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    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 Zucker- berg.

    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.

    Footage: The Guardian
    Greece has got its Syriza and Spain its Podemos. Now Britain has got Owen Jones. We encourage you to vote for him in tomor- row's elections.

    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.

    Ricci and getting riccier   [zoom]
    Photo: Loïc Venance/AFP

    Bodies begin to (softly) drop in the HSBC affair. Arlette Ricci, 73, of the perfume division of Nina Ricci's empire was put for a year on a low-caviar diet at contribuable's expense. We feel for her. In addition, she must avert eyes in the presence of champagne for three more years. She will lose a house in Paris and another in Corsica, and must cough up €10m for back taxes and some crumbs for a fine. No one has said how much she's got to wipe off the tears after jail but probably more than enough. For our part, we think that proper puni- shment for cheating the lit- tle taxpayers should be a total confiscation of mis- creant's earthly possessi- ons plus a period of diet.

    Tiny drummer                    [zoom]
    Photo: Allstar/Cinetex

    Günter Grass died today at the age of 87. DD salutes him, perhaps the only ex- Waffen-SS we ever would.

    Ouch!                                 [zoom]
    Photo: John Vachon

    Ozzies clamp down on op- ting out of child vaccination. That's the way to deal with obscurantism.

    "Got a drawing table?"     [zoom]
    Photo: Le Monde/Dailymotion

    Speaking with Le Monde Joseph Stiglitz launches a scathing attack on the eco- nomic policies conducted by the EU, saying they are decades behind the current economic thinking. He sin- gles out austerity as being particularly toxic, followed by the absence of a plan to grapple with inequality. An- gie and her evil accountant Schäuble should listen ca- refully.

    Chip or Dale?                    [zoom]
    Photo: Reuters

    Hillary Clinton is poised to launch her presidential bid. We wish her bad luck.

    Fidelity fiduciary bank       [zoom]
    Photo: Daniel Michailescu/AFP

    A $1bn evaporates from Moldavian banks to vanish into the mangroves of the offshore entities. The sum amounts to 15% of the Mol- davian GDP.

    Zeman who can say no     [zoom]
    Photo: David Sedlecký

    The Czech president Miloš Zeman refreshingly makes the US Amabassador to Prague persona non grata for telling him not to go to Moscow to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the second world war. We like that, but we don't like Zeman's chummy rela- tionship with Bibi and his hostility toward the Pales- tinians.

    Bibi has been telling por- kies denying Israel's spying on the US–Iran talks, shows The Intercept.

    Footage: Airbus
    The footage above explains how to enter a locked cock- pit of an Airbus jet. This procedure is useful in the unlikely event both pilots become incapacitated. The snag is that it doesn't work if the pilot sets the door opening mode on the cock- pit panel to "Lock", as it was on the Germanwings FL 4U 9525.

    Aristegui thanks her sup- porters.

    Whistle slinger                  [zoom]
    Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP

    The star journalist Carmen Aristegui is fired from Noti- cias MVS, the most liste- ned-to radio show in Mexi- co, for denouncing official corruption and encouraging whistle-blowing. Her two colleagues, Daniel Lizarra- ga and Irving Huerta got fired for a good measure for looking too closely into the circumstances surrounding the acquisition by the wife of el presidente Peña Nieto of a sumptuous villa known as the "White House" Sign petition calling for a re-ins- tatemnet of this brave wo- man to MVS.

    La vaillante citoyenne Louise
    Photo: Procinex et al.        [zoom]

    Cora Vaucaire sings Le Temps des cerises.

    Death in the family            [zoom]
    Photo: qypchak/Wikipedia

    Our Munich correspondent reports now that the bees had died of a varroa infes- tation (see below).

    Radiant future                    [zoom]
    Chart: Int'l Energy Agency

    A chart just released by the IEA shows world's atti- tude toward nuclear power generation.

    Death in the family            [zoom]
    Photo: qypchak/Wikipedia

    Our Munich correspondent reports on the demise of the ¾ of his bees during the winter. He has referred the case to the Institute of Biology of the Munich Uni- versity.

    Trust in Jesus!                   [zoom]
    Photo: AFP

    Faith-based governance in Florida..

