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Archive | December, 2009

What Was Really Decided in Copenhagen?

  Detailed accounts from participants in the recent Copenhagen climate summit are still coming in, but a few things are already quite clear, even as countries step up the blame game in response to the summit’s disappointing conclusion. First, the 2 1/2 pages of diplomatic blather that the participating countries ultimately consented to “take note” […]

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Iran’s Independence and the Nuclear Dispute

The nuclear dispute between Iran and the United States is heating up. Iran made its proposal on December 12, having been in negotiation with the US and other powers since October 1.  Iran proposed exchanging 400 kilograms of its 3.5 percent enriched uranium for an equivalent amount of 20 percent enriched uranium to be used […]

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Is War the Answer to a Depression?

  Paul Jay: One of the big issues about the stimulus and government expenditure is the debate over military expenditure.  People say that World War 2 helped to get America out of the 1930s depression.  So, forget the kind of moral issues, ethical issues, or issues of international law — this expansion into Afghanistan may […]

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New York Times Op-Ed Calls for War on Iran

The New York Times published an op-ed today that calls for war against Iran. Alan J. Kuperman, director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin, argues that the unraveling of the uranium enrichment agreement proves that the United States must conduct air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent […]

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Disturbing the Peace of the Graveyard

In Colombia there is an expression: la paz del cementerio — the peace of the graveyard.  This is the kind of peace that powerful forces enjoy when everyone who resists them is dead and buried. Colombia’s government and its military and paramilitary forces have spent decades working diligently for this kind of peace.  They’re so […]

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Shambles in Copenhagen

The United Nations conference to address climate change in Copenhagen over the last week has illustrated several crucial features of contemporary politics, as Obama completes a year in power, the NATO plots a military surge into the war spanning from Palestine to Afghanistan, and an economic recovery staggers along. Three Features of Political Climate First, […]

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Labor Movement?

The 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States (and especially Tables 574 to 650), published by the US Census Bureau, provides many statistics that can update understanding of today’s working class and possibilities of its movement.  The Abstract counts 154 million people as members of the US labor force in 2008.  Of these, 129 million […]

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Military Expenditure of Iran

Iranian Defence Expenditure

  The following table shows Iranian defence expenditure in each year since 1989 in local currency and constant US$ as well as the military burden, defined as spending as a proportion of GDP. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in 2007 Iran’s defence expenditure was one of the lowest in the Middle […]

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Military Balance

No Military Solution to Conflicts in West Asia

The nature of the current wars in the wider western Asian area reveals a disturbing trend: next to sources of conflict between states there are an increasing number of conflicts within them.  In Yemen, the civil war has had a ripple effect throughout the Persian Gulf region provoking the military intervention of Saudi Arabia and […]

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Notes on Swim Politics in Iran

A fascinating social history of swimming pools in northern United States that was published in 2007 deserves attention from Iran researchers.  Contested Waters showed how, between the World Wars, middle class expansion/empowerment in general and eroticization/gender de-segregation at public pools popularized swim facilities that excluded African Americans.  Earlier in the century, women, not Blacks, had […]

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The Grace of Damascus

If former US president George W. Bush had tuned in to the English broadcast on Syrian TV on Saturday he would have clearly frowned at seeing Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri in Damascus, being greeted warmly as a guest of honour by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. The footage would probably make him furious — […]

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Manchester: Back to No Future

  Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain, by Kevin Cummins, is a book of photographs of Manchester’s music scene over the last thirty years, with weighty prose by the likes of Paul Morley and Stuart Maconie, participants and witnesses all.  It was published in autumn 2009 in London by Faber. The photos […]

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Curing Post-Copenhagen Hangover

In Copenhagen, the world’s richest leaders continued their fiery fossil fuel party last Friday night, ignoring requests of global village neighbors to please chill out. Instead of halting the hedonism, Barack Obama and the Euro elites cracked open the mansion door to add a few nouveau riche guests: South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, China’s Wen Jiabao […]

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The Barefoot Doctors of Rural China

  Cf.  “In Mao’s era the health of the population was one of the country’s proudest boasts.  But the market-oriented reforms of the 1980s and 1990s gradually shattered the country’s social safety nets, including its once famous healthcare system, making it difficult for many rural and urban residents to afford treatment.  In reaction to this, […]

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The Ecological Revolution

Beyond Ecological Imperialism

So the Copenhagen summit did not deliver any hope of substantive change, or even any indication that the world’s leaders are sufficiently aware of the vastness and urgency of the problem.  But is that such a surprise?  Nothing in the much-hyped runup to the summit suggested that the organisers and participants had genuine ambitions to […]

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