html clock


    A sermon on the mount too far
    Photo: AFP/Miri Tsachi      [zoom]

    Knife fell out of the teeth of a prominent knife-in-the- teeth American likudnik, rabbi Yehuda Glick, after he got shot by a motor- cycle assailant on the Temple Mount in Jeru- salem. It may have had something to do with his proposal to raze Islam's third holiest of holies, the al-Aqsa mosque, to erect in its place the "Third" Temple, the Second having succumbed to a Roman re-zoning project 2,000 years ago. In the local tra- dition, we hope the good rabbi will look on the bright side of life.

    Sneak attack on America  [zoom]
    Photo: Surveillance camera

    A nutty new convert to Is- lam takes on two New York cops with an axe, to be immediately dispatched to his new maker. The as- sault is proclaimed to be terrorism, thus providing a casus belli to attack Iran.

    "Do like the Irish"
    Photo: Romy Bonitz/ifo

    Our Munich correspondent forwards this video featuring the renowned German eco- nomist Hans-Werner Sinn speaking at the Peterson Institute in Washington. Whether one agrees or not with his diagnoses and pre- scriptions, it is well worth hearing him out. Equally in- teresting are the comments from Fred Bergsten and Adam Posen which follow.

    Lively in front of the Met   [zoom]
    Photo: AFP

    Zionists protested loudly in front of the Met against Peter Gelb's giving (a so- mewhat) equal time to the Palestinan cause. LRB ex- plains.

    Casta diva                         [zoom]
    Photo: unknown photographer

    Maria Callas sings Sola, perduta, abbandonata from Puccini's Manon Lescaut. Tulio Serafin conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra on a newly remastered set of 69 Callas CDs from War- ner Classics.

    Spot a binge                      [zoom]
    Graph: The Economist

    China has been borrowing like there were no tomorrow. Such rate of borrowing may be sustainable in a rich eco- nomy but invites a crash in a poor one like China. The Economist explains.

    Pure et lumineuse             [zoom]
    Photo: AFP/Le Monde

    Marie Dubois, who starred in many New Wave films, died the other day at the age of 77. In this charming screen test footage for the Shoot The Piano Player, Truffaut asks for her best swearing like a fish wife.

    Rake's progress                [zoom]
    Graph: CDC/Wikipedia

    What a difference a year makes. The graph shows the growth in chikungunya cases in the Western He- misphere since 2013.

    Not so wicked after all
    Photo: Eon Productions

    The revenge of Hai Fat.

    The dendritic IS                 [zoom]
    Chart: The Economist

    Obama is working hard to have his own Middle East fiasco. The Economist has an excellent summary of the unfolding disaster in Iraq and Syria.

    Stormy weather in the Rhineland
    Photo: Wikipedia

    In early September per- ceptive observers signaled a worsening outlook for the German economy. What was barely visible on the horizon then, appears to have arrived now, first tou- ching exports, as predicted.

    But not before you pay their taxes
    Photo: Reuters/R. Wilking   [zoom] runs afoul of the EU anti-competition laws for having cut a sweet- heart deal with Luxem- bourg aimed at avoiding paying taxes. Apple in Ire- land, and Starbucks in Holland have run into simi- lar troubles.

    The holes will become bigger
    Photo: Wikipedia

    By a majority of 61.9% the Swiss have rejected the ini- tiative to socialize their ex- pensive private medical in- surance system.

    Marriage in Venice            [zoom]
    Photo: BBC News

    The American film actor George Clooney and the British barrister Amal Ala- muddin emerged from the Palazzo Cavalli—Venice's town hall—as man and wife. Ladies everywhere were ex- cited and bells rang. The event reminded the Editor his own marriage at the ve- nue six years ago. He wi- shes the couple happiness.

    IS and ISn't                        [zoom]
    Chart: Le Monde

    A picture, say experienced persons, is worth a 1000 words. The chart above shows what's whose in Iraq and Syria, replacing the flood of words with concrete information. The legend go- es like this: red, oil fields held by IS; green, those not held by IS; violet, land held by IS; pale violet, zo- nes of recurrent attacks by IS.

