The Gaza Violence: How Extremism Corrupts

By David Brooks* – The New York Times

As you know, everybody sees the Middle East through his or her own narrative. Conservatives see it through the “front line in the war on terror” narrative and defend Israel’s actions on the Gaza border fence this week. Progressives see it through the “continued colonialist oppression” narrative and condemn those actions.

I see the situation through the “extremism corrupts everybody” narrative. My narrative starts with the idea that the creation of the state of Israel was a historic achievement involving a historic wrong — the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians.

Continue reading


by John Scales Avery *

I would like to announce the publication of a new book entitled “The Information Explosion”. This book discusses the role of information in evolution, and especially in the evolution of human culture. Articles and book chapters that I have previously written on this subject are incorporated in the text in modified forms, but more than half of the material is new. The book may be freely downloaded and circirculated from the following link:

Reeformed teaching of history

Human nature has two sides: It has a dark side, to which nationalism and militarism appeal; but our species also has a genius for cooperation, which we can see in the growth of culture. Our modern civilization has been built up by means of a worldwide exchange of ideas and inventions. It is built on the achievements of many ancient cultures. China, Japan, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, the Islamic world, Christian Europe, and the Jewish intellectual traditions all have contributed. Potatoes, corn, squash, vanilla, chocolate, chilli peppers, and quinine are gifts from the American Indians.

Continue reading

Art of the Deal: Is Kim Jong Un Beating Trump at His Own Game?

Analysis  by Bill Powell* – Newsweek

For years, he’s been seen as a naïf or a madman. But what if Kim Jong Un is the smartest guy in the room?

In early 2012, a few months after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was buried in an elaborate state ­funeral, I found myself in the Pyongyang office of a man named James Kim. He’s an evangelical Christian, a veteran of the Korean War and a former political prisoner in North Korea. He is also the founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which is how he met Kim Jong Il. As we spoke, James talked about attending the funeral and how he encountered the Dear Leader’s son, a portly 29-year-old named Kim Jong Un.

Continue reading

Peace is war in Myanmar

By David Scott Mathieson*  –  Asia Times

It is becoming obvious government’s peace process is really cover to sustain conflict and sow divisions among ethnic armed groups

As Myanmar security officials surrounded peaceful anti-war protestors in Yangon on May 12, dispersing a small gathering and arresting eight, the clampdown demonstrated more than just the persistence of the nation’s police state mentality.

The activists took to the streets to protest the wars raging across the country, especially in the northern Kachin state where thousands of displaced civilians are trapped between government air strikes and heavy artillery and the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Continue reading

The Gaza Fence That Separates the Brave From the Cowardly

Amira Hass – Haaretz, Tel Aviv (*)

What is cowardice if not the decision to kill masses of unarmed detainees who are demonstrating against their prolonged imprisonment?

–Why is Israel using lethal force against the protesters of Gaza? 

— Jerusalem celebrates, Tel Aviv parties and Gaza bleeds – a surreal 24 hours 

 –Why the West Bank is so quiet when blood is flowing in Gaza

In the Gaza Strip the border fence separates the brave from the cowardly. It separates those armed with empty hands, kites and burning tires from a military power and its soldiers. It separates detainees serving a life sentence from their wardens.

Continue reading

Trade War: How Tensions Have Risen Between China, the EU and the US

Posted  by Yves Smith* – Naked Capitalism

Yves here. This post includes a very helpful timeline of trade tit for tat so far. There are also four diagrams that show trade flow impacts of various proposed tariff measures. You might want to go to the Bruegel post proper and view them there because they are interactive and I could not pull an interactive version over.

By Francesco Chiacchio, Research Assistant at Bruegel. He was a trainee at the European Central Bank, working on projects related to productivity, Global Value Chains and technology diffusion, export intensity, and credit allocation, as well as on macroeconomic projections. Originally published at Bruegel

Continue reading

A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem

By Michelle Goldberg* – The New York Times

On Monday, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other leading lights of the Trumpist right gathered in Israel to celebrate the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture widely seen as a slap in the face to Palestinians who envision East Jerusalem as their future capital.

The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don’t convert will burn forever.

Continue reading

A precarious environment for the Rohingya refugees

By United Nations Environment Programme

Andrea Dekrout is Senior Environmental Coordinator for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Based in Geneva, Dekrout is responsible for ensuring sustainable environmental management in UNHCR operations and refugee camps. In her work, she helps refugees and their host communities maintain a clean and healthy environment. We sat down with her to discuss the situation in Cox’s Bazar, a coastal city that has recently seen an enormous influx of refugees.

Continue reading

How Jerusalem Went From Hosting 16 Embassies to Zero

David B. Green* –, Israel

The U.S. and a handful other nations are moving their embassies to Jerusalem. But in the past, other countries – including Chile, the Netherlands and Kenya – sent ambassadors to the city, and then left it

Some confusion followed President Trump’s December 6, 2017, announcement that he intended to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For example, Trump’s secretary of state at the time, Rex Tillerson, soon remarked that the move would not be happening in the near future, almost certainly not before the end of Trump’s first term as president, that is, by January 2021. Tillerson himself was soon out of a job, though not before signing off, in late February, on a plan to move the embassy, at least symbolically, to the capital on May 14.

Continue reading

On Iran and Trump, India Has Landed Between a Rock and a Hard Place

By Manoj Joshi* – The Wire, India

If India aspires to be a ‘leading power’, it may soon have to choose between its strategically autonomous goals, and those which the Trump administration has in mind for the region.

For some years now, India has liked to think of itself as a “leading power” rather than simply a “balancing power”.  But if the Modi government’s response to Donald Trump reneging on the Iran nuclear deal is anything to go by, India may find itself being classed among the craven powers.