    She likes her privacy       [zoom]
    Photo: AP

    Private world, private coun- try, private State Depart- ment, private email.

    No longer in opposition     [zoom]
    Photo: lalekseev

    Gunmen kill Russian op- position politician Boris Nemtsov. We are relieved to hear President Putin is personally taking charge of the investigation.

    A pied-à-terre less far       [zoom]
    Chart: Notaires

    Paris housing remains ser- iously expensive but the pri- ces have dropped below the symbolic €8,000/m2. The tr- end will continue in 2015. Hardest hit are the chic ar- rondissements in city's cen- tre.

    In happier times                [zoom]
    Photo: Daffy123

    An ambush by the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 fells an old Tory hand. Her Majesty won't be pleased having bestowed on Sir Mal- colm, MP, a knighthood, a QC and a KCMG.The Guar- dian supplies a post-mor- tem footage:

    Equality shrugged             [zoom]
    Chart: Economic Policy Institute

    The most neoliberal states show the highest level of in- equality. Connecticut, whe- re you tax-advantageously incorporate your company, leads the pack, followed by the state that doesn't sle- ep.(bl)

    Friendly Freundel              [zoom]
    Photo: AP

    Rabbi Freundel too (see below) feels strongly about women.

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.


Hot Gas

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Halliburton fighting for your energy independence                Photo: Joshua Doubek/Wikipedia

There is a publicity campaign trying to present natural gas as a 'clean' alternative to coal.

Which is strange. Why would a nice professional woman make effort to distance her- self from the filles de joie?

One possibility of course is that she herself is a lady of the evening.

As it turns out she is. Natural gas—it can't be but wholesome, like the granola—today tends to mean gas from hydraulic fracturing of deep, gas-bearing strata of shale by the most brutal of means available to the petroleum industry. This to assure a brief pe- riod of production, following which the procedure has to be moved downrange and repeated in order to maintain the rate of flow. The roto-rooting halts when it hits the boundary of the reservoir.

The gas is the same gas with which your mother used to cook your breakfast, with the exception that it is anything but clean. After the entries in the debit column are added, it comes out as dirty as coal.

Two items stand out. One it the prodigious consumption of water which, after being mi- xed with a nasty cocktail of chemicals, gets injected under high pressure into the re- servoir bearing gas in order to force it to bubble up. This water becomes permanently unusable. Moreover, it migrates, finally seeping into aquifers supplying human consum- ption. The gas which mixes in adds a (stinky) fizz to what comes out of the tap.

Another elephant in the room which you are not supposed to see is that fracturing releases a lot of the gas it seeks into the atmosphere. Almost all of this gas is metha- ne which happens to be 70 times more greenhouse than carbon dioxide.

There is also an icing on this cake. Brine present in the subsurface strata pours to the surface during drilling rendering (together with the aforementioned chemicals) the soil unsuitable for use in agriculture. And the dust stirred by the heavy machinery and trucks moving back and forth makes life miserable to the local population.

Last year OPEC decided to twist the neck of the fracking industry. It increased the production of petroleum in order to suppress the price to a level which made many of the fracking operations unviable. Together with public's rising awareness of the environ- mental cost of the technique, it has prompted the sector to go on a charm offensive. That's what you are seeing on your telescreen.

Tragicomic Relief

Clear And Present Danger

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

ISIS “is expanding,” a State Department official wrote in a memo, “like Starbucks fran- chises.”"

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


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Barbarian at the gate                                                                     Photo: Amazon-Killer

Herman Melville memorably noted that the whale steak which Mr Starbuck was eating for a dinner was eaten by its own light. may soon be consumed with the aid of its own search engine. Since we don't like the way Amazon treats its people, we hope this comes about.

Always the spoilsports, the French have concocted a browser app, called Amazon-Killer, that uses Amazon's search engine to look for a book you are interested in. Once found, the app copies book's ISBN and passes it along to its own search engine to identify a suitable (never Amazon) supplier of the title. Then it conducts search for an independent associated bookshop near you where to deposit the work once you've decided to make the investment. Email informs you about the details of the transaction and the delivery time. Afterward, all that remains is to pop to the shop, say hello, and collect the goods.

For the moment, it works like this in France but we bet it will quickly work like this everywhere books are sold. As it is, Amazon is losing money. With the help of Amazon-Killer it should begin losing a whole lot more.

