Category Archives: Politics

Map of the day II: A cartography of murder

From Global Witness:

BLOG Envirokills

Quote of the day: An old American tradition

Dr. Cornel West, speaking to the Story County Democratic Party annual fall barbecue in Ames, Iowa, via Esquire:

“Brother Bernie [Sanders] and I come from a great tradition,” West continued, his tone rising and falling in the familiar cadence and modulation of the pulpit. “The tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Albert Einnnn-stein. The tradition of Helen Keller and Ella Baker. The tradition of John Dewey, who is the founder of pragmatism, but he was a democratic socialist, too. Reinhold Niebuhr! And my dear brother, one of the greatest folk I’ve ever met in Iowa, his name is Reverend Gil Dawes, who’s a Methodist minister, who has been struggling for fifty YEARS and still on fire for justice! The point is that, you see, democratic socialism is not some kind of alien element. It’s organic and indigenous in the history of this nation. Don’t allow the ‘ism’ get in the way of the love of poor people, the love of working people, the love of people of color, the love of gay brothers and lesbian sisters, the love of the elderly and the children and the physically challenged. It’s a question of what kind of human being do you want to be.”

Quote of the day: Donald Trump as ISIS

From Margaret Cho in an interview for the Guardian by Michael Hogan:

If Trump becomes president, the whole world’s in big trouble. He’s using Isis to make points about mosques, immigration, torture, oil… In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is Isis.

CNN reporter Tweeted to Hillary’s tune

Ah, what more to say?

The report, including comments from Chris Hedges, via RT:

 CNN reporter took orders from US State Dept

Program notes:

A reporter from American broadcaster CNN has found herself in the middle of a scandal. Declassified State Department emails show she was receiving orders from a government official.

Immigration spurs rise in Swedish xenophobia

Scandinavian folks can just as racist as other folks. Our own Danish grandfather, a onetime Klansman, once declared to his son-in-law, our father, that “Swedes is nothin’ but niggers turned inside out.”

The nomadic Roma people have long been the especial targets of violent xenophobia, and as Heather Docalavich and Shaina C. Indovino write in their work Denmark, “A practice of ‘Gypsy hunting’ — similar to fox hunting — was both common and legal in some parts of Europe. Even as late as 1835, a Gypsy hunt in Dennmark “brought in a bag of over 260 men, women, and children.”

And in Sweden, which has a long history of anti-Roma xenophobia, the problem has reached crisis proportions, even before the influx of refugees from the tide of ISIS violence.

Reuters reported in August:

A series of attacks in Sweden on beggars, many Roma, has highlighted a dark side to a country considered a bastion of tolerance but where the far right has been gaining support by claiming society is under threat from waves of immigrants.

An influx of thousands of mainly Roma migrants has shocked affluent Swedes, with beggars now a common sight outside supermarkets, IKEA stores and subways in the capital.

Since most come from Romania and Bulgaria, they are free to travel to Sweden as EU citizens, but their presence has fueled claims by the Sweden Democrats the country is a soft-touch for migrants and is being swamped.

An October Al Jazeera report focused on violence toward immigrants from violence-torn lands in Africa and the Middle East:

A former retirement home slated to house refugees in Sweden was burned Thursday in what police suspect was an arson attack, local media reported. It was the latest in a string of fires at buildings destined to house some of the refugees streaming into Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

The fire in the southern town of Oderljunga followed one at a former boys’ school set to house about 170 refugees in a nearby town over the weekend, according to Swedish newspaper The Local. Three other centers were engulfed by fire in the southern Sweden last week.

Sweden, with a population of 9.5 million, hosts the most refugees per capita of any European country: 142,000 refugees and about 57,000 asylum seekers, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

And who are the folks capitalizing on the influx of refugees to inflame the violence?

Here’s a video report from the Guardian:

Meet the young supporters of Sweden’s far right

Program notes:

Sweden’s liberal identity is under attack. As increasing numbers of refugees enter the country, anti-immigrant violence is rising.

And the Sweden Democrats, a radical nationalist group, is now the third largest party in the country. Phoebe Greenwood meets the young Swedes who believe multiculturalism is a threat – and the migrants afraid of what this means for them.

More on supporters of the Sweden Democrats from Linköping University:

After the Swedish general elections in September 2014, there has been much debate regarding how the Sweden Democrats could end up as the third largest party. Some commentators argued that voters were expressing their disapproval with the established parties – a theory rejected by the four Linköping University researchers.