    The holes used to be smaller
    Photo: Wikipedia

    The Swiss, whose private medical insurance is the third most expensive in the world (after that of the US and Norway), and compli- cated, vote this Sunday on whether to socialize it.

    Unbeatable, till now          [zoom]
    Photo: KHanger

    A sweet moment for the Windows geeks, forever the butt of derision from the UNIX nerds (including the Editor during his stint at Digital's UNIX Division), as a serious, easily exploita- ble, bug, aptly called Shel- lshock, is discovered in the Ba shell of the latter. This is alarming, since nearly all world's important infrastruc- ture relies on UNIX-propel- led machines owing to their reliability and security. A patch is undoubtedly on the way.

    Gone too                            [zoom]
    Photo: Marco Borggreve

    In a continuing turmoil at the Vienna State Opera, Bertrand de Billy follows in the footsteps of Franz Welser-Möst to storm out of the venerable house. Our Vienna correspondent spe- culates that if this conti- nues, Dominique Meyer, current director, will have to invest in a baton and step into the pit to conduct the orchestra.

    Eat this spicy curry           [zoom]
    Image: ISRO

    In a shameful display of po- litical point scoring, Indian rocketeers put Mangalya- an, their first foray into deep space, into a crude, highly elliptical orbit around Mars, thus reaching mis- sion's primary goal "to show China".

    You relax, we drive          [zoom]
    Photo: NASA

    SpaceX flawlessly delivers a load of supplies to the ISS on board the Dragon capsule launched on Sun- day from the government facility at Cape Canaveral on top of the Falcon 9 rocket. The mission was controlled from the unam- biguously located "SpaceX Galactic (no less) Head- quarters in Hawthorne, CA, Earth", in case you won- dered if it was not by chan- ce Hawthorne, CA, Jupiter. Note the contractor is not allowed to dock its vehicle to the Station. The manoe- uvre is performed by the Station personnel using a robotic arm.

    PM 2.5 in the GDP
    Graph New Climate Economy

    Mortality from pollution was costing China more than 11% of its GDP in 2010. Today's figure is unknown, but sure to be higher. Germany's figure was 6%. Since then it switched from the clean nuclear to the super-dirty coal power ge- neration, so that figure is bound to go up too. The Economist looks at the cost of all this.

    Dust devils                        [zoom]
    Image: BICEP2

    Planck weakens BICEP. Data from the European Planck satellite undercut the claim by the US BI- CEP2 team to the effect that the polarization of the light observed by it at the South Pole was due to the gravitational ripple in space- time engendered by the in- flation of the early Universe.

    Yankee diva                      [zoom]
    Photo: Erato

    Joyce DiDonato puts out a new CD, Stella di Napoli. Scroll down one page from here to find three picks from the same.

    Space, but not X                [zoom]
    Image: Boeing

    Two cold shoulders for the Elonian rocketeering. One, NASA's slim award to Spa- ceX for future work, two, USAF's serious skepticism about Musk's ability to se- cure requisite certification before the bidding for the AF launches. NASA has been peeved at SpaceX for the iffy launches and nume- rous snags, which the AF too was bound to notice. The pay-per-cheer press, which has been taking for granted the superiority of the private rocketeering over the old'n musty gov job, is noticeably taken aback by the travails of their dar- ling free-enterprising (on go- vernment grants) free-lan- cer.

    Murder in Park Lane         [zoom]
    Photo: Wikipedia

    A touch of headache for the Sultan of Brunei, whose su- per-swank Dorchester Col- lection hotels are being in- creasingly boycotted, if not by the super-rich, who don't boycott, then by the famo- us, some of whom do. The spat is over the sharia law which the good sultan saw fit to impose on his oil-soa- ked kingdom, calling for kil- ling of the gay and for whip- ping of the avorteuse. The ladies of the jury for the Prix Femina have fired the latest salvo noisily cancel- ling reservation at the Hôtel Meurice, where the next prix was to be announced.

