-class Americans, having bad health coverage and access to edu- cation, social mobility no longer functions. They have little chance to see their income go up. Without increasing incomes there is no increase in consumption. That's what cripples growth.

Before the subprimes crisis, the spending of American households was artificially —and dramatically—inflated by credit. Now, that this lever has vanished, we see the ravages provoked by by the inequality. Inequality is incompatible with healthy growth.

LM: But the recession itself has increased inequality!

JS: Yes, but let's not make a mistake: inequality hasn't been brought about by fate, it's a result of a political choice. To illustrate, certain countries succeeded aligning growth with equality because they made a priority of this double objective. It's the case in the Scandinavian countries, but also in Singapore, or on the island of Mauritius, all of whom have succeeded to diversify their economies investing in education of their populations. The United States has a lot to learn from these examples.

LM: You call on the industrialized nations, particularly the United States, to in- vest in innovation, infrastructure, and education. How could it be done when the public debt reaches record levels?

JS: That's a very bad excuse. In the US the real interest rates are negative, and they are very low in Europe. Time has never been so favourable to invest. More so that the investment of the type we are talking about will feed a solid growth in the years to come, and so will the additional tax revenue allowing to balance public accounts.

To go into debt in order to build the future is not a brake on the growth. Not doing it is to send a poisoned present to the future generations.

LM: Will the world sink into a long period of feeble growth?

JS: Long-term stagnation has two causes. First is the anaemic global demand caused by unwarranted austerity measures in Europe. The second revolves around the ques- tions concerning the innovations in the recent years.

As exemplified by Facebook, or Airbnb, the shared economy doesn't generate gains in productivity as powerful as those of the industrial revolution, and we don't know how to measure that which it contributes to the GDP.

Will one of these change things? Impossible to tell, because, by definition, this kind of advances are unpredictable.

But one thing is sure: the state has a role to play investing in research to help develop these innovations. The investment of the enterprises alone isn't enough.

LM: But if this doesn't materialize, if no innovation relaunches the growth in productivity?

JS: In the end this wouldn't be so dramatic. because planet's resources are limited. We could well get used to a perpetually weak growth, if it's accompanied by policies to reduce inequality

LM: Despite increased inequality which you denounce the American economy gained 3.7% in the second quarter. That's not so bad.

JS: The American recovery is an illusion. It is true that our unemployment rate is low (5.3%), but great numbers of unemployed have left the statistics. The country is short of three million jobs. The Fed doesn't understand this. It's fixes are unsuitable.

Growth in recent years has been fueled by the cheap dollar, which somewhat increased our competitivity, and by the stock market bubble. But the weak dollar is behind us, and the market bubble only slightly contributes to household consumption It's not tenable.

LM: What should be done to stimulate a healthy growth in the United States?

JS: There are many choices. Invest in research, education, infrastructure, ease access to higher education. Establishment of a minimum wage seems to me also a good idea.

In recent years profits have disproportionately increased compared to wages. This distortion in the share of income is a source of inequality and it weakens the potential for growth.

Another way to correct this inequality would be to make taxation more progressive and equitable. It's not normal when a speculator pays less taxes than a worker.

LM: Why shouldn't the next president, if he's a Democrat, implement such measures even though Barack Obama himself failed to do it?

JS: Barack Obama committed errors. But something has since changed in the United States. Many politicians, notably in the Senate, realized there was an urgent need to take on the inequalities. All the Democrat candidates have made it a priority.

LM: Let's talk a little about Europe. Will the third Greek rescue plan get it out of the rut?

JS: This plan is a guarantee that Greece will sink into a long and painful depression. I'm not very optimistic.

The only good news is that the International Monetary Fund campaigns now for a reduction of the public debt. That, however, hasn't prevented the creditors to adopt a aid plan which doesn't mention the subject.

LM: Why is debt such a sensitive subject in Europe?

JS: For two reasons. The first one is that there's confusion. Debt is there perceived as a brake on the growth, while, to the contrary, it assures future prosperity when it serves to finance key investments. The Europeans have forgotten it.

