Geographies
Democracy Without Leadership

Democracy Without Leadership

Imagine a state about the size of Maryland. Give it slightly more people than Michigan. Divide it into three federal regions. Spice it up with three official languages (make sure these don’t coincide with the regions’ borders). Ensure it is run by variable coalitions of 10 political parties operating through 7 parliaments. Chop it into 10 provinces and, for good measure, 589 local councils. Mix well and let stew for a few decades. What do you get? Welcome to Belgium. More»

The Other Occupation

The Other Occupation

Israel’s killing of dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the fence surrounding Majdal Shams has again catapulted the 19,000 Druze and 2,000 Muslim Arabs of the Golan Heights to popular attention. Despite being as numerous as Israeli settlers, they lack equal rights and access to resources, as Arthur Neslen discovered in this feature, which was spiked by Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst. More»

The Road to Damascus

The Road to Damascus

The Gay Girl in Damascus blog has been outed.  Supposedly written by a Syrian-American lesbian named Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, the online personality came crashing down after her ‘cousin’ posted a dramatic story of her kidnapping by Syrian agents.  The alarm raised international attention and created a Facebook page where over 15,000 people demanded her freedom. More»

Very Late Capitalism

Very Late Capitalism

Making my way through the vastness of my local Costco, trying to avoid the urge to buy large quantities of things for which I have small need, I was surprised to catch a glimpse of huge plastic barrels of flour out of the corner of my eye.

“Wait,” I thought, “Didn’t I just see a row of flour sacks two aisles back?” As I turned my head to ponder this riddle, I saw that the flour was grouped next to huge containers of dried strawberries and, a little farther to the right, such staples as powdered milk and eggs. More»

The Entitled People

The Entitled People

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before a special joint session of the United States Congress. A foreign leader, he looked at home as he thumbed his nose at US President Barack Obama. Just days before, Obama had reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to two states—one for the Palestinians, the other for Israelis—based on pre-Six Day War borders. Netanyahu defied Obama as he told Congress (and international audiences watching the live broadcast) that Israel would not withdraw to the 1967 lines. More»

Flowers for the Living and Rocks for the Dead

Flowers for the Living and Rocks for the Dead

One giant scar runs through the otherwise pristine Arizona Highways landscape that spreads in all directions around desolate Arizona Highway 177. In between the towering rock walls, desert mountains, and tree-filled river beds, the Ray Mine sits like its own kind of toxic canyon carved into the landscape. More»

Britain For Extremists

Britain For Extremists

Forty-eight hours before the British government was to announce new initiatives to combat Muslim militants, a new police report indicated how much worse of a threat they have become. As The Daily Telegraph reported, a new generation of extremists, driven underground by law enforcement tactics, is now coming of age despite harsh measures to contain it. More»

Wake Up, David Cameron

Wake Up, David Cameron

Kudos to the Twitter client, TweetDeck, who were acquired by Twitter itself last week.  The tiny British startup will get the support it needs to create an even better product. Of nearly equal interest was The Guardian article announcing its acquisition, Twitter buys UK’s TweetDeck for £25m. More»

Belgium Was Here

Belgium Was Here

An obscure little place squeezed between bigger powers, Belgium has always been… well, different. For example, it is the first working anarchist state. It has not had a government since June 2010, when the previous one was dissolved following parliamentary elections, which the ruling right-of-centre coalition lost and Flemish nationalists and Walloon socialists won. This would be like Ralph Nader having to form a government with Pat Buchanan and Michele Bachmann. Talks have predictably gotten nowhere. More»

Surviving the Freedom Flotilla

Surviving the Freedom Flotilla

Gene St. Onge is not the sort of person you would expect to have done time in an Israeli prison. A middle-aged engineer from Oakland, California, there is a reserved aura about him that seems entirely suited to St. Onge’s hometown and choice of profession. More»

Mladic For Minorities

Mladic For Minorities

The arrest of Ratko Mladic could not have come at a better time. The last surviving high-ranking war criminal of the Yugoslav civil war to be apprehended, his sixteen years at large were a constant reminder of Western Europe’s failure to achieve justice. At a time when all Europeans need to be reminded of the values that made his freedom a travesty, Mladic has the potential to inspire more than a sense of closure where the Balkan tragedy of the early 1990s is concerned. More»

Prison Getaway

Prison Getaway

Florence, Arizona isn’t really the kind of town people think of going to for a vacation. Home of the Arizona State Prison complex — a sprawling mass of electric fence, surveillance towers, and cell blocks, Florence is the kind of town you drive through on your way to somewhere else. More»