    The möst                            [zoom]
    Photo: Roger Mastroianni

    To the chagrin of our Vien- na correspondent, the con- ductor Franz Welser-Möst has quit the Vienna State Opera over disagreements with the artistic director Do- minique Meyer. Our cor- respondent none the less invokes the possibility of future cooperation between the two on an opera-by- opera basis.

    Friends helping friends
    Photo: Reuters

    NSA has been illegally pas- sing to Israel intercepted communications between US citizens, reveals Snow- den. Our Seattle corres- pondent forwards this report from YahoO! News.

    Partially Lord's own
    Photo: USAF

    Under threat of a law suit (see below), the US Air Force backpedals to allow airmen to omit the "so help me God" phrase from the oath they take upon en- rollment. That's better, but still far from good. Religion should have no place in the business of the govern- ment. [Thanks to our Sea- ttle correspondent for kee- ping us abreast of this im- broglio.]

    Rough coastline                [zoom]
    Photo: ESA

    Trickier than expected lan- ding awaits Philae, a small probe which is to land in a few days on the surface of the comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a 30 km descent from its mother- ship, the European Rosetta spacecraft orbiting the bo- dy. It will be the first ever landing of a man-made ob- ject on the surface of a comet. The weight of the 100 kg Philae will be 10 grams.

    Lord's own               Photo: USAF
    230 years of state and chu- rch separation culminates in the US Air Force requi- ring airmen to swear to God, or to look for a job elsewhere. Thanks to our Seattle correspondent for forwarding the item.

    More blue now          Image: AFP
    Rare goodnews on the en- vironmental front: the ozone layer seems to be reco- vering as the result of the ban on chlorinated hydro- carbons imposed by the 1997 Montreal protocol. Unfortunately, there's also this.

    Plastic fantastic                [zoom]
    Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

    The noted American loud- mouth, Joan Rivers, died the other day at the age of 183 while undergoing her 745th plastic surgery at the B'nai B'rith Hospital in New York. She won't be missed by her daughter, Melissa, whom she had groomed to take over the family hand- bag and shoe business. Hordes converged on the Big Apple to pay respect to the alien.

    Binary geography              [zoom]
    Image: Gov. of Canada

    Canadian diplomats issue a handy map showing what is Russia and what is not. It is to help the Red Army find its bearings in the un- charted tribal regions of ea- stern Ukraine.

    Now darling, imagine he's an A-rab
    Photo: BBC                        [zoom]

    How does a nine-year old get an Uzi in her hands?", asks the reporter, to which she receives an irrelevant answer. But we know. It's by the idiocy of her pa- rents.

    An orbit too far                  [zoom]
    Image: ESA

    It now transpires that the Soyuz rocket carrying the first two operational satel- lites of the European Gali- leo navigational system, in- stead of depositing them into a 23,500 km orbit, put them into an useless one at 17,000 km. Fixing the problem will be "very com- plicated", according to the specialists involved. Galileo will trump the American GPS system by offering an unrestricted sub-metre glo- bal positioning accuracy. Partially because of this, the project is viewed with utter hostility by the expo- nents of the American im- perial project, so the set- back will bring smiles to many a face in Washing- ton.

    Too many engines, Wilbur  [zoom]
    Photo: BBC

    Two space launches have gone askew. The first two operational satellites of the European Galileo naviga- tional system are showing "a discrepancy between the targeted and reached orbit", and SpaceX's Falcon 9 ex- ploded seconds after lift-off. ESA is scrambling to find a fix. There will be no fixes for the Elonian shot.

    Not so green         Img: Wikipedia
    NASA reports an inexpli- cably slow atmospheric concentration decay of the ozone-depleting industrial solvent carbon tetrachlori- de, banned by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, hinting at possible clandestine emi- ssions.

    Zanoli then                  Photo by X
    Righteous then, righteous now. A Righteous Among the Nations
    returns medal to Yad Vashem protesting against Israeli bestiality in Gaza.

