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Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection

Qatar has been making waves for some weeks now, and in the deluge, it has also strung along a few companions. One is the UK bank Barclays, which prided itself for having avoided a government bailout in the financial crisis of 2008.  In the ensuing chest thumping, executives could claim to have spared the British taxpayer the need to fork out for private deals gone wrong.

In a statement by the bank, it was revealed that the UK Serious Fraud Office had filed charges “in the context of Barclays’ capital raisings in June and November 2008.” The statement from the …

Trump Torpedoes Europe’s Far Right

As far as Europe’s far right is concerned, Trump is a loser.

He is the nemesis of an intensifying European far right movement that has suddenly turned sour. Like the Black Plague of mid-14th century Europe, whatever happens, stay away from him! Poll numbers as well as voting for far right candidates throughout Europe drop with a hair-trigger when candidates associate with Trump.

Conversely, Trump may be the best that ever happened to establishment policies, like neoliberalism. Unwittingly, he’s pulling neoliberalism out of a very deep hole; i.e., a failure to perform for the public at large both economically and socially. As …

Films to Chew on

Why does gratuitous violence also attract the "compatible Left"?

For years there have been two films from Hollywood that have drawn innumerable fans, especially among the “cultivated” (compatible) Left. These are Aliens with Sigourney Weaver and The Silence of the Lambs with Anthony Hopkins and Jody Foster. I have had to endure excerpts but have never been able to overcome the revulsion in order to actually sit through either film in its entirety. This was, of course, long before I recognised that I cannot watch “war films” anymore either, although I grew up on a steady fare of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and all the other usual suspects who …

Grenfell Tower Fire: Corporate Manslaughter in London

A massive fire engulfed Grenfell Tower in the early hours of June 14th. Grenfell Tower is a 24-storey building of public housing flats in the North Kensington area of London. Over 600 people were believed to be inside the building and there are fears that the death toll, currently at 58, will rise to over a 100. This incident generated a wave of public anger over ignored safety warnings, an inadequate response from authorities, and most of all about the (housing) policies that safeguard …

Jerusalem, Nicosia and WW3

Cypriot press reported last week on a large joint Israeli-Cypriot military drill.

The following Israeli video publicises an elite Israeli commando brigade engaged in aggressive military routines around Cyprus’ Troodos Mountain range.

How did this came about? How did the Cypriots, who are known to support the Palestinian cause, become a province of the Israeli empire?

An Israel-Europe gas pipeline deal is the answer.

In the beginning of April we learned about a proposed 2,000 kilometer subsea pipeline connecting gas fields located offshore in Gaza …

Another Unsolvable Issue for Americans

Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States

The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) under the brand UNICORE operates approximately 52 factories (prisons) across the United States. Prisoners manufacture or assemble a number of products for the US military, homeland security, and federal agencies according to the UNICORE/FPI website.  They produce furniture, clothing and circuit boards in addition to providing computer aided design services and call center support for private companies.

UNICORE/FPI makes its pitch for employing call center support personnel to firms thinking about off-shoring their call center functions. The logic is that, hey!, they may be prisoners, but it’s keeping the jobs in the USA that matters. …

“Would you like a drink of water?”

Please Ask a Yemeni Child

This week, in New York City, representatives from more than100 countries will begin collaborating on an international treaty, first proposed in 2016, to ban nuclear weapons forever. It makes sense for every country in the world to seek a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons. It would make even more sense to immediately deactivate all nuclear weapons. But, by boycotting and disparaging the process now underway, the U.S. and other nuclear armed nations have sent a chilling signal. They have no intention of giving up the power to explode, burn and annihilate planetary life. “The United States is spending $1 …

Beyond “No” and the Limits of “Yes”

A review of Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need

Naomi Klein understands that President Donald J. Trump is a problem, but he is not the problem.

In her new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trumps Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, Klein reminds us to pay attention not only to the style in which Trump governs (a multi-ring circus so routinely corrupt and corrosive that anti-democratic practices seem normal) but in whose interests he governs (the wealthy, those he believes to be the rightful winners in the capitalist cage match), while recognizing the historical forces that make …

Trustworthy, loyal, obedient, clean and reverent…

The Hotel Tacloban by Douglas Valentine

“I’ll never forget that day—it was the day of his mother’s funeral. I’d heard the news of Kennedy’s death on the TV and I’d gone into the living room, where the adults were consoling one another, to let everyone know. I was fourteen at the time and the first person I told was my grandfather, who didn’t hear a word I said, and who, when I repeated myself, pulled away from me and said, ‘I don’t care.’ Next I told my father the awful news, ‘Dad’ I said excitedly, ‘The President’s been shot and they got the guy who did

It’s All in the Timing

Although I voted for the Labour Party in the recent general election, I’m not disappointed they didn’t win the thing. The explanation for this apparent contradiction is easy to see.

Britain is a mess – the inevitable consequence of almost forty years of capitalist “austerity”. And as a direct consequence of thirty years of craven, mostly illegal warmongering in the Middle East and North Africa, we have helped the US create the worst global refugee crisis since WW2, and fashion a monster in the shape of Islamic terrorism that now stalks the streets of Britain. Add to all this the fact …

Qatar Today, Saudi Arabia Tomorrow?