And for a reason: part of the Old Continent's right fuels this debt hysteria with the goal of finishing off with the welfare state. Their objective is simple: to reduce the reach of the state.

It's very troubling, to enclose itself in this vision of the world, in the obsession of austerity and the phobia of the debt, the European Union is in the process of destroying its future.

Marie Charrel, journalist, macroeconomy and monetary policy
1 September 2015

*) WW Norton & Co., April 2015

Tragicomic Relief

Brain Damage

Thursday, 8 September 2015

It was reported that 24 people suffered concussions during an annual pillow fight at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point last month."

We wonder how they could tell.

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


Hillary Regrets

Sunday, 6 September 2015

"Honestly!"                                                                           Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Hillary likes to take people for idiots.

'Apologizing' for her illegal use of private email for conducting American foreign affairs, she said she wished she made a "different choice" and not use a private email account while serving as US secretary of state (as per BBC News.) This gave the impression that there was a smorgasbord of confusing options out of which she, by some mis- fortune, chose a wrong one. This is a falsehood because there were no options.

Then she said, "I'm sorry this has been confusing." Confusing? No, she wanted to make it look confusing to hide the malfeasance.

And then, "she didn't "stop and think" about how use of a private email account would be perceived". In other words, not whether it was illegal but whether it looked bad.

Not only is she a cheat, but a manipulative cheat. She ought to be thrown in prison to straighten up before it's too late.


From Sea To Shining Sea

Friday, 4 September 2015

"Look, another one from Bibi"                                                 Photo: Patrick T.Fallon/NYT

Venice used to have special provisions for keeping money out of politics. Principally, they consisted of public hangings which took place between the columns of Saints Mark and Theodore on the waterfront at the Piazzetta.

The last view was breathtaking.

Zorzi reports* that before being allowed to settle in Venice, Jews, who had bad press for corrupting the system, were asked if they would accept to settle in a walled part of the city called the ghetto (foundry) and to stay home after 9 pm. They agreed, came, and proceeded to do brisk business lending and exchanging money at the banchetti (hence your "bank") at Rialto. Shylock among others was based there. History regi- sters no political corruption originating from the Ghetto.

The anti-corruption measures were so effective that the Republic had prospered for 11 centuries, dominating economically and militarily half of the Mediterranean and a good part of Asia, trading with Turkey, Persia, India, China, and Japan. The decline came when the main trading routes switched toward the Americas.

Contrast this with the American ethos, where cash-for-influence is the lifeblood of the politics, and ask yourself how long this could last.

Julian Borger's recent piece in The Guardian provides grist for the ruminantions.

A few Venetian Jews still live in the Ghetto, and the local branch of the Lubavitch sect runs shop there. American tourists duly line up to visit, as they do to Peggy Guggen- heim's on the Grand Canal. But the old rectitude, irrespective of the duress under which it was extracted, has gone. Our Venice correspondent reports that "Gam Gam", a prosperous restaurant in the Ghetto owned by an Orthodox Rabbi, recently got cau- ght not paying any taxes for the last ten years.

Il Gazzettino, the local newspaper, says a fisc now sits at the cash register and chan- nels proceeds straight to the Treasury.

*) Alvise Zorzi, Storia di Venezia, Tascabili Bompiani, 2001

Tragicomic Relief

Settling Scores

Thursday, 3 September 2015

In Zimbabwe’s Camp Hwang Park, where an American dentist beheaded a 13-year- old lion named Cecil, a 14-year-old lion named Nxaha mauled to death a safari guide."

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

Love Letters

Wisteria And G&Ts

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Off to the terrace at Gritti's                                                                        Photo: Getty

One Brit's happiness in Italy.


Gordon vs. Weaponized Zionism

Monday, 31 August 2015

Advantage Gordon                                                                Photos: Ben Gurion U., JPost

Neve Gordon teaches politics and government at the Ben Gurion University. In his spare time he is active in the peace movement and he writes, frequently contributing highly readable and insightful posts to the blog at the London Review of Books.