    Reliable                    Photo: Jmak
    A phone call too far. Guar- dian's Owen Jones argues for the nationalization of ce- llular networks. We second the idea.

    A message Kerry'd away     [zoom]
    Photo: AP/Lucas Jackson

    Friends-and-allies don't let friends-and-allies keep sec- rets.

    A depreciating but growing asset Photo: Instagram                [zoom]
    "Kim Kardashian's bottom is not up for grabs", warns the Guardian, as we were about to reach for the pro- duct.

    Photo: unknown artist         [zoom]
    Fritz Wunderlich sings Ombra mai fu from Han- del's Xerxes on a freshly remastered 1946 recording from Sony Classics, with Gerhard Becker conducing the Berliner Symphoniker.


O Poor Canada

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

And soon not under surveillance                                                       Photo: Getty Images

Christmas came early to Stephen Harper this year.

The lone gunman who rampaged through the corridors of power last week handed him a golden opportunity to invoke what Naomi Klein calls the shock doctrine, ie, to further tighten the screw on the civil liberties of the ordinary Canadians. So far as the jihadists go, it's hard to imagine them losing sleep over what Harper may concoct as anti- terrorism measures.

If he wants it to be more quiet on the terrorism front, he should first get out of Bibi's bed and then withdraw Canadian participation in Uncle Sam's petroleum-scented cru- sades in the Asia Minor. Keeping in mind that terrorism is a poor man's way of waging war, short of the aforementioned withdrawals, it will be business as usual.


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jacqueline aux fleurs by Pablo Picasso                    Oil on canvas

Statistically Significant


Thursday, 22 October 2014

Percentage increase in requests by world governments for Twitter user data since the beginning of this year: 46
Percentage of all requests that have come from the US government: 61
Portion of US government requests with which Twitter complies: 3/4

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

Tragicomic Relief

If Alcohol Interferes With Your Work, Quit Work

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

In response to the asylum request of a 16-year-old Russian exchange student living in Michigan made based on concerns that he would be persecuted for being gay if he returned home, Russia announced that it would end its participation in the exchange program"

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


On The Inseparability Of Church And State

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

"A word from the Prince, your Excellency"              Painting by unknown 16th c. Italian master

If they believe that," said recently Noam Chomsky of religion, "they'll believe any- thing".

It could be, but there's more to it than that.

It is that, repeated from the pulpit, the message of the Prince acquires the imprimatur of God, with whom one doesn't argue. It is for this reason that the politician and the shaman will always walk together hand in hand.

Tragicomic Relief

Built For Comfort Not Speed

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The US National Institutes of Health awarded a $466,642 grant to a study that will examine why obese adolescent girls have fewer dating experiences than their non- obese peers".

DD awaits with bated breath the outcome of this vital research, though it thinks it already has an answer.

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

Your Land Is Our Land

The Two-State Solution

Monday, 6 October 2014

And its 8-metre helper                                                                   Photo: Wikipedia/Zero

Back in July we bemoaned the silence emanating from Scandinavia after Bibi had gouged out Gaza's remaining eye.

If not in Oslo and Copenhagen, someone in Stockholm was paying attention, for it's been reported that Sweden had triumphantly announced recognizing the Palestinian State (after being beaten to it by 130 other countries), and, for a good measure, putting its weight behind this precious commodity which is the "two-state solution", which Bibi wants too.

But here the joy ends, because what Israel wants can't be good.

Here's why. The two-state solution means that Israel gets the fruited plain by the sea, and the Palestinians the rocky and fragmented hinterland. Arafat had recognized this and balked. Abbas has been nibbling.

The real solution to the Israel/Palestine dilemma is called the "one state solution", with both people living on the same land on the basis of equality under a secular law. There is no alternative.

So, while Sweden's recognition has created a good atmosphere, the two-state-solu- tion which it touts plays to Bibi's hands, and is shameful. Sweden could do better that that, for example, by simultaneously announcing downgrading of the diplomatic ties with Israel to a consular level, withdrawing its ambassador, and inviting the Israeli one to take an extended leave of absence.