As the world watches the rapid transformation of Qatar from wealthy trusted ally in the West’s War on Terror and host to US CENTCOM, the most important US overseas military installation, to having President Trump declare Qatar “… historically being a funder of terrorism at a very high level”, the bigger question is whether Saudi Arabia is next.

All the elements are there. Qatar, for all its pretensions, is small potatoes. Saudi Arabia has for decades provided the ideological foundation and generous funding for terrorism. When President Trump accused Qatar of supporting “extremist ideology” and funding for terrorism he …

Election Backlash is About More than Gloating

Guardian columnist John Harris, like a lot of liberal journalists at the moment, is moving rapidly out of a brief interlude of atonement for so badly misjudging the outcome of the UK’s recent election to a sense of resentment. Those of us who held firm against the media doomsayers over the past two years – rejecting their predictions of a Labour rout under its leader Jeremy Corbyn – are being accused of triumphalism.

In Harris’ words:

Haters, doubters and sceptics have been rounded on. Journalists with any history of disbelief or hostility should apparently resign or be sacked. Labour

Puppet of History: Panama’s Manuel Noriega

Bush appeared on television to praise the invading troops and to say his cowardly vision – all that a wimp with an inferiority complex could be capable of.

— Manuel Noriega on George H. W. Bush

The late General Manuel Antonio Noriega has done more to demonstrate the bipolar nature of US foreign policy in the Americas than any single, historically anointed individual. In its tendency to veer between outraged morality and cynical cold steel Realpolitik, US foreign policy found in Noriega a thermometer of sorts, though the temperature readings were often confused.

When it suited Washington, Noriega was the CIA’s man in …

Two-Fisted Democracy Power Revisited

Slightly over a year ago I went on record claiming that America was an “endangering and endangered ruination” with ruinous domestic conditions and destructive and deadly international interventions all stemming from her “corpocracy,” the “Devil’s Marriage” between big corporations and government.

America remains on course for oblivion and taking the rest of the world with her sometime later this century unless her corpocracy is ended …

Oddly, Labor Unions Seem to Be the Only Answer

Question:  What do the most “successful” countries in the world—i.e., the “happiest,” fairest, most enlightened, most optimistic, and most generous—have in common?  Answer:  The majority of them have quasi-socialist governments/economies, and highly unionized labor forces.

Actually, there’s a third commonality as well.  Unlike the U.S., they are unburdened by a bloated and debilitating military budget—an advantage that permits them to treat medical care as a “right” rather than a “privilege,” and to offer free college tuition to those who wish to attend, working off the premise that an educated electorate is an “investment,” not a “luxury.”

In the 2016 Democratic Primary, when …

Truth-free, Fact-free Foreign Policy

Lies, distortions and self-serving obfuscations are to be expected when political and business leaders discuss far away places.

In a recent Toronto Star column Rick Salutin observed that “foreign policy is a truth-free, fact-free zone. When leaders speak on domestic issues, citizens at least have points of reference to check them against. On foreign affairs they blather freely.”

Salutin vividly captures an important dynamic of political life. What do most Canadians know about our government’s actions in Afghanistan or Haiti? Most of us have never been to those countries and …

To Wake in Fright

A film review

What is inescapable in the Australian landscape is its cosmic character, one that mixes suggestively astral dust with the brilliance of the blinding sun. Desolate, parched earth becomes poetic affirmation, though it is the poetry of death and distraction, its stanzas luring the life from you.

Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright (1971), based on the Kenneth Cook novel of the same name, still retains that grim sense of the life that is drawn out in such spaces, and left to expire, slowly.  Its importance has been given another airing this year with the efforts of Australian film critic David Stratton …

Feed the Hungry, Treat the Sick: A Crucial Training

On June 15, 2017, the New York Times reported that the government of Saudi Arabia aims to ease the concerns of some U.S. legislators over U.S. weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis plan to engage in “a $750 million multiyear training program through the American military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.” Since entering the war in Yemen, in March of 2015, the Saudi coalition’s airstrikes, with U.S. assistance, have destroyed bridges, roads, factories, farms, food trucks, animals, water infrastructure, and agricultural banks across …

From Pseudo-Democracy to Real Participation

Imagine a country run along truly democratic lines. In such a mythical land, what would be the role of the politician, and the nature of his or her relationship with that amorphous group paraded under the banner: ‘the people’?

We in pseudo-democratic countries hear a lot about politicians serving and honouring the ‘will of the people’ – in Britain this nauseating slogan of appeasement has been repeated ad infinitum since the disastrous European referendum vote – but from where does the supposed conviction of the masses arise? Does it evolve from independent minds tussling with questions of justice and freedom, debating and …

The Breaking of the Corporate Media Monopoly

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn humbled the entire political and corporate media commentariat. With a little help from Britain’s student population. And with a little help from thousands of media activists.

Without doubt this was one of the most astonishing results in UK political history. Dismissed by all corporate political pundits, including the clutch of withered fig leaves at the Guardian, reviled by scores of his own Blairite MPs (see here), Corbyn ‘increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other of the party’s election leaders since 1945′ …