Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Story of Independence takes Cannes

Leftist British director Ken Loach's latest film, Wind that Shakes the Barley, won the Palme D'Or (highest film award) at Cannes this year.

Eery in its parallels to modern day Iraq, this historic film tells the story of Ireland's War for Independence (1919-1922) the tragic aftermath of civil war that pitted various factions of the freedom fighters against one another. While the contemporary political relevance is palpable, the film also provides important social commentary missing from other films such as Michael Collins.

Check [Harry Browne's review in Counterpunch], for an indepth look at the film.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Arundhati Roy on Democracy Now

Arundhati Roy, the eloquent writer-activist, recently sat in a session of Democracy Now!, speaking at length and in greate detail about India, Iraq, U.S. Empire and Dissent. Her unequivocal support of resistance marks her as a genuinely fearless figure in a time of intimidation and threat against all dissenters.

Roy also recently spoke in the Hindu about the "rising fury across the country" against the corporatist rule of the Manmohan Singh regime. While providing a relief from the creeping fascism of the BJP years, Congress has only renewed the neoliberal project with an even more pronounced tilt to the US. This is perhaps one of the reasons that contributed to the massive Left victories in state elections this past month.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two Giants Pass Away

John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, former ambassador to India, and advisor to presidents from FDR to Clinton, recently passed away at the ripe old age of 97. See commentary here and here

Jane Jacobs, urban critic and community activist, also recently passed away at the age of 89. See commentary here and here.

What should be noted that both Galbraith's Affluent Society and Jane Jacobs' Dark Age Ahead, are even more relevant today as India and China's exploding middle classes binge on crass consumerism, without the necessary reinvestment into the public domain. So instead of all around development, you see pockets of private wealth surrounded by public squalor, as both countries repeat the same mistakes as the Western World.

Also, the motor-vehicle led development is leading to a dangerous over-dependence and over-consumption of oil. More pollution, more unhealthy sedentary lifestyles, and a faster speed of life might mean mobility, but at a huge cost.

Galbraith, a Canadian who settled in the US, and Jacobs, an American who settled in Canada, represent two visions that must be heeded as our global civilization approaches a decisive turning point.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Geographic illiteracy in the US


"Take Iraq, for example. Despite nearly constant news coverage since the war there began in 2003, 63 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 failed to correctly locate the country on a map of the Middle East. Seventy percent could not find Iran or Israel."

"Nine in ten couldn't find Afghanistan on a map of Asia."

Shouldn't you know where a country is located before destroying it? Can't even respect that??