In the August 17 posting he writes about the Iranian deal and explains why the IDF likes it.

Having read it, we realized we had never asked ourselves who exactly was Neve Gor- don. Wikipedia came to the rescue. In the bargain, in two references at the bottom, it deliciously hinted at some kind of a tiff between him and Alan Dershowitz. That meri- ted further digging.

The first of the two references points to Dershowitz's broadside at Gordon published in the Jerusalem Post, where Dershowitz is a regular contributor. In essence, he calls Gordon a "self-hating Jew" in thrall of Adolf Hitler, and quotes others who compare him to members of Judenrats—the standard napalm treatment for anyone who dares to criticize Netanyahu.

The second reference points to Gordon's quiet and devastating riposte. Originally it had also appeared at JPost (a chum of Murdoch's Wall Street Journal) but soon later got taken off, while Dershowitz's (dated November 2006) persists to this day.

Funny how it works. Give them a read.


The Top 50

Friday, 28 August 2015

Appellation and entry controlées                                                    Photo: Wine Searcher

Great wine comes from the vineyard, not from the cellar," said Henri Jayer, perhaps the grandest vigneron of all time.

If that is so, the loftiest prices surely come from the fad, vanity, boosterism, and igno- rance.

At a 2008 Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong a bottle of Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru Côte de Nuits fetched $24,000. The average price for this wine is $14,600. It is cur- rently world's most expensive wine, edging out for the first time the Romenée-Conti Romenée-Conti Grand Cru. The figures come from Wine Searcher which has just published a list of world's 50 most expensive wines. These are also the best wines if you happen to subscribe to the neoliberal ethos where (as Andrew Cockburn recently pointed out in Harper's) the value of a thing is its price.

The buyers such as those in HK inhabit just such a world.

The list is as interesting by what it contains as by what it doesn't.

A whopping 40 out of the 50 are Burgundies ('burgs' in the American newspeak, we've just discovered, in analogy to the 'cabs' and 'chards'.) There are four Germans, one American, two Bordeaux and two Champagnes. Yquem, not to the taste of the homo postsovieticus, got bumped by an Ukrainian. No Brunello, Barolo, or Barbaresco bru- talize the list, and no Australian cabernet.

All the entries are no doubt great wines, surely those from Jayer. But their mix and the absence of some of the greatest hint at the market forces, not the refinement of taste, that put them there. It particularly pains us not to see even one of the great clarets of the Médoc, as if from one season to the next Lafite had lost the ability to compliment a rack of lamb, a duck, or a nice cut of beef. In fact, all that many of them need to compliment nowadays is a golden Rolex strapped over a shirt sleeve, and the rack of lamb is not much done in Beijing anyway.

The list's biases reflect the questionable tastes and often limited horizons of the new entrants into the wine market: the rich Asians and the aforementioned h. postsovie- ticus, who not so long ago were cutting freshly-released Petrus half-and-half with Coca-Cola™ so as to make it resemble that which they knew.

Statistically Significant

Live Fire

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Number of people fatally shot by British police in the past three years : 2

Average number of people fatally shot by US police each day so far this year : 2.6

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


John Florio, aka William Shakespeare

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Guiglielmo Crollalanza                         Image: Unknown Renaissance artist/Toby Melville/Reuters

Hamlet, says the jester, was not written by Shakespeare but by another man by the same name.

This man, it is beginning to emerge, was one John Florio, an Italian of parts (he spoke seven languages and was the first to translate Montaigne into English) living in London, where, together with his father Michelangelo, he tried to domesticate the rough-and-ready English nobility.

The revelation is the fruit of scholarship and perseverance by the people like Diana Price (Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography, 2001), and Lamberto Tassinari's John Florio, The Man Who Was Shakespeare, 2012..

In Friday's edition, Le Monde lists the clues pointing to the improbability of a modest burgher from Stratford-upon-the-Backwater having sired the opus we know and love. Firstly, his intimate knowledge of Italy. Of his 36 works, the action of 16 takes place in that country and in its literature—the works of Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Aretino, and Bruno, the latter not having had at the time been yet translated into English.

