2017 Will be an Important Year for Universal Basic Income

Over the coming year, Oakland, Finland, the Netherlands and Ontario will trial Universal Basic Income (UBI) programs. Glasgow and Fife councils in Scotland are considering similar programs. And its not just governments; an independent initiative in San Francisco called My Basic Income is currently fundraising and inviting entrees for its second $15,000 basic income sweepstakes.

The concept of universal basic income is relatively simple. Continue reading “2017 Will be an Important Year for Universal Basic Income”

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Seventh Fatah Conference Underscores Profound Disconnect Between Abbas and his People

On November 29th, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, held its seventh congress. The congress had been presented by some as an opportunity to shake up the entrenched and out of touch leadership of the party and renew the Palestinian national struggle.

Such a shakeup is desperately needed. Palestinians in the occupied territories have been denied a democratic voice since the 2006 legislative elections and Fatah party chairman Mahmoud Abbas has overstayed his term as PA president by eight years. Abbas has faced mounting criticism over his continued pursuit of a failed negotiations strategy and increasingly autocratic style of governance. However, on the first day of the congress, delegates unanimously reappointed Abbas as chairman of Fatah for another five-year term.   Continue reading “Seventh Fatah Conference Underscores Profound Disconnect Between Abbas and his People”

Israeli Leaders Blame Palestinians for Fires Without a Shred of Evidence

Fires raged across Israel and the occupied West Bank last month, causing serious damage to property and destroying thousands of acres of natural forests. Immediately, Israeli government officials and members of the Israeli media began blaming Palestinians for setting the fires, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing them as an “arson intifada” and the police positing that they were lit on “nationalistic grounds.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett took the fires as an opportunity to deny Palestinian claims to their homeland, stating that “only those to whom this land does not belong could burn it.” Continue reading “Israeli Leaders Blame Palestinians for Fires Without a Shred of Evidence”

A Pro-Israel Anti-Semite? Not as Strange as you Might Think

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President-Elect Donald Trump

While President-elect Donald Trump has made lots of news this week as he begins his transition to the White House, one appointment has stood above the rest. Trump has appointed Steve Bannon, his campaign CEO and executive chairman of the white nationalist and anti-Semitic website Breitbart News, to the position of “chief strategist.” Steve Bannon is an idol of the white nationalist right and holds deeply anti-Semitic views. In addition to dealing in common anti-Semitic tropes on Breitbart News, Bannon reportedly refused to enroll his daughter in a school because of “the number of Jews that attend.” Upon news of his appointment, the head of the Anti-Defamation League immediately and strongly opposed his appointment on the grounds of his virulently racist views. Even the staunchly pro-Israel and right wing AIPAC was “apoplectic” about his appointment. However, the news website Bannon runs  was conceived in Israel, is avowedly pro-Israel (featuring a particularly right-wing Zionist narrative) and even has a Jerusalem bureau. Continue reading “A Pro-Israel Anti-Semite? Not as Strange as you Might Think”

Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail

This Monday, the Lebanese parliament formally appointed former general and civil war-era warlord Michel Aoun president of Lebanon. His appointment ended a stalemate between Lebanon’s major parties and politicians that had kept the post vacant for two and a half years. While it has mostly been presented in western media as the triumph of the Hezbollah and Iran backed Aoun over the Saudi backed Hariri, the election of Aoun says more about the heart of the Lebanese political system than it does about regional power struggles. Lebanon was founded in 1943 based on agreements between political and social elites hoping to protect their networks of power and privilege within their own communities. These agreements still define the logic of Lebanese politics today. The path of Michel Aoun, a man who bears significant personal responsibility for the death of hundreds, to the presidency highlights just how well this system still protects the interests of political elites and how poorly it works for the people of Lebanon. Continue reading “Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail”

Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat

For many Palestinians, the experience of being displaced is not a singular event in the past but an ongoing process. Many Palestinians who became refugees in the Nakba in 1948 were displaced once again in the 1967 June War, Black September in 1971, or the Lebanese Civil War. The Syrian Civil war is the latest incident of mass Palestinian displacement. Syria was once home to more than half a million Palestinian refugees and was an important political, economic and social base for the exiled Palestinian national movement. While lacking citizenship, Palestinian refugees received relatively wide-ranging rights in Syria. However, fleeing alongside Syrians during the ongoing civil war, Palestinian Refugees from Syria (PRS) have faced special hardship due to their Palestinian identity and lack of citizenship. Continue reading “Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat”

Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.

Image: “The enemy’s gas is occupation” [via Jordan BDS

Recently, Jordan’s government-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15 year, $10 billion deal to import Israeli-extracted liquid natural gas. In the eyes of the appointed government of the Hashemite Kingdom, the deal is a boon. Jordan is a notoriously resource poor country, having to import 96% of its energy needs from other countries. In previous decades, Saddam Hussain’s Iraq and Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt provided subsidized fuel to fill the country’s energy needs. However, according to the Jordanian government, the loss of these providers and the damage to gas pipelines due to recent unrest in the Sinai have caused NEPCO to rack up billions of dollars in debt. At the same time, energy prices have steadily risen for Jordanians. The government claims that this deal will lower energy costs and save NEPCO $600 million a year.

Despite these supposed benefits, the deal has caused widespread and unified protests of a scale unseen in Jordan since the start of the Arab Spring. Continue reading “Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.”