We wish to thank Libre-ère, a tiny independent bookshop on the boulevard de Ménil- montant in Paris (receiver of Killer's contraband) for making us aware of this deve- lopment.

Choices '16

Love For Sale

Friday, 5 June 2015

Only slightly soiled                                                                Photo: Michael Nagle/Getty

The Democrats have rolled out Hillary, legs first, back against a firm support. A $1,000 gets you a missionary. Fancier tricks begin at $2,700. The business is expe- cted to be brisk.


Les Lettres Grecques

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Speak, Wisdom                                                                 Image: Coat of Arms of Greece

At the end of March, on the eve of his visit to Berlin, Alexis Tsipras wrote a letter to Angela Merkel.

And that was it.

On the last day of May, Tsipras wrote a letter to the journal Le Monde. It is a historical document.


This Is Ground Control To Major Tom

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

"Come in, Tom"                                                                                       Photo: NASA

The other day we stumbled upon an article* which appeared in The Economist back in 2011. It explains in simplest terms the folly of the human space flight.

What it says is as fresh today as it was four years ago. Let's hope the extravaganza finally comes to an end.

*) Unless you are subscribed to TE, you will need to register to get to this piece. Don't hesitate.

Tragicomic Relief

A Strong Recommendation

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

An assistant pastor was shot by an Oklahoma highway patrol officer who claimed he was urging the man and his brother to abandon their stalled truck and seek higher ground.

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

Also Spricht  Klein

Capitalism vs. The Rest Of The World, Part 1

Friday, 29 May 2015

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

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

From Introduction, "One way or another, everything changes", p. 1,

"Most projections of climate change presume that future changes–greenhouse gas emissions, temperature increases and effects such as sea level rise–will happen incrementally. A given amount of emission will lead to a given amount of temperature increase that will lead to a given amount of smooth incremental sea level rise. However, the geological record for the climate reflects instances where a relatively small change in one element of climate led to abrupt chan- ges in the system as a whole. In other words, pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irre- versible changes that have massively disruptive and large-scale impacts. At that point, even if we do not add any more CO2 to the atmosphere , potentially unstoppable processes are set in motion. We can think of this as sudden cli- mate brake-and-steering failure where the problem and its consequences are no longer something we can control."

                     —Report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
                                                    the world's largest general scientific society, 2014

"I love that smell of the emissions."

                                                                                                —Sarah Palin, 2011

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

Tragicomic Relief

Trial And Error

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Financial regulators in Britain and the United States fined Barclays, JPMorgan Cha- se, Citigroup, the Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, and Bank of America nearly $6 billion after it was discovered that bankers conspired to set foreign-exchange rates in invi- tation-only online chat groups they named “the Cartel” and “the Mafia.” “If you ain’t cheating,” said one Barclays employee in a chat room, “you ain’t trying.”"

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

Editorial Comment

Having paid this modest licensing fee, the banks are of course free to resume busi- ness as usual.

Tired of hearing these stories, DD wishes to float the following modest proposal, implementing which, it believes, would focus the minds of the banks' managers: each time they get caught swindling, a portion of the bank's shares would get nationalized and offloaded as a single block at some surprise moment, while traders would be en- coureged (via tax breaks) to write options on the tenure longevity of the executive team members.


Reality 1, Prejudice 0

Monday, 25 May 2015

Refreshing                                                          Photo: Dwight Bourdette/Colgate-Palmolive

The Irish have extricated themselves from under the Church's thumb. This, having come by a referendum, is the strongest affirmation yet of the right to chose whom one marries. This puts them in the forefront of the struggle against obscurantism, and it is admirable. But there's more to be done. The Article 44 of the Irish Constitution says,

The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.

This will have to go, as will Church's meddling in the public-sector education. For the moment, the stunned Archbishop of Dublin says the Church has to pause and take a "reality check", and "not move into denial of the realities."

We drink a Guinness to that.

Postscriptum Archbishop Martin perhaps didn't realize that he affirmed that religion isn't about the immutable vox Dei laid once and forever in the holy writ but that it is about the vox populi expressed in the polling booth, to which the Church had better listen, and according to which it had better tweak its own dogma until it fits. This of course marks the end of religion.