And then there's the name; how did the strange name "Shakespeare" come about? To answer this question it suffices to reach to the encyclopædia. Florio's Sicilian mother's maiden name, it explains, was Crollalanza. Nothing more complicated than that.

All this will be difficult for many a Brit to digest, but that's how it is. It is a good remin- der that there are more strings attaching Albion to the old Continent than the limited minds of the Tory politicos would like to acknowledge.

Tragicomic Relief

The Daily Carnage

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

In Missouri, St. Louis County authorities declared a state of emergency after an ar- med man was shot by police during an exchange of gunfire at a protest comme- morating the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. Police in Houston arrested a gunman who broke into his ex-wife’s home and killed her, her husband, and the couple’s six children. In Antioch, Tennessee, a man armed with a hatchet, pepper spray, and a pellet gun injured three people at a movie theater before being shot and killed by police. In Colorado, James Egan Holmes was sentenced to life in prison for killing 12 people and injuring 70 at a movie theater in the town of Aurora in 2012.

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

Tales From The Hive

Fatal Attraction

Monday, 10 August 2015

It's fun, for now                                                                  Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP

Our friend, the honeybee, has three deadly enemies: Monsanto, varroa, and, since 2004, the Asian hornet, which kills the bees by biting their heads off. The hornet, na- tive of China, has quickly spread throughout Europe decimating bee colonies.

But now a team working at the Nantes Botanical garden reports having discovered something that may halt the hornet's progress. They've found out that the beast is fatally attracted to the nectar and the pheromones of the carnivorous plant sarracenia, whose long, slippery stem the bug enters following the scent but cannot exit, even- tually succumbing to the digestive juices circulating within.

This at first blush might look like fantastic news for the bees, but it isn't yet, because the sarracenia cannot exterminate the millions of the hornets in circulation. The research therefore concentrates on discovering the agents responsible for attracting the hornets, then, once these are identified, synthesizing them for a massive deploy- ment in hornet traps, thus offering hope for eventually eradicating the pest.

Editor's Note: A version of the story appears in today's BBC News. It looks like an unattributed direct translation of an article which appeared in Sunday's Le Monde.

Choices '16

Hands Joining Hands

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Koch bacillus                                      Photo: Dr George Kubica/Center for Disease Control

Le Monde notes that in the spirit of the Citizens United there is a billionaire be- hind every hopeful standing for the 2016 American presidential elections.

Thus, Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies has thrown $11m into the war chest of the Texas Republican Ted Cruz, and Norman Braman, who sells fancy cars in Florida, $5m to that of the Republican Marco Rubio.

The gambling magnate Donald Trump (a true role model for young people), for his part, supports Donald Trump.

Other citizens have united with the candidate Hillary Clinton. Among them the Holly- wood moguls Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, director Steven Spielberg, and pro- ducer Jeffrey Katzenberg. The party is rounded off with the 'philanthropist' George Soros. We are sure that the straight Jewish alinement is a pure coincidence.

83 percent of the Arkansas Republican Mike Huckabee's financing comes from an agribusiness kahuna Ronald Cameron, who, says, Le Monde, maintains a veto power over the campaign. It would be strange if he didn't.

The frontrunner in this sham, however, is Jeb Bush who has so far collected $100m.

But it's the citizens David and Charles Koch (united) who take the cigar for the tena- city of their support for all that's reactionary, fascist, and deranged. They've set aside nearly a $billion for the purpose.

The stench of decay coming out of this brothel is suffocating.


Trinity Test

Thursday, 6 August 2015

16 milliseconds after it worked                       Photo: Berlyn Brixner/Los Alamos Nat. Laboratory

70 years ago the first nuclear explosion lit the sky over the New Mexico desert.

"It worked," said Robert Oppenheimer to his brother Frank in the bunker at the test site. "It worked," said Frank.

"Now we are all sons of bitches," said the Trinity test director Kenneth Bainbridge.