This done, it should suggest to Denmark and Norway to follow suit, and begin laying out plans for the BDS, the only thing Bibi fears.

Friends Helping Friends

No Whistling Please

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Too transactional, not enough relational                             Photo: Nabil Rahman/ProPublica

What does not kill me," proclaims the philosopher, "makes me stronger". This, we suggest, be the motto to emplace above the entrances to Goldman Sachs and each of the Wall Street banks which Obama had missed the opportunity to bludgeon into submission after the Grand Theft Auto of the Subprimes debacle.

This had made them stronger and even more arrogant than before, Goldman Sachs being Exhibit A. While back in 2008 they were too-big-to-fail, now they are too-big-to-touch.

Our Seattle correspondent scores a third goal running forwarding this exposé from ProPublica describing the events leading to an abrupt career termination of an intelli- gent, curious, and diligent Fed investigator who had failed to succumb to the obliga- tory "regulatory capture" while labouring to sort out the conflict of interest at GS.

So, sit back, relax, and prepare for the future pain of having to pay for the failure of the Fed to whip the banks into shape.

Tragicomic Relief

Cat's Pyjamas

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

In the United Kingdom, MP Brooks Newmark resigned as minister for civil society when it was reported that he had sent a nude photo of himself to a male freelance journalist posing on Twitter as a “twentysomething Tory PR girl” named Sophie"

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


Conspicuous Maternity

Saturday, 27 September 2014

"Well done, my dear"                                                                       Photo: Reuters/BBC

It would be tempting to congratulate Marc Mezvinsky on integrating himself so nicely into a family so prominent as the Clintons, though, as the poor Siné had found out, even noticing* such things can have a career-limiting effect. In any case, it is not he who ought to be congratulated on the arrival of his first child, which seals the union, but his mother-in-law.

Why, you may ask.

Because, with the arrival of this baby, in whose veins half of the blood is Jewish, Hil- lary washes away the mortal sin of saying "fuck the Jews" during a heated post- mortem after the disastrous 1994 mid-term elections.  That's why.

After 20 years of purgatory, the fundamental obstacle to her becoming president has vanished.

*) Siné, doyen of the French political cartoonists, got abruptly fired from Charlie Heb- do when he wrote that Jean Sarkozy (son of Nicolas) "will go far" after he married a (Jewish) heiress to the Darty empire.

Your Land Is Our Land

The Art Of Ceasefire

Thursday, 18 September 2014

"Don't linger, another ceasefire's coming"                                  Photo: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

The blog at the London Review of Books takes a look at the ceasefire being waged by Israel against the Palestinians.

Tragicomic Relief

Have Russian Passport, Won't Travel

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The United States and the European Union issued new sanctions against Russia, including travel and asset freezes on 24 Russian officials, for the country’s support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. “The less our officials and corporate executives travel abroad,” Vladimir Putin said of the sanctions, “the better.”

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

Public Education

Ebola In Town

Monday, 15 September 2014

Your school board in session                                                               Photo: Wikipedia

As the the American soldiers battle for oil with the religious fanatics in the wastes of Central Asia, the American citizenry fights a rearguard battle against a frontal assault from religious jihadists right at home.

Our Seattle correspondent—freshly back from Iceland, where he dodged the ill-tem- pered Bárðarbunga—forwards this jaw-dropper aired the other day by National Pub- lic.Radio.

It's about a school board in a small town USA being taken over by Orthodox Jews who themselves wouldn't dream of sending their own offspring to the public schools for which they are now responsible and whose property they sell to themselves better to house their own madrasas (called yeshivas) for which (miracle of miracles) they illegally receive public money, illegal tax breaks, and broad smiles from Hillary Clinton and other politicians on the make and in a hurry.

Tragicomic Relief


Friday, 12 September 2014

More than 450 fast-food workers were arrested during demonstrations in 150 Ameri- can cities to demand wages of $15 an hour and the right to unionize."

