Democracy

When you travel through France, there’s one name that appears most in public space ― on streets, schools and metro stations. Not Jeanne d’Arc, Napoleon, or even World War II resistance leader and later president Charles de Gaulle. No, the name you can pretty safely bet you’ll find on some sign in the next sleepy village is that of Jean Jaures. Jaures was France’s most famous socialist leader and deputy, a tenacious and passionate fighter for workers’ rights and against war, anti-Semitism, clericalism and colonialism.
The publication of a document highly critical of the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, authored by one of the longest-serving ministers in former president Hugo Chavez’s government, has triggered an unprecedented debate among Venezuelan revolutionaries. Jorge Giordani dropped the bombshell on June 18, a day after he was replaced as planning minister. This was preceded by his dismissal from the boards of Venezuela's Central Bank and state oil company PDVSA, the state oil company. He had held the post almost uninterruptedly since Chavez first came to power in 1999. .
In a September 2006 article for the Electronic Intifada, I defined the Israeli policy towards the Gaza Strip as an incremental genocide. Israel’s present assault on Gaza alas indicates that this policy continues unabated. The term is important since it appropriately locates Israel’s barbaric action ― then and now ― within a wider historical context.
A US drone attack in North Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) killed 20 people on July 16. It brought the number of people killed by US drones in North Waziristan since June 12 to 50. The July 16 Nation reported, “five drones are still flying over the Datta Khel area and hampering the relief activities underway there. This … is fomenting a fear of the death toll rising.”
Two teenage asylum seekers have been taken from their homes in a community detention program in Adelaide’s inner-northern suburbs and sent to a closed detention centre, causing other young asylum seekers to run away from their homes in fear. On June 26, two young Vietnamese asylum seekers, who attended Woodville High School, were taken from their homes and detained by the immigration department.
It was the theme du jour at the B20 gathering in Sydney, which brought together more than 300 business leaders seeking to shape the agenda of the G20: Business knows best so leave the big decisions to us. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it and numerous self-serving CEOs happily served as a chorus. But the standout croaky voice was that of global media mogul Rupert Murdoch: “Everybody in this room knows dozens or hundreds of very, very fine businessmen. How many people know a politician who can run a business?”
France bans pro-Palestine protests “France's Socialist government provoked outrage today by becoming the first in the world to ban protests against Israeli action in Palestine,” the Daily Mail reported on July 18. “In what is viewed as an outrageous attack on democracy, Socialist Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said mass demonstrations planned for the weekend should be halted … Thousands were set to march against the ongoing slaughter in Gaza.
Capital in the 21st Century Thomas Piketty Havard University Press, 2014 US$39.95, 696 pages By now, perhaps, you’ve heard the fuss about French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the 21st Century, but haven’t been able to carve out time to read it. Waiting for a movie version? It could be a long time coming (more on that below). In the meantime, here are some critical takeaways, and omissions, for labour activists.
One petition I saw circulating recently called for both Israel and Hamas to put down their weapons. I dispute this approach that blames both sides equally. Israel is the aggressor. Not only is Israel bombing indiscriminately with a view to maximising civilian casualties, it continues to maintain its inhumane and illegal siege of Gaza. The kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers was simply a pretext. There is no evidence that it was a Palestinian or a Hamas member who killed the teenagers. Israel has set itself as judge, jury and executioner. 
News has broken that Israel has now followed its sustained air bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, which has already killed at least 230 people, with a ground invasion. This weekend, rallies are being held in cities across Australia to rally for Palestine int he face of Israel's carnage (details below).

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