Tragicomic Relief

It Can't Happen Here

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A white University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on a murder charge for shooting an unarmed black man named Samuel DuBose in the head after pulling him over for driving without a front license plate. "This doesn't happen in the United States," the prosecutor said. "People don't get shot for a traffic stop.""

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

Essential Reading

The Rape Of Lucretia, Part 2

Friday, 31 July 2015

"...and now open your legs"                                                               Painting by Titian

Dictatorship, said Karl Marx, is the final stage of capitalism.

This actually arrived the other day when a kangaroo court conducted by the Euro- group cut Greece's throat and mortally wounded Europe.

We've read various reports of the encounter between the defender and the prosecution. Having been commissioned by the same banksters, they all sounded about the same and featured Greece as a profligate southern drunk who must be taught a lesson and put on a straight-and-narrow toward fiscal rectitude. Save for the piece from Tariq Ali (see below), we have not seen anything that substantially departed from the directives of the ECB politburo.

Until this one from Yanis Varoufakis, who had the advantage of sitting at the table in Brussels until he got thrown out the door by the henchmen of the hegemon.

Do read and ponder the imperfection of this best of all possible worlds.

Essential Reading

Ali On How Tsipras Killed The Syriza Revolution

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ali is sad                                                                                              Photo: Tumblr

The EU has now succeeded in crushing the political alternative that Syriza repre- sented."

Tariq Ali casts light on the defeat of Syriza at the hand of the Banks.


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Near the headwaters of the Yangtze River in the Quinghai Tibet                [zoom]

Photo: Gilles Sabrié/Le Monde

An Onion

A Modest Proposal

Friday, 24 July 2015

Surely they must be joking                                                  Photo: John Englart/Wikipedia

In response to the rise of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement tar- geting Israel for its exploits in the Occupied Territories and Gaza, Sen. Chuck Schu- mer (D, NY) has introduced a measure aiming at neutralizing the initiative which is rapidly gaining strength in Europe and the United States.

Co-sponsored by the Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, the bill calls for penalizing the participants, such as the merchants caught car- rying non-Israeli products while such products are available for importation from Israel. They will be facing sanctions ranging from fines, up to suspension of the business license.

Similarly, clients intercepted purchasing non-Israeli products when Israeli products are available, will be subject to a fine or imprisonment for up to three months.

A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu stated that while weak, the bill was a "step in the right direction". He added that it "should help redress some of the injustices brought about by the BDS."

The legislation was met with enthusiastic bi-partisan reception in both chambers of Congress and is expected to pass into law later this year.

Tragicomic Relief

Yob's Torment

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The South Carolina state legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House, where it has flown since 1962. State Representative Mi- chael Pitts attempted to stall the passage of the bill by attaching 54 amendments, including one that would have required the U.S. flag to be flown upside down on the do- me of the state's capitol building. "To remove the flag," said Harvey Peeler Jr., one of three senators who voted against the legislation, "would be like removing a tattoo from the corpse of a loved one."

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


DSK To His German Friends

Sunday, 19 July 2015

And to you too                                                                     Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may not always know how to keep his zipper in the up- right and locked position when such restraint is called for, but he is a brilliant man and he knows a thing or two about international finance and politics, so when he speaks about them, it's good to listen.

He spoke yesterday.

Regular Readers of Daily Detox know our Essential Reading column. What DSK is saying would normally go there, but it goes a step beyond essential, it is compulsory, for today the very notion of a united Europe is under fire and it upsets him. However tragic the Greek crisis is, one good thing that has already come out of it is DSK's appeal to his German friends.

America has already put a checkered napkin around her neck and set out a plate and fork, and now is sharpening the knife to devour her 'friend-and-ally' Europe, while wa- shing it down with an old Bordeaux.

This repas must not come to be.


Clappers At The Gate

Thursday, 16 July 2015

She's got a pen                                                                              Photo: Katy Scoggin

If you quickly want to check whether your country is totalitarian or not, look at the whereabouts of your creative people.