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


The sans-culottes meet the sans-dents

Monday, 8 September 2014

"You're in the book too. Yes, you."                                                        Photo: Cyclotron

Valérie Trierweiler has just-published a memoir* covering her stint at the Elysée as François Hollande's compagne, and France's 'First Lady'. The high-profile bliss had lasted two years, until François got caught with his hand in Julie Gayet's culottes.

Le Monde describes the book as a mixture of the intime and the politique. No great revelations, no great drama.

With one exception.

Trierweiler reveals Hollande's particular contempt for the class which his nominally socialist party is supposed to represent, and from which Valérie herself hails. She says he has a habit of calling the proletariat "sans-dents" (without teeth), in reference to the sans-culottes of the French Revolution.

The question now is to what extent this will be noticed by the selectively observant press. Our bet is on little.

*)  Merci pour ce moment, Les Arènes, 330 pp

German Economy

All Not Quiet On The Home Front

Monday, 1 September 2014

View from Angie's window                                                                   Photo: Wikipedia

Not all that shines is Rheingold, says the economist Gabriel Colletis in a freshly published look* at the prospects for the German economy. What he says ought to make Angela Merkel anxious.

It comes at a time when Merkel seeks to jump the European mothership to search for the golden fleece in East Asia and America, both identified by her and by her finance minister as the locations where the future of the humanity will unfold.


Colletis identifies five threats closer to home which, according to him, will destroy the German model before the end of the decade. First come the précarité and the mal- emploi linked to the financialization of the economy, and the various anti-worker stratagems deployed by the industry in thrall of neo-liberalism.

Workers at and at Zalando (known as "Sklavando"), for example, have rebelled against the third-world working conditions. Pressure from the hedge funders demanding 12 percent on the capital while 4 percent remains a sustainable average is an aggravating factor. But nowadays it is the shareholder who rules, to the tune of job losses and mounting inequality.

Colletis quotes German dependence on exports and strong growth in imports as ano- ther weakness. The organic foods, production of which not long ago seemed like a German forte, got outsourced to Central Europe, which has demonstrated to have a particularly green finger and the right prices. Recession in Europe and elsewhere does not help the exports. The Mercedes and the BMWs aren't on people's minds when the question of how to feed the children is.

The long stagnated Länder in the east have seen no growth since 2000. The prospect that this will change soon is bleak. The richest Länder, Bavaria and Baden-Württem- berg, show little enthusiasm for indefinitely supporting the poor cousins in the ex-DDR.

Though reproduction remains a well understood and popular activity among the hu- mans, Germans have been showing restraint, producing offspring at the rate of 1.39 per woman, not enough to replenish the stock. The consequence of this is that the population has been on the decrease since 2003.

The environment took a knock when Germany decided to dismantle its nuclear power and reverted to coal. The renewables are late filling the gap for the un-German-like lack of political will and investment.

Colletis concludes his analysis with this thought:

"In short, the future of Germany is less radiant than most believe. It would serve well the German leaders to recognize it and engage, when there is still time, in a debate on the best way to confront these tendencies, which are as worrisome, as they were predictable."

*)  Bientôt, l'explosion du "modèle allemand", Le Monde, 26 August 2014

Postscriptum.   Our Munich correspondent forwards a piece in which the author seems to be confirming Colletis' prognosis.

Your Land Is Our Land

Il Stato Canaglia

Monday, 25 August 2014

Straight shooter                                                                       Photo: Corriere della Sera

To the shrieks of the Zionist attack dogs, the renowned Italian philosopher and member of the European Parliament, Gianni Vattimo, gave an interview to Corriere della Sera, in which he unleashed a frontal attack against Israel's hooliganism in Gaza, and called for a campaign to organize International Brigades in the style of those which fought Franco in 1936, to fight on the side of the Palestinians.

He managed to keep the dogs at bay and dominate them the way a superior mind dominates inferior species. The spectacle (in Italian) can be heard here.