Continue reading

US faces European backlash against Iran sanctions

Patrick Wintour* – The Guardian 

Senior politicians says Europe will consider countermeasures to keep trading with Iran

Europe is prepared to introduce measures to nullify the effect of Donald Trump imposing sanctions on any non-US firm that continues to do business with Iran, the French government has said.

The warning from the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, suggests Trump’s proposals to corral Europe into joining US foreign policy on Iran may lead to a severe backlash by EU firms and politicians, especially advocates of a stronger independent European foreign policy.

Continue reading

What Keeps Xi Jinping Awake at Night

By Chris Buckley and Paul Mozur (*) – The New York Times

BEIJING — As the leader of the world’s most populous country and biggest communist party, China’s president, Xi Jinping, has plenty to worry about, and a new book sheds light on what probably keeps him up at night.

The recently released 272-page book of Mr. Xi’s remarks on “national security” includes previously unreleased comments that give a starker view of the president’s motivations than found in most Communist Party propaganda. Here is a selection.

Continue reading

Europe, Again Humiliated by Trump, Struggles to Defend Its Interests

By Steven Erlanger* — The New York Times

BRUSSELS — It is by now a familiar, humiliating pattern. European leaders cajole, argue and beg, trying to persuade President Trump to change his mind on a vital issue for the trans-Atlantic alliance. Mr. Trump appears to enjoy the show, dangling them, before ultimately choosing not to listen.

Instead, he demands compliance, seemingly bent on providing just the split with powerful and important allies that China, Iran and Russia would like to exploit.

Continue reading

The UN and #MeToo: The Saga of Abuse Must End, Once and for All

By Loraine Rickard-Martin, PassBlue*

NEW YORK, May 10 2018 (IPS) – For many years now, media attention on sexual abuse and exploitation by United Nations peacekeepers cornered the UN and pushed it toward reform. Now, the #MeToo movement has put the organization — and many other major institutions across the world — on red alert.

But UN insiders and supporters are wondering if the leadership’s rush to action in the last few months augurs real change or is mere window dressing after decades of neglecting the problem. Some people see an opportunity for the UN to recognize that its separation of sexual harassment from sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA) allows perpetrators to get away with impunity.

Continue reading

Trump Withdraws From the Nuclear Deal With Iran

By James W. Carden* – The Nation

Has decision puts US national security at risk while handing a long-sought victory to Netanyahu and the Israel lobby.

President Donald J. Trump announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU.

In so doing, Trump is putting US national-security interests at grave risk, all while alienating our closest allies and making the US appear as a rogue state in the eyes of the world.

Continue reading

How Do You Attain “Sustainable Peace” Amidst Rising Military Conflicts?

By Thalif Deen*

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, May  2018 (IPS) – The underlying message at the fifth annual Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development was summed up in its telling title “The politics of peace.”

But the task ahead was overwhelmingly difficult: How do you advance peace and development against the backdrop of political unrest in parts of Asia and Africa and continued conflicts in the Middle East— all of them amidst rising global military spending triggering arms sales running into billions of dollars.

Continue reading

What is the Iran nuclear deal and why does Trump want to scrap it?

Saeed Kamali Dehghan * – The Guardian

US president has until 12 May to make a decision on 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

Iran and a six-nation negotiating group reached a landmark agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in July 2015. It ended a 12 years of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Struck in Vienna after nearly two years of intensive talks, the deal limited the Iranian programme to reassure the rest of the world that it would be unable to develop nuclear weapons, in return for sanctions relief.

Continue reading

Is Marx Still Relevant?

PETER SINGER* – Project Syndicate

On the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth on May 5, 1818, it isn’t far-fetched to suggest that his predictions have been falsified, his theories discredited, and his ideas rendered obsolete. So why should we care about his legacy in the twenty-first century?

MELBOURNE – From 1949, when Mao Zedong’s communists triumphed in China’s civil war, until the collapse of the Berlin Wall 40 years later, Karl Marx’s historical significance was unsurpassed. Nearly four of every ten people on earth lived under governments that claimed to be Marxist, and in many other countries Marxism was the dominant ideology of the left, while the policies of the right were often based on how to counter Marxism.

Continue reading

Saving the Sacred Cow. Yanis Varoufakis’s vision for a more democratic Europe.

By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian* – The Nation

The idea of a unified Europe didn’t always elicit the current mixture of exasperation, boredom, and rage, in politicians and ordinary people alike. In fact, there was a time when the European Union seemed like a great initiative, especially on a continent ravaged first by two hot wars, then broken in half by a cold one. A permanent peace between neighboring nations founded on a common market and sealed with freedom of movement for all might have required bureaucratic impositions, but it also functioned as an insurance policy. Besides, there was something for everyone in this new idea of Europe. Students, through Erasmus programs, learned new languages and made friends in foreign countries. Blue-collar workers could go abroad for better jobs. Manufacturers could import and export goods with no fees and less paperwork. Children of the European elite found positions in Strasbourg and Brussels. Billionaires no longer had to worry about the power of their country’s home currency while vacationing in Courchevel or Monaco.

Continue reading

Who Are These Economists, Anyway?

by James K. Galbraith* 

Of course, there were exceptions to these trends: a few economists challenged the assumption of rational behavior, questioned the belief that financial markets can be trusted and pointed to the long history of financial crises that had devastating economic consequences. But they were swimming against the tide, unable to make much headway against a pervasive and, in retrospect, foolish complacency.Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 6, 2009


While normal ecclesiastic practice places this word at the end of the prayer, on this occasion it seems right to put it up front. In two sentences, Professor Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate in Economics for 2008 and in some ways the leading economist of our time, has summed up the failure of an entire era in economic thought, practice, and policy discussion.

Continue reading