If, as in the Stalinist Russia, they are all in or on the way to the Gulag, you know you live in a totalitarian country. If, as in the post-war Britain, they are always tailed, you know you live in a country aspiring to be totalitarian. Similarly, if, every time they travel, they find themselves interrogated by the police at the airport, you know you live in a country aspiring to be totalitarian.*

The United States today is just such a country.

Consider the case of the filmmaker Laura Poitras. Poitras made several mistakes, beginning with a film about the fiasco in Iraq, and culminating with helping Edward Snowden spill the goods about the American totalitarian project into the public domain. That put her, along with Glenn Greenwald, into the coveted "400" category, the highest security risk, if not to America, then to its totalitarian project. This classi- fication guarantees one a sadistic 'security' check at home and abroad whenever one travels.

Today, this dangerous 400 has filed a lawsuit against the Miniluv (and two of its who- lly-owned subsidiaries) for harassment. The Intercept has the story. Make sure to read the transcript of her court filing.

*) Restricting travel is a favourite punishment meted out by the totalitarians to who dis- obeys. Withholding passport, for example, works wonders in that respect.


Their Pound Of Flesh

Tuesday, 14 July 2015, updated Wednesday, July 15th

Having just fleeced someone                  Drawing by Honoré Daumier, via Lapham's Quarterly

In 1953 the huge German war debt was cancelled. What ensued, with the help of the Marshall Plan, was decades of economic expansion in Germany and the rest of Wes- tern Europe, culminating in the emergence of Germany as an economic superpower. This makes Merkel think she has the right to throw her weight around in Europe.

One would have hoped the lesson of the debt cancellation was not lost on the poli- ticians.

But it was. Instead of drastically reducing the Greek debt, the Eurogroup decided to squeeze the last drop of blood out of the Elgin marble*. Schäuble and the bankers may think they've won. But even if the deal gets implemented, it will leave Europe with a gangrenous wound in her side.

DD hopes this savage and contemptuous deal will be rejected by the Greek parlia- ment.

After Italy's reunification, Massimo d'Azeglio noted, "We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians." This is still work in progress. For the united Europe to function, Merkel and her Christian Democrats must learn how to become Europeans. We would like to hold our breath.

Update  Christine Lagarde must have read DD. The IMF fires a salvo at the Euro- group for their mis-handling of the Greek bailout.

*) It is more than possible that removing Syriza from power, rather than sorting out Gre- ece's financial woes, is the primary motive behind the 'bailout' deal. Getting rid of Syri- za will resolve the problem of the Greek veto over TAFTA. This would please America and demonstrate to anyone watching that no socialist government, no matter how democratic and democratically elected, would be tolerated in Europe. The hardship which will befall the Greeks in the wake of the deal is speculated to lead to the demise of Syriza. It will also function as a shot across the bow to other popular movements, such as Podemos in Spain.



Sunday, 12 July 2015

"Schäuble?"                                                                                  Photo: The Guardian

All you hear about Greece these days comes from the bankers.

Here, for a change, is something that comes from the opposite side.

Tales From The Hive

Plight Of The Bumblebee

Saturday, 11 July 2015

"Brm brm, it isn't here as it used to be"                                              Photo: Bernie Kohl

Bumblebees aren't adapting well to the changing climate, writes Science. While other species migrate north or seek higher altitudes to chill down, the bumblebees hang around, if in ever-diminishing numbers, eventually to vanish altogether. It is in this manner that the southern extent of their territory in the US and in Europe has shrunk by 300 km.

So why is it such a big deal a person might ask? It is in its own right for the obvious reason, but in the case of the bumblebees it carries an economic cost: bumblebees happen to be exceptionally good pollinators. Anyone who has ever seen one of them buzzing around encrusted in pollen would know why. Their absence will mean fewer pollinated plants and more meagre harvests.

Brm brm, that's why.


Margin Call

Friday, 10 July 2015

"Can I put it on my credit card?"                                             Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Chinese markets tanked wiping out $3 trillion of shareholder value, much of it hard- earned cash of the little people.

