Tag: United States

Former squatter Hannah Dobbz’ Nine-Tenths of the Law: Property and Resistance in the United States (AK Press) couldn’t arrive at a more fitting time. The housing crisis unquestionably complicated and challenged Americans’ notion of the American Dream of universal homeownership, leaving fertile ground to explore and question who or what grants the right to live in a dwelling.  (More…)

The US government is becoming a textbook example of dysfunction. Everyone thinks that about their government, with good reason. I will not, in this space, try to compare American dysfunction to that of any other country. But it’s time to look at how bad the situation has become, as it has been highlighted by the circus surrounding the confirmation of ex-Senator Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense. (More…)

It’s really easy to overlook a bandit sign. Just a few words of text and a telephone number, pasted to telephone poles in poor neighborhoods, advertising a roofing company, or the number of someone who’ll pay cash for your home or car, they prey on the needy.  Bandit signs are also an eyesore, creating more trash in already heavily polluted parts of American cities. And they’re illegal.  (More…)

Barack Obama has decided to go to Israel, with his new secretary of State, John Kerry preceding him. The White House has already stated that Obama is not using this trip to restart talks with the Palestinians. Obama will likely spend most of the time discussing Iran and Syria with Prime Minister Netanyahu. But eyes are still on the Palestinian issue. At some point, Obama will either decide, or be forced, to take it up again. (More…)

Did Israel step into the Syrian civil war, as a grim headline in Ha’aretz declared? At the time of this article’s writing, it doesn’t seem so, despite a good deal of bluster coming from Lebanon, Iran, and Syria itself. Still, by launching an unprovoked attack against a Syrian target, there can be little doubt that Israel has made the situation more sensitive. Further Israeli operations run an increasing risk of sparking a regional war.  (More…)

The United States is the only country where owning a gun is considered a God-given right. For some, perhaps, it is merely held to be a constitutional right (in this, it stands with only three other countries: Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico.) But whatever level of divinity is bestowed upon it, the gun is American culture’s Golden Calf. (More…)

Since its Christmas opening in the US, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has generated an extraordinary amount of commentary. Some love it. Some hate it. Almost everyone who sees the film has strong opinions about it. But American fixations — use of the “N-word”, depictions of torture — have overshadowed its most prominent feature: the relationship between a German bounty hunter and his black protegé. (More…)

Despite the drama, it looks like a done deal. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel will likely receive Senate confirmation for their new cabinet posts. Assuming there are no last minute challenges to their appointments, there is little to look forward to. A second term Obama Administration is unlikely to take any new risks in the Middle East. (More…)

Gangnam Style is not a protest song. If anything, the 2012 hit, by Korean rapper Psy, is a celebration of meaninglessness, a musically repurposed novelty phrase, in a non-English language, cleverly paired with pedestrian, early ‘90s rave arragements.  Imagine Americans’ shock when its author, about to perform at the White House, was outed for inciting against the US military, back in 2004. (More…)

The UN vote on Palestinian statehood went pretty much as expected, with overwhelming agreement on supporting the proposed resolution. And today, Palestinians woke up just as stateless, just as occupied as they were before the vote. Does that mean that the whole episode was, as Israel has been trying to claim these past few days, much ado about nothing? (More…)

Blame the duration. Now in its eleventh year, the war in Afghanistan has assumed an aura of permanence. Like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it grinds on, without any endpoint in sight. American declarations about drawing down its troops look good in the newspaper. However, nobody takes them seriously anymore. (More…)

On Sunday November 11th, people all over Britain pinned the famous blood-red emblem of remembrance to their clothing in honor of those who fought and died for the country. In particular, during a conflict few outside the UK remember quite the same way: the First World War. (More…)