Reforming Europe For Fun And Profit

Friday, 22 May 2015

Osby's got the reforms lined up for you                                                Photo: BBC News

Emboldened by the recent victory at the polls, Tories and their business base want to jump the European mothership and go it alone under the banner of neoliberalism. Not so long ago, when the depression was biting, they talked about hiding under the umbrella of the Eurozone. Try to mention it now.

They invoke the possibility of returning to the fold, but on the condition that Europe reform. They leave no doubt as to the meaning of this reform: further tightening of the screw on the lean-many, while relaxing any residual stress for the fat-few. That's about the size of the swinery. Just wait for Cameron to recycle Stephen Green of the HSBC infamy.

As BBC explains, the Chancellor George Osborne wants the UK "to be in Europe, but not run by Europe", that is, eat the cake and have it, adding that "Europe has priced itself out of the global economy". Yes, Mr Osborne, Chinese work hours, wages, and social protections should right this debilitating disequilibrium.

At a closed door pre-election meeting with oligarchs, Dubya once declared love to the billionaires when he said, "You are my constituency!". Today, Cameron and his junta are saying the same.

Little Brits should pay attention.

Tragicomic Relief


Thursday, 21 May 2015

At 10-year-old African-American boy who was maced at an anti–police-brutality protest in Minneapolis said he was grateful he hadn’t been shot”

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


Waco II

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The bullet goes there                                                                 Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP

Waco does it again.

In a sequel to the 1993 wipeout of 82 Branch Davidians, Waco hosts another extra- vaganza to result in a net gain to the human gene pool. Nine members of motorcycle gangs fall during a gunfight which, besides collateral damage to property, had left 18 injured.

We hope seriously.


Hersh Reality

Sunday, 17 May 2015

It was a dark and quiet night                                                      Photo: US Defence Dept.

Pakistan, to paraphrase Churchill, is a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Add to it a helping of good-old-American mendacity, and you've got yourself a quanda- ry cut out for a quantum computer. The snag is there isn't one.

LRB last week published a piece by Seymour Hersh giving his version of the events surrounding the 2011 raid by the American Navy Seals on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It is a lecarrésque read deliciously playing to the lust for dimi- nishing Obama. Coming from Hersh, it recommends itself. The idea for the raid, he explained, was to boost Obama's chances in the upcoming elections.

But cracks soon began to appear on the façade of the edifice, notably in the form of a too-high-for-comfort number of anonymous sources and unnamed 'high officials'. Then, the Intercept fielded a piece explaining that Hersh had been underscooped in 2011 by R.J. Hillhouse. Then on May 11, Vox published an exposé which left but smouldering debris on the ground. A chorus of government objectors followed, and on May 16 Le Monde delivered the knockout.

Pasture is calling, Mr Hersh.

Tragicomic Relief


Friday, 6 May 2015

It was reported that Israeli soldiers fired on civilians during Operation Protective Edge, a 2014 military operation in Gaza. "If it looks like a man," a soldier was reportedly told by his commander, "shoot."”

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


The M104

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Sombrero Galaxy

Often referred to a as M104 (for its number in the Messier Catalogue), the Sombrero Galaxy is one of the most photogenic objects in the sky. It contains about 100 billion stars, a portion of which make up the luminous haze inside the outer ring.

Distant 28 million light years from Earth in the direction of the Virgo constellation, the galaxy measures 50,000 light years across, one-half the size of the Milky Way. In the middle of the Sombrero Galaxy lies a black hole with a mass of a billion Suns.

People often refer to 'spirituality' when speaking about religion. To us, spirituality is the sight of the M104.

The photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, now beginning its 26th spring.

May Day

Mayday, Mayday...

May Day 2015

New Harmony (work suspended due to excessive labour cost.)          Painting by F. Bate

There is little to celebrate for the common man this May Day. Of the two bright lights on the dark horizon, Syriza and Podemos, one soldiers on under the assault from the banksters, the other isn't yet in power, and once there, will be facing the same struggle.

Meantime, with the aid of gadget makers and with eager collaboration from politicians who don't understand that lasting well-being of all depends on the well-being of the masses, surveillance has reached new levels of perfection, propelled by the mistaken belief that monitoring exorcises rebellion.

