Thu, 18/07/2024 - 23:34

It’s not a happenstance or some sad mistake that, barring a surprise, Americans will go to the polls in November to vote for one of two distinctly ancient men, now 77 and 81, both of whom have clearly exhibited language and thought problems for a significant period of time. To put this in perspective, remember for a moment that, until Ronald Reagan entered his second term in office in 1985 (during which he would get dementia before leaving the White House at age 77), the oldest president was Dwight D. Eisenhower and he was 70 (yes, 70!) not on entering the Oval Office but on leaving it after his second term in 1961.  Of course, that was another America in another... Read more

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Tue, 16/07/2024 - 23:28

It began with Aaron Bushnell and a visceral response of mine: Why would anyone do such a thing? Bushnell was the 25-year-old active-duty airman who set himself ablaze on February 25th in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., to protest that country’s brutal war in Gaza. The first question was tough enough, but his dramatic and deadly action also brought to mind other questions that have occupied my thinking, research, and writing in these last several years: What spurs someone to such an unyielding, ultimate commitment to a cause? What kind of political action is actually effective? When the campus protests over the bloodbath in Gaza exploded shortly after Bushnell’s act, those questions came to seem even more... Read more

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Mon, 15/07/2024 - 07:34

In 1979, I made the first of what would turn out to be decades of periodic visits to Israel and the West Bank. I traveled there for the New York alternative publication The Village Voice to investigate Israel’s growing settler movement, Gush Emunim (or the Bloc of the Faithful). The English-language Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, then reported that settlers from Kiryat Arba, a Jewish West Bank outpost, had murdered two Palestinian teenagers from the village of Halhoul. There, in one of the earliest West Bank settlements established by Gush Emunim, a distant cousin of my husband had two acquaintances. Under cover of being a Jew in search of enlightenment, I spent several days and nights with them. Gush Emunim:... Read more

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Thu, 11/07/2024 - 23:02

Former president Donald Trump often finds himself on the defensive against accusations of racism. He regularly denies the charges, distorting his record and resorting to his “Black friends” defense, while attempting to throw the allegations back at liberals. However, he never explains why he is the favorite son of the one group in society about whose racial bigotry there can be no debate: avowed racists. Since Trump emerged as a public political figure, they have been resolute in their loyalty to him. Are Trump’s African American allies like Senator Tim Scott or Representative Byron Donalds, or Latino ones like Senator Marco Rubio, truly ignorant of his unapologetically racist champions? Or is their blind ambition to share a ticket with him... Read more

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Tue, 09/07/2024 - 23:31

At least I had the courage to do the deed myself. That counts for something here on the other side of death, where I wait for you, Clarence Thomas, and your sharp-toothed wife Ginni, and someday the others whose decrees and rulings from afar have aided and abetted the mayhem and the massacres. Cowards all of you, and boring and petty to boot, at such a safe distance from the volleys, the salvos, the gunfire. Oh, the names I have had to learn — Sandy Hook and Columbine and Uvalde and so many hundreds more and even more after that, while you were careful to stay at a safe distance from the children as they fell. Not me, not me.... Read more

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Mon, 08/07/2024 - 07:29

Many war stories end with hunger wreaking havoc on significant portions of a population. In Christian theology, the Biblical “four horses of the apocalypse,” believed by many in early modern Europe to presage the end of the world, symbolized invasion, armed conflict, and famine followed by death. They suggest the degree to which people have long recognized how violence causes starvation. Armed conflict disrupts food supplies as warring factions divert resources to arms production and their militaries while destroying the kinds of infrastructure that enable societies to feed themselves. Governments, too, sometimes use starvation as a weapon of war. (Sound familiar? I’m not going to point fingers here because most of us can undoubtedly recall recent examples.) As someone who... Read more

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Thu, 04/07/2024 - 23:43

Wherever he travels globally, President Biden has sought to project the United States as the rejuvenated leader of a broad coalition of democratic nations seeking to defend the “rules-based international order” against encroachments by hostile autocratic powers, especially China, Russia, and North Korea. “We established NATO, the greatest military alliance in the history of the world,” he told veterans of D-Day while at Normandy, France on June 6th. “Today… NATO is more united than ever and even more prepared to keep the peace, deter aggression, defend freedom all around the world.” In other venues, Biden has repeatedly highlighted Washington’s efforts to incorporate the “Global South” — the developing nations of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East — into... Read more

Tue, 02/07/2024 - 23:36

In mid-June, the Associated Press announced that the U.S. Navy had been engaged in the most intense naval combat since the end of World War II, which surely would come as a surprise to most Americans. This time, the fighting isn’t taking place in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans but in the Red Sea and the adversary is Yemen’s — yes, Yemen’s! — Shiite party-militia, the Helpers of God (Ansar Allah), often known, thanks to their leading clan, as the Houthis. They are supporting the Palestinians of Gaza against the Israeli campaign of total war on that small enclave, while, in recent months, they have faced repeated air strikes from American planes and have responded by, among other things, attacking... Read more

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Mon, 01/07/2024 - 07:00

I’ve been writing about climate change for so many years now but, in truth, it was always something I read about and took in globally. It was happening out there, often in horrific ways, but not what I felt I was living through myself. (It’s true that, in past winters, Manhattan’s Central Park went 653 days without producing an inch of snow, almost double any previous record, but if you’re not a kid with a sled in the closet, that’s the sort of thing you don’t really feel.) However, that’s begun to change. As it happens, like so many other New Yorkers, I only recently experienced a June heat dome over my city. Here in Manhattan, where I walk many... Read more

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Thu, 27/06/2024 - 23:35

Officials and election experts are now struggling in a big-time way. How, they wonder, can they effectively address mounting threats — of violence, election denialism, foreign influence, and voter discrimination? Do they run the risk of alarming the public to the point of reducing voter turnout? Are there reasons to assuage fears about either election disinformation or possible election interference in 2024? Standing in Pointe du Hoc, France, to mark the anniversary of D-Day, President Biden told the world that those who fought in that pivotal battle are “asking us to do our job: to protect freedom in our time, to defend democracy.” Election security would be a good place to start. Perhaps one way to assess the question of election... Read more

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