In the $11tn Chinese economy that begins to look like real money.

The government sprang into action. On July 8, CSRC, the Chinese market regulator, announced that anyone holding more than five percent in a Chinese company had no right to sell it for the next six months, foreigners included. It had previously lowered interest rates and halted all new floatations. To no avail. The same fiasco met the initiative by the 21 principal brokerage houses to plow $19bn into financial products.

But the pièce de résistance of the measure came as a $42bn line of credit to the bro- kers so they could in turn lend to the punters to allow them to buy on margin. In other words, the government resolved to douse the fire with petrol.

Have great expectations.

Tragicomic Relief


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A 28-year-old man was killed by a 12-foot alligator while swimming in a Texas bayou. “Fuck the alligator,” he said before jumping into the water.

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



Sunday, 6 July 2015 19:12 UTC

"Anybody seen a yes vote?"                                                  Photo: Marko Djurica/Reuters

Daily Detox is predicting a roughly 60 percent win for the No vote in the Greek referendum.


The Rape Of Lucretia

Friday, 3 July 2015

"Cough up, Lucy!"                                                                             Painting by Titian

Daily Detox is so upset it is unable to collect its thoughts. Varoufakis ought to give someone a headbutt.

Supported by Merkel on the advice of her evil accountant Schäuble, by Hollande and his fascist dwarf Valls, and by Juncker, who set up Luxembourg as a one-stop tax evasion shop for the multinationals, the loathsome Troika, after months of secret scheming, is ready to cut Greece's throat in punishment for its stubbornness in not accepting the conditions for the rescue loan it badly needs in order to survive.

But it is not Greece who is stubborn but the creditors, and Tsipras is right to reject their conditions. One of them is the absurd requirement of a continuous four percent growth for the next 50 years. Another is the imposing extra taxes on the individuals, and a further reduction in pensions, already extremely low. All this to assure for the 'investors' a 'proper' rate of return on the advanced capital.

DD is not alone in condemning this swinery. Speaking yesterday to Le Monde, the incensed Thomas Piketty (our 2014 Person of the Year) said that "those who push for Grexit are dangerous lunatics", and implored François Hollande to veto an attempt to expel Greece from the Eurozone. He reminded all that the cancellation of the German debt in 1953 led to a long spell of vigourous growth not only there but also in the rest of Western Europe, and that Greece should benefit from a similar treatment. Expelling it from the Eurozone, he added, would threaten the entire European edifice. This is not to say that this is an abhorrent thought to everybody in the EU, far from it. But on this next time.

Piketty's message is essential to the understanding of the Greek crisis. That which you read in the paper and see on television is all propaganda sponsored by the banksters.

Postscriptum  Joseph Stiglitz (2001 Nobel in Economics) says the Greeks have been on an ineffective austerity diet for the last five years, and that it's an aberration to ask the country already on its knees to further tighten the belt.

Also Spricht  Klein

Rumble In The Cave

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Soft voice, hard message                                               Photo: Gordon Terris/SMN Archives

This is the second in a series of posts with quotations from Naomi Klein's latest opus, This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs. the Climate*.

From Chapter 1, Right Is Right, "The Revolutionary Power of Climate Change", p. 31,

More impressive, though left unspoken, are all the [climate change] news sto- ries that were never published and never aired. The years leading up to the gathering [of the Heartland Institute, a nuthouse group dedicated to suppressing the climate change dialogue] had seen a precipitous collapse of media coverage of climate change, despite a rise in extreme weather: in 2007, the three major US networks—CBS, NBC, and ABC—ran 147 stories on climate change; in 2011 the networks ran just fourteen stories on the subject. That too is the denier strategy at work, because the goal was never just to spread doubt but also to spread fear—to send a clear message that saying anything at all about climate change was a surefire way to find your inbox and comment threads jammed with a toxic strain of vitriol.