We wish all our Readers a pleasant May Day.


Beware of Greeks Bearing Bad News

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Photo: Ints Kalnins/Reuters                                                  "Prepare for pain, Pierre"  

Greece finds itself in dire straits.

Unlike its previous default, which stiffed private lenders, its next would have to stiff the European Central Bank, which also happens to be the source of all its future cash. Imagine setting fire to a bank you expect to loan you money you absolutely need in order to survive. But, theoretically, Greece could default on the ECB debt too, in fact, it may have to.

This, alas, wouldn't be the last of the bad news coming from the Hellenic Republic.

Alexis Tsipras has already declared that he would veto the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement currently being finalized (in secret) between the European Commission and the US. Since members of the EU must unanimously approve the text before it becomes law, a Greek no would scupper the deal.

Though billions are involved in the putative ECB default, politicians can be counted on to socialize the ensuing pain. Trillions are at play with the TAFTA deal and no amount of socializing would repair the colossal damage to the quarterly reports of the (mainly) American corporations. Greece might be a small country on the southeastern peri- phery of Europe, but, by the power of this veto, it can deliver a knockout.

Ejecting Greece from the EU before the vote on TAFTA would solve the problem, since it would deprive it of the vote on the matter and thus eliminate the danger of a veto. A psychological warfare in that direction has already begun. Ask yourself how many times lately you have heard the word "grexit" smugly uttered by the one-eyed apostles of the 'markets'.

DD would not shed a tear for TAFTA, believing it to be a dangerous and rotten deal, with strong totalitarian overtones, but we fear that the ever-hungry transnational capital would respond with extreme violence to a Greek veto, by, for example, staging a military coup d’État to install in Athens a fascist dictatorship. The memory of the last one may still be fresh to the more mature among the Readers.

Essential Reading

Like Father Like Son

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Long on the school tie, short on equality                                     Image: Harvard University

Deborah Friedell casts an eye on the egalitarian goings on at Harvard. We encou- rage the Reader to become a Viewer and see Lewis Lapham's film referred to in the Comments, as well as more locally here.

Freedom After Speech

Beware Of Jews Bearing Gifts

Saturday, 18 April 2015

"Welcome to the University of Illinois, B'nai B'rith willing"                             Photo: UIUC

You can't legislate what's seemly and what's unseemly", say experienced persons. In fact, a civil society can be recognized by the manner in which it protects unseemly expression.

But the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign begged to differ when it pulled the plug on a prof who quit a tenured position at the University of Virginia to take a similar post at UIUC, setting the poor chap adrift. The motive? His harsh criticism of the Israeli hooliganism in Gaza. His outbursts over Twitter tripped the sensors of the hyperactive American likudniks who immediately organized a hos- tile campaign, flooding the chancellor's office with threats of halting donations.

An article in The Nation (kindly forwarded by our Seattle correspondent) casts light on this outrage.

The career of a prof is gone with the wind. But the imbroglio brings to light a particular pitfall inherent in the private sponsorship of arts and education, and this may do some good. It is that a private donor's sudden change of heart, or financial condition, can rattle a public institution. This is what had happened to the Metropolitan Opera when Alberto Vilar's affairs went belly up.

Public financing of education and arts seems like the best bet to assure their stability. Given that private money never comes without strings attached, it should be outlawed.

Choices '16

Behold A 3-Dollar Bill

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

"Campaign reform, did you say?"                                                Photo: Steven Senne/AP

Clinton stages a farce in the blue-collar Iowa to launch her 2016 bid for the White House, choreography courtesy Madison Avenue. Many a chump will buy into the shtick. Others will opt for the Fox production. Guardian deconstructs the event.

Prise De Position

Harry Belafonte

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Marching in 1963 on Washington with Poitier and Heston       Photo: US Information Agency

The other day we stumbled on Jamaica Farewell, written by Lord Burgess, and sung in 1957 to a great success by Harry Belafonte.

The loveliness of the tune inspired us to dip into man's life and times. We've discovered among other things that in 2006 he went to see Hugo Chávez together with Danny Glover and Cornel West, and that this had elicited wrath from the opportunist and right-winger Hillary Clinton.