The superiority of Europe over America lies in the willingness of the Europeans to tell urbi et orbi what's on their mind.

Pretty Good Privacy

Enemy Within

Friday, 22 August 2014

Still pungent                                                                               Image: The Tor Project

We feel the pain of the spooks at the NSA and GCHQ.

It seems now that every time they try to plant a bug in the Tor browser, they get sabotaged by their own geeks who are more attached to their personal liberties than to the totalitarian projects of their respective bosses.

It's actually quite amusing.

Statistically Significant

Selfishness Gap

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Percentage of liberal Americans who would prefer a large house to a “walkable” community: 32

Of conservative Americans: 69

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

Essential Reading

Tales From The Land Of The Absurd

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Good for the tsar                                                                                      Photo: Getty

Peter Pomerantsev looks at the Russian drinking scene. Opener:

Over a drink, an English investment fund manager working in Moscow told a friend of mine that the war in Ukraine meant everyone in his office had had to ‘downgrade their own futures’. They had been calculating that Putin would eventually calm down and things would get back to normal. He hasn’t, and it looks like nothing will ever be normal again. At the fund manager’s office, they’re talking about the possibility of 30 per cent inflation and GDP contrac- ting by 10 per cent. Some of them have decided to relax and enjoy the apoca- lypse. Since the Kremlin banned food imports from the EU and US earlier this month, there’s a sense of needing to party before the good things run out. They start drinking on Tuesdays now.

Tragicomic Relief

The Right Of Every Idiot To Keep And Bear Arms

Sunday, 17 August 2014

In Colorado, a nine-year-old handed a gun to a five-year-old, who used it to shoot a three-year-old in the chest."

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

Animal Husbandry

Ersatz Everything

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Facebook community. And now to the right everybody                   Photo: Scot Campbel

A gratifying piece describing the latest trickery at Facebook appears in the July 17th issue of LRB. The music commences thusly:

Heaven knows there are reasons enough for anyone to feel miserable about Facebook: the mediation and commodification of ordinary human rela- tionships, the mediation and commodification of every aspect of everyday life, the invasions of privacy, the ‘targeted’ adverts, the crappy photos, the asinine jokes, the pressure to like and be liked, the bullying, the sexism, the racism, the ersatz activism, the ersatz everything. I don’t think this only because I happen to be a miserable git: last year, researchers at the University of Michigan found that ‘Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults’; earlier studies suggested that people felt envious and left out of all the fun stuff their friends were up to.


Your Land Is Our Land

Not Eyeless In Gaza

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Alvarez: all eyes                                                                                       Photo: TVE

We have reported earlier on NBC's pulling Ayman Mohyeldin out of Gaza for witnes- sing an IDF execution of four Palestinian boys playing football on a beach.

Le Monde reports now that Hamutal Rogel, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Madrid, has demanded a withdrawal from Gaza of the Spanish public television cor- respondent Yolanda Alvarez, accusing her of not looking the other way when the IDF brutalized the local population.

Aside from being taken aback by the ill-breeding of the Israeli demands, we are im- pressed by the fine-grained nature of their surveillance operations, which allows them to quickly identify and target whoever notices too much.

Tragicomic Relief

Friends Helping Friends

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Consumption rate has been tremendous                                       Photo: AP/Khalil Hamra

Prior to the start of a five-week congressional recess, the House of Representatives passed, by large majorities, bills to replenish Israel’s missile-defense system"

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

Essential Reading

Lawn Mowing

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Kneading Semtex, darling?  We would be too.                                      Photo: Le Monde

Here is the opening section of Mouin Rabbani's "Israel mows the lawn", published in the current issue of the London Review of Books:

In 2004, a year before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Dov Weissglass, éminence grise to Ariel Sharon, explained the initiative’s purpose to an interviewer from Haaretz:

"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process … And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with … a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress … The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."

The article is a must-read to anyone who wants to understand what Israel has always been, and, until checked, will always be up to.


Essential Reading

  (Essential Viewing
  (Essential Listening→

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