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank devoted to "promoting free-market solutions," has been holding these confabs since 2008, sometimes twice a year. And at the time of the gathering, the strategy appeared to be working. In his address, [Marc] Morano [editor of the denialist news site Climate Depot]—whose claim to fame is having broken the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth story that helped sink John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid—led the audience through a series of victory laps. Climate legislation in the US Senate: dead! The UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen: failure! The climate movement: suicidal! He even projected on the screen a couple of quotes from climate activists beating up on themselves (as progressives do so well) and exhorted the audience to "celebrate!"

The only things missing were balloons and confetti descending from the rafters.

*) Allen Lane, London, 2014, pp 566. Page numbers cited refer to this edition.

Lee Kee Shipyard

The Americans In Paris

Saturday, 27 June 2015

"Mais qu'est-ce qu'il y a dans cette mansarde ?"                      Photo: John Schults/Reuters

An editorial by Laurent Joffrin in Wednesday's Libération begins thusly (our tran- slation),

Contempt. There is no other word to describe Washington's attitude toward its allies, particularly France. Spying, against all rules of conduct among friendly countries, for at least six years on three French presidents, the United States has treated France as an infantile nation whose protestations carried no more weight than would screaming of a bad-mannered child. Not only did they completely discount the successive heads of the Republic, but they continue to mock them by keeping in place the ill-concealed big ears on the roof of their embassy, whose imperious edifice sits but 50 metres from the Elysée! It's a bit like an invited friend whom one surprises looking through the keyhole into one's bedroom. This confirms that the voyeuristic America, in all its might, can listen to anyone on the surface of the globe and that no one, citizen or State, partner or enemy, can hide from that Orwellian curiosity.

The spying revelation came out in the latest batch of documents released by Wiki- Leaks, which chose Libération as the conduit.

In the latter part of his editorial, Joffrin floats an idea of poking the clapper in the eye by offering Snowden a political asylum in France. We think it's an excellent sugge- stion and hope François Hollande finds the gonadal fortitude to take it.

Tragicomic Relief

Good Boy

Friday, 26 June 2015

A 21-year-old white man in South Carolina walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest black congregations in the South, and opened fire on a Bible study group, killing nine people. Police captured the shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, after a 14-hour manhunt, then gave him a bulletproof vest, bought him a ham- burger and fries at a Burger King, and locked him in the Charleston County Jail, where Michael Slager, a former police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man earlier this year, is being held.

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

Music Of The Spheres

The 2015 Summer Solstice

Sunday, 21 June 2015

A bright moment with a dark outlook                                                         Photo: NASA

Summer solstice in Northern Hemisphere arrives on 21 June at 16:38 UTC, marking the longest day of the year and the beginning of a slide toward winter.

Help is on the way to our Readers in the benighted Antipodes.

Choices '16

The Great Republican Twit Race

Friday, 19 June 2015

Oh, dear                                                                      Photo: Monty Python's Flying Circus

First see this. Then read this.

Bad Jokes

Better Shut Up

Thursday, 18 June 2015

"It's a medicine lab out there"                                                       Painting by Jean Alaux

Saint-Simon reports that returning injured from a campaign in the Flanders, Maré- chal de Villars imprudently referred to the ladies in the dauphine's court as "the who- res in Mme de Bourgogne's entourage". In that epoch, sadly lacking the mobile tele- phone and the Internet, the observation had none the less made it to the Versailles with the speed of light.

Though substantially true, the remark provoked unending grief to the good Maréchal, though overtly there had been no repercussion, either from King Louis, his son, or the daughter-in-law. It's that Marshall's dogs had all of a sudden ceased to hunt, and not until both la dauphine and her husband abruptly died of plague that the animals had resumed their activity.

We doubt the professor of medicine at the University College London, and Nobel lau- reate Sir Tim Hunt can count on a similarly lucky outcome after he quipped about "girls in the lab falling in love with you and then crying when you criticize them". He got gamely kicked out of the School and some of the worthy scientific societies to which he belonged for chauvinism.

We fear for the British sense of humour.


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

France Inter interview with Ken Loach (courtesy

France Inter exposé on Pope Bergoglio (courtesy
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