Essential Reading

The Full Sheep-Dip

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Abteilung MI5 HQ                                                                       Photo:C Ford/Wikipedia

Frances Stonor Saunders explains how the MI5 had hounded the historian Eric Hobsbawm during his entire life for belonging to the British Communist Party, and that by doing this it had unwittingly placed Britain on the same moral level as the Soviet Union, which it was ostensibly fighting.

Stonor Saunders' lively style makes for a gripping read, and her aristocratic pedigree adds spice to the dish.

Pretty Good Privacy

Strong Phrasing

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Safety in numbers                                                                   Photo: Diacritica/Wikipedia

The Intercept explains how to shrug a clapper off your back.



Saturday, 4 April 2015

Western Sahara on the horizon                                                     Photo: StAn/Wikipedia

We have added Sahrawi to the list of the countries we support (see bar above). We also support its claim to the Western Sahara, and reject the Moroccan. We condemn the enhanced interrogation of the Sahrawi fighters by the clappers of the king Mohammed VI, and condemn the European and American politicians who chum up to him and his billions.

Tragicomic Relief

By Bread Alone

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore and the leader of its People’s Action Party, which has ruled the city-state since it gained self-governance from Britain in 1959, died at the age of 91. President Barack Obama called Lee a “true giant of history,” UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon called him a “legendary figure,” and British prime minister David Cameron said he was Margaret Thatcher’s favorite prime minister. “We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists,” Lee, who was criticized for his intolerance of opposition, harsh punishment of minor infractions, and stringent restrictions on freedom of speech, once said. “As long as you are economically well off, with housing and food,” said an Indian man who lived in Singapore two decades ago and joined mourners gathered outside the building housing Lee’s remains, “who cares?”

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


Daily Detox At Two

Monday, 30 March 2015

Piff...!!                                                                                            Photo: Egitaniense

Time flies when you have fun, say experienced persons. So much so that we've mis- sed our second anniversary when it came and went at the beginning of March. Bubbly duly popped, we now wish ourselves and our readers health.

Debit Suisse

Shoot The Messenger

Friday, 27 March 2015 disconnecting them from taxes                                                         Photo: HSBC

In 2008, Hervé Falciani, software engineer with HSBC Private Bank (Suisse), handed the French fisc a CD documenting private and corporate tax evasion to the tune of €180bn. The optimization operations took place in Geneva and involved some 100,000 individual and 20,000 corporate offshore accounts.

But, fittingly for a world owned by the banks, it wasn't the evaders that got pursued but the whistle-blower Falciani, who had been thrown in jail in Switzerland and then in Spain. So far as the cheats, only Syriza looks determined to act. There is no real interest elsewhere, save perhaps for France, where Hollande has been trying to open a new revenue stream to fill up the state coffers. There are hopes that Pademos will follow the Greek example when it takes over after the next elections.

During the time Falciani was collecting the goods (2005-2007), HSBC Swiss was run by Stephen Green (Baron Green of Hurstpierpoint), an ordained Anglican priest who killed time on long flights writing sermons, presumably intended for the poor, who need them. For the services rendered to the rich, Cameron had rewarded Green with a post in the cabinet.

"This place belongs to us", quipped recently a lobbyist for the Citigroup referring to the US Congress. Except for Greece, European parliaments appear to have been spoken for too, though this may change if the Greek democratic disease spreads throughout Europe.

Let's hope for the best.


Beware Of Greeks Sending Letters

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

"Just look at the sky, my dear"                                                            Photo: Le Monde

Before flying to Berlin for pourparlers with Angie, Tsipras wrote her a letter explai- ning what it was he was after and why. It is a historical document of singular clarity and purpose, to be studied by anyone interested in statecraft.

It is hard to know of course how carefully it was read and whether it was understood. What is certain is that various people will be whispering into Angie's ear during his visit, none more than Wolfgang Schäuble, the minister of finance, a man whose crowning achievement was to prescribe austerity at the time when a Keynesian expansion was called-for, in addition to publicly insulting Greece and Portugal.

His advice should be discarded the moment it comes, better yet he should be put to pasture and required to read Keynes as a condition for receiving state pension, and writing a 100 times before breakfast, "'Christian Democracy' is an oxymoron". His previous achievements may have something to do with the fact that he boasts a doctorate in chartered accountancy.

