You wouldn’t know it from the news headlines in the United States, but for the past ten days hundreds of activists have been protesting 300 metres from the heart of Wall Street. On September 17th, activists converged in the heart of New York’s financial district, intent on occupying Wall Street. They were rebuffed by the police from that goal, and have instead began occupying the nearby Zuccotti Park, now renamed Liberty Plaza. The movement, called Occupy Wall Street, was sparked by the Canadian group Adbusters, and has captured the imagination of many on the Left hopeful for signs of an American version of the Arab Spring.
Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps as a luminary of the Christian Right in the United States. He spent his early years in the rarefied world of L’Abri, the mission his parents founded in Switzerland in 1955. In the late 1970s, he helped found the “pro-life” movement in the US with his father and the late C. Everett Koop, who became Reagan’s Surgeon General. During the 1980s, he worked with R.J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism or Dominionism.
Schaeffer became disillusioned with fundamentalism during the 1980s and ultimately renounced his former beliefs. Over the past several decades, he has worked to explain Reconstructionism to the secular public. In his new book, Sex, Mom and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway, Schaeffer discusses the anti-feminist politics that came out of his family’s religion. A recent media firestorm casts doubt on the mere existence of Reconstructionism, but my recent talk with Schaeffer suggests reinforces the sense that the movement remains politically important.
May 15th marks the simultaneous anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, and the mass expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their land. While Israelis celebrate their independence day, Palestinians and Palestine sympathizers mourn and commemorate what has come to be known as, “Al Nakba” or “The Catastrophe.”
The Nakba was not simply one event, but a sixty-three year process of continuous loss. What was once the tragic image of a depleted Palestine immediately after the Nakba is now the idealized 1967 border lines symbolizing “peace” and a successfully implemented two-state solution.
On May 15th, Palestinians and activists from around the world traditionally rally in front of Israeli embassies and other politically significant monuments or gathering places, recognizing Al Nakba and demanding an end to the occupation and the right of return for all displaced Palestinian refugees. Despite the noticeable shift in public opinion in favor of Palestine and the increasing common knowledge that many Israeli policies explicitly and repeatedly violate international law, little has changed in terms of foreign policy or political practice.
Is this year different?
Laurie Penny is an English journalist who came into the public eye last year with her gripping coverage of the student protests and occupations. She writes a column for the New Statesman, as well as appearing in The Guardian and the Evening Standard. Her first book Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism is out on Zero from April 29th. I caught up with Laurie recently to talk about her book, and the situation facing women today.
Ave! Duci Novo, similis duci seneca or will Ireland ever break free from civil war politics?
Sound the fanfare. Bang the drum. After three years of catastrophic economic mismanagement, the Irish have had the chance to vote out the old guard and vote for change. Fine Gael and Labour have formed a shiny, new coalition. Both parties have vim, vigour and the energy to stand up to the banks and our EU/IMF masters. Thirty five TDs (MPs) including ten government ministers of the failed Fianna Fáil and Green coalition decisively voted off the island by the electorate.
Perhaps it is not quite decimation for Fianna Fáil (centre right). For the first time in their history, they are now the third party of Irish politics. Considering that other parties consist of Sinn Féin (former political wing of the IRA), the Socialist Party (more like communist really even though the party leader gives a good speech), assorted do gooder others (who wail and gnash their teeth but have no viable alternative) and the Green Party who failed to hold a single seat.
Over the last 6 months, the epitaphs for the multicultural project have been steadily growing. On Febuary 5th, as 3000 fascists marched through Luton chanting anti-Islam slogans, Prime Minster David Cameron delivered a speech declaring the death of multiculturalism in the U.K. Unsurprisingly, Fox News in the United States took up this motif with approval over the weekend.
Cameron’s speech came on the heels of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s well-publicised declaration in October that multiculturalism had “failed utterly” and that it had been a mistake to think that German and foreign workers could “live next to each other.”
Even here in my corner of the world—a little spot in the Southeastern region of the United States—everyone seems a little different today. A little bit kinder, maybe. A little bit more patient, even a little more peaceful. Out on the interstate, people are driving calmly, remembering to operate their turn signals, and making sure not to tailgate their neighbors. We are thinking of other drivers on the road as our neighbors of all things. Probably these observations can be dismissed as the product of an overly sentimental imagination. Maybe in a couple of days when I finish basking in the joy I see projected in the images of Egypt that pervade the popular imagination, I will be embarrassed by the emotion I expressed here. Maybe I’ll even regret blowing the opportunity to provide some kind of sophisticated theoretical analysis. But for now I have to ask: Could anyone have known after the devastating presidential speech of February 10, 2011 that in less than 24 hours you would remake the whole world?
As long as I am running this Government, I will run it as I see fit and as I believe, based on my philosophy.
Brian Cowen, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) thundered in the Irish Parliament in January 2009. Two years later, he is still Taoiseach but just a shadow of his former self. His personal approval rating is 8%. Many find it amazing that there are still 8% of people who approve of the job he is doing.
January 2011 was a very strange month in Ireland. It kicked off with the publication of a secret book – The Fitzpatrick Tapes by Tom Lyons and Brian Carey, proofed and published in complete secrecy. Sean Fitzpatrick had been one of the poster boys for the boom. As chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, he was friend to politician and property developer alike, dishing out the money with an even hand. But he was also a gambler – Anglo was a festering mountain of debt that has been referred to as the worst bank in the world. As the house of cards was toppling, the Irish Government first guaranteed and then nationalised Anglo. This bankrupted the country. Fitzpatrick was declared bankrupt.
While most of the United States celebrated Dr Martin Luther King’s birthday on Monday, a reminder came from Spokane about the violence that still simmers in the nation. City workers preparing for a parade in honor of MLK discovered a backpack with what looked like several wires sticking out from it. After the police were called in, it was discovered that the backpack was indeed a bomb. Police officials described the bomb as a legitimate threat, intended create mass casualties. As of yet, there is no conclusive evidence as to what the motivation was behind the bomb, but the FBI is now running the investigation and have stated that they are not ruling out involvement by local white supremacist organizations.
It should be no surprise to anybody that white supremacist organizations may have been involved in the most recent scare. Within the last year, another bomb has been left next to a court house, and there were at least two protests staged by white supremacists within the weeks leading up to the the MLK parade. But even as it should be no surprise, the reaction to these frightening events have been somewhat muted.
I live in the heart of the Emerald Triangle, where the air turns skunky in the fall and everyone seems to be paying with sticky hundreds at the grocery store, even, perhaps especially, the people in ratty, tattered clothes, who totter out to the parking lot with their organic cheese doodles to remotely unlock their $60,000 German cars. The grow houses in my neighbourhood blow out the transformer so regularly that when I call PG&E to report another outage, they say ‘Stewart Street, again?’ Shrewd Craigslist browsers look for the keyword ’215′ in listings, a reference to Proposition 215, California’s 1996 medical marijuana initiative, to see if prospective landlords will be down with a little dope in the backyard. When I travel and say I’m from Mendocino, I either get a blank look or ‘oh, Mendo, I had some really good weed from there once.’
Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is perhaps the hottest measure on California’s 2 November ballot (although the controversial Proposition 23 is also rather important) and it’s attracting nationwide attention. California already has some of the most liberal marijuana policy in the nation, including the first regulation allowing medical use. Locally, Mendocino County voters in 2000 approved Measure G, an initiative to decriminalise cultivation and possession of marijuana for personal use, making it a low priority for law enforcement, only to repeal it in 2008 with Measure B, reflecting some of the cracks and flaws in the legalisation movement, where opposition to legalisation comes from some surprising places. Continue reading