“There is a very strong correlation between negative attitudes toward minorities and the decision to vote for the Sweden Democrats,” says Peter Hedström, professor of analytical sociology and director of the Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS) at Linköping University.

In the study, the researchers asked respondents how they feel about someone with a Muslim background being their next-door neighbour, caring for their parents or marrying into their family. The questions were asked both before and after the election. The results show that Sweden Democrat voters have a more negative view of Muslims and people with foreign names than other voters. Fifty per cent of Sweden Democrat voters did not want a Muslim as next-door neighbour, and 80 per cent are negative to someone with a Muslim background marrying into their family.

The brink of crisis: Globalization reaches a peak

The world may be on the brink of another financial collapse, this time with the Chinese economy as the likely catalyst, and with Britain holding $500 million in Chinese debt, the “sceptered isle” may bear a major portion of the impact.

One thing is certain: The world’s economy can’t continue with an agenda of unlimited development and endless consumption of throwaway goods, given that limits to extractive resources may have already peaked.

British radical economist James Meadway has been tracking the state of the globalized economy, and he sees major shifts already underway as China shifts from its economic roles.

Meadway, formerly an economist with the New Economics Foundation, described his concerns in a September essay for the Guardian:

Has globalisation peaked? Two fundamental factors suggest it may have. First, the financial crisis itself revealed the systemic weaknesses inherent in an over-extended financial system. Major financial institutions, banks chief among them, are now significantly more wary about reaching beyond their home bases. In the event of a future crisis, they will require strong, supportive states ready to back them up. This has drawn banks and states closer together, with weak states and weak banks propping each other up, as in the eurozone’s “sovereign-bank nexus” (the strong links between government debt and banks).

Second, states themselves are acting strategically. Globalisation was associated with a belief in the supreme merits of government inaction on the economy, but governments are increasingly strategic economic actors.

China is attempting an immense shift away from its decades-old role as low-cost exporter to the world, expanding both its domestic market, and seeking to create a new, regional trading block around the new Silk Road. The collapse of its stock market, naturally, necessitated a huge (if deeply flawed) government intervention. Protectionism is on the rise, whilst yuan devaluation has raised the spectre of “currency wars”. The German state, meanwhile, is an assiduous defender of its own interests as a manufacturing exporter.

Failure to address the looming crisis will only make the crisis worse, he explains.

In this, the latest edition of Taiq Ali’s Telesur English series, The World Today, Meadway explains his concerns as well as possible reforms to adjust the world’s economy to the new realities of the 21st Century:

The World Today: The State of the Economy

Program notes:

Tariq Ali talks to James Meadway, radical economist, about the global economy, the failure of world leaders to effectively resolve the financial crisis in 2008, and the probability of another crisis occurring in the future.

A Polish rebuff to American Polanski injustice

Polish prosecutors issued a remarkable and extremely accurate riposte to Los Angeles courts and the district attorney’s office that precisely parallels our own concerns from witnessing the case firsthand, concerns we raised in many previous posts.

From Mariella Rudi of Westside Today in Los Angeles:

In a statement released today, the Krakow prosecutors said Polanski would be denied rights that are guaranteed by the European Constitution.

They cited “excessive vulnerability of judges and prosecutors to criticism by the American news media” which would prevent a fair sentence from being imposed for the rape of the girl.

The prosecutors also blasted Los Angeles judges for having consulted with prosecutors without Polanski or his attorney present, a violation of European legal codes.

The prosecutors also blasted the American system of sentencing fugitive convicts in absentia.

The point is, Polanski had already served the sentence stipulated in the plea agreement, and fled only after learning that Judge Laurence J. Rittenband had breached the agreement and now sought a longer sentence.

The judge violated basic judicial standards in extensive ex parte discussions not only with members of the district attorney’s office but also with at least one journalist [esnl], assorted pals from his country club, and wives of friends, his mistresses [at age 70, he had three], and others.

In subsequent years, after Rittenband’s retirement, other judges assigned to the case had similar ex parte conversations about the case with representatives of the district attorney’s office but not Polanski’s own attorneys, again, a fundamental violation of judicial standards and Polanski’s own rights.

Most certainly Polanski committed a crime. But he has had no legal problems in the four decades since, and his victim, her family, and the DA who prosecuted the case [scrupulously, we might add] all agreed that Polanski has become the victim of an ongoing injustice.

It’s nice to see that Polish prosecutors also agree.