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If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like your kids mixing with problem families, the type who are always getting arrested, you wouldn’t want them going near Tony Blair, would you? Five times now he’s been the subject of a citizen’s arrest. This fits with what the police often say, that the vast majority of crimes are committed by a handful of repeat-offending troublemakers. Whenever he’s asked in interviews about the war that caused his problems, he gives an exasperated sigh and says: “Oh look, I mean, huh, we’ve been through this many times before.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on the people of Falluja to rise up on January 6 and drive out armed groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. News accounts reported that Falluja had “completely fallen” to the Islamist fighters. The Iraqi army was poised to retake the city, said Maliki. He asked Sunni tribes to help. Sunni fighters had already taken to the streets, the BBC said, not to help expel the Islamists, but to resist any assault by Maliki's forces.
Once a year, the world's political and business leaders flock to a small town in the Alps to drink champagne, chow down on fondue and chocolate-covered strawberries, hit the ski slopes, bathe in hot tubs and exchange business cards as they congratulate themselves on the fine job they're doing running things. Oh, and while in Davos, Switzerland, they also take part in the World Economic Forum (WEF), which took place from January 22-25.
Many people may wonder why Yingluck Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party’s government, which came to power supported by the poor-based Red Shirt mass movement, seems to be paralysed in the face of violent and criminal actions by Sutep Tuaksuban's Democrat Party mob. It is not due to “invisible hands” from the throne or covert military support for Sutep. In fact, the top elites regard Sutep and his acolytes as lowly street gangsters.
Banjo-picking American troubadour Pete Seeger died on January 27 at the age of 94. In a career that spanned eight decades, he sang for migrant workers, peace activists and anti-capitalists. Seeger died peacefully in his sleep around 9.30pm in New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him. Seeger was an iconic figure in protest music. In his younger days he performed with Woody Guthrie and in his nineties, leaning on two canes, he marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters.
“Seattle’s only Socialist City Council member announced Monday that she will make good on a campaign pledge and accept only [US]$40,000 a year in salary — bringing her down to the average wage of a worker in the city,” NBCNews.com said on January 27.
Division among ruling circles in the United States and internationally about what to do about the revelations of wholesale NSA spying continues to deepen. A January 17 speech by US President Barack Obama, which was supposed to move the discussion forward, was a flop. Polls indicate it failed to change people’s minds. He gave his usual “on the one hand, and on the other” type speech trying to appease both sides, but came down in defence of the NSA program.
Spartacus (Revealing Antiquity) By Aldo Schiavone (translation by Jeremy Carden) Harvard University Press, 2013 208 pp., $29.95 Karl Marx was a great admirer of ancient Roman and Greek philosophers and leaders. However, there was one he singled out as the “finest fellow antiquity had to offer”: Spartacus, the Thracian who led the most significant slave revolt against the Roman empire. Marx was not the only member of the Spartacus fan club. German Communists led by Rosa Luxemburg named their party after him.
For a second, just imagine that one of the highest ranked male tennis players in the world is taking part in the obligatory post-game interview having just won a marathon five setter. Now imagine the interviewer is themselves a veteran of the sport for decades, one who undoubtedly knows the game inside and out. Now imagine the first question they ask the winner is: “So who would you most like to date?”
Bill Gates is worried -- too many people are talking about raising the minimum wage. Appropriately, the world’s richest man spoke on the eve of the World Economic Summit in Davos. Gates is a great symbol of the Davos summit, an annual away day for global capitalism.There, the world’s 1% mouth concerns about poverty and climate change while working on policies that fuel inequality.

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