Financial Times provides annotations to the Tsipras letter.

We thank our Munich correspondent for forwarding the links to the letter and the com- mentary from the FT.

Tragicomic Relief

Creflo A Dollar For A Gulfstream

Friday, 20 March 2015

Creflo A. Dollar, Jr., the Atlanta-area megachurch pastor and leader of World Chan- gers Church International, canceled a fundraising campaign to buy a $65 million Gulf- stream G650 private jet so he could “blanket the globe with the Gospel of grace.”

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

Tragicomic Relief

Clueless In Persia

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Forty-seven Republican senators signed an open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran explaining that Iranian officials might not “fully understand our consti- tutional system.”

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

Bibi Watch

In Performance

Friday, 6 March 2015

"Greetings boehneheads!"                                                                        Photo: Getty

Exploiting the stupidity of the Republicans, Binyamin Netanyahu had staged a one-man show on the centre stage of the American Congress, where he insinuated himself with the aid of the Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). The farce featured the Islamic Republic as the protagonist bent on taking over the Middle East and posing an immediate existential threat to Israel on the account of its possession of nuclear weapons.

The gig was such a triumph that even the Saudis had sent flowers. Never mind the absence of the weapons, and the fact that IS is an Israeli-American creation.

The awkward emptiness of the royal box seemed to have gone unnoticed, as did that of the viceroy. The foreign minister, for his part, was absent too, engaged in pour- parlers with the devil himself in Geneva.

So, what was Bibi's angle?

His own interests, of course. With the opinion polls sagging just two weeks before the legislative elections, he needed a political boost. And what could provide a nicer back- drop for an ad than the chamber of the United States Congress?

Bibi's initiative just happened to coincide with Boehner's own itch to stick one to Obama, and why not do it with someone else's hands? Bibi had another strong motive: he wanted to take revenge on the President for cutting him off from the pro- gress briefings on the Geneva talks. (The White House didn't want Bibi to exploit the inside information for the benefit of his campaign, which he surely would have.)

His mendacity, alas, had an effect he could have hardly foreseen: it quickly reduced the differences between the negotiating parties, and elicited some optimistic state- ments from both sides.

Leaving the euphoria of uncertain authenticity behind, Bibi is returning to Tel Aviv to face an even more uncertain political future. A massive anti-himself rally on Tel Aviv's Rabin Square planned for this Saturday, featuring two former Mossad chiefs, Meir Dagan and Amiram Levin as speakers, is a preview of the coming attractions.

Tragicomic Relief

Mother Is Always Right

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Boris Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister of Russia who was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, was fatally shot four times on a bridge near the Kremlin. Nemtsov, who was recently asked by a reporter if he feared Putin might kill him, had said he was “somewhat worried, but not as seriously as my mother.”

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

Tragicomic Relief

Be More Like A Sheep

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

As people across the world celebrated the 2015 Lunar New Year, whose title tran- slates in English as both Year of the Goat and Year of the Sheep, Hong Kong’s chief executive urged pro-democracy protestors in the country to “take inspiration from the sheep’s character.”

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

Free Expression

"Journal irresponsable"

Monday, 23 February 2015

"Let the sport commence!"                                                            Image: Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo releases its second post-attack issue. The cover assembles some of its favourite personalities: Marine Le Pen shown as a pit bull, Sarko as a nasty little poodle, Catholic Church as itself, and the jihadists also as themselves. The chase's afoot.

Debit Suisse

Happy On The Alp

Friday, 20 February 2015 disconnecting them from taxes                                                         Photo: HSBC

Two years ago we reported on HSBC's expeditions to France to woo rich depositors suffering from aversion to taxes. With politicians looking the other way, HSBC has since added new financial optimization products to its portfolio of services aiming at subtracting from the oligarchic contribution to the government revenue stream. LRB's Glen Newey gives it a closer look, commencing thusly,

Austeritarian politics minds less about balancing the books than cutting the state. It aims to bear down on public spending but also distrusts tax, particularly on the well-off.  Austeritarians bang on about the debt while failing to plug revenue holes.


Essential Reading

  (Essential Viewing
  (Essential Listening→

NEW: 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 for 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

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