World

Greece: Only the 'No' Can Save the Euro

As Greece prepares for a referendum on its creditors' demands for austerity, the future of Europe hangs in the balance. 

AP Photo/Petros Karadjias
AP Photo/Petros Karadjias Pedestrians walk by posters for the NO vote in the upcoming referendum, in central Athens, on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. G reece is heading toward a referendum on Sunday on which the future of the country and its elected government will depend, and with the fate of the euro and the European Union also in the balance. At present writing, Greece has missed a payment to the IMF, negotiations have broken off, and the great and good are writing off the Greek government and calling for a “Yes” vote, accepting the creditors' terms for “reform,” in order to “save the euro.” In all of these judgments, they are, not for the first time, mistaken. To understand the bitter fight, it helps first to realize that the leaders of today's Europe are shallow, cloistered people, preoccupied with their local politics and unequipped, morally or intellectually, to cope with a continental problem. This is true of Angela Merkel in Germany, of François Hollande in France, and it is true...

Black Lives Matter: Responding to the Dominican Deportation Crisis

Protests erupt worldwide as more than 200,000 people of Haitian descent may soon be deported from the Dominican Republic. 

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell Haitians wait for the opening of the border between Jimani, Dominican Republic, and Malpasse, Haiti, on a market day, Thursday, June 18, 2015. M isma isla, misma raza is Spanish for “same island, same people” and it’s one of the rallying cries of the hundreds who gathered in Washington, D.C., on June 22 to protest the citizenship crisis happening right now in the Dominican Republic. Haitians, and those descended from Haitians, are being denationalized while the threat of deportations looms. In September 2013, a Dominican high court ruled that anyone born after 1929 to undocumented parents were not citizens. With the government’s June 17 registration deadline now passed, an estimated 200,000 people are threatened with deportations and statelessness—and most of them are black. The crisis happening in the Dominican Republic affects two kinds of people. Black Dominicans born to Haitians or with Haitian grandparents and Haitian migrants who came to the Dominican...

The U.N. Gaza Report: Grim, but Even-Handed

AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File
AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File In this July 29, 2014 file photo, smoke and fire from an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City. P oliticians, speechwriters and even some headline-writers had their reactions ready in advance—or so it appeared when the McGowan Davis Report on last summer's war in Gaza was published this week by the U.N. Human Rights Council. Why bother studying it when prejudging is so much easier? "Flawed and biased" is how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly labeled the report. A week earlier, Netanyahu said that reading the report would be a waste of time, so one can reasonably doubt that he bothered doing so. Some government spokespeople initially referred to it as the Schabas Report, as if it had been written by the original chair of the investigating panel—Canadian law professor William Schabas—who quit months ago when it emerged that he'd done paid legal work for the PLO. The mass-circulation tabloid Yediot Aharonot 's oversized headline called it "The...

Why Losing TPP Won't Hurt the U.S. in Asia

TPP is a big deal, but not for American foreign policy. 

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images
The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama hold a summit meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. on April 28, 2015. T he failure of the House of Representatives last week to accept the president’s proposals for approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal (TPP) he has long been negotiating, has resulted in a cloudburst of baleful predictions of the collapse of American foreign policy and the complete impotency of the rest of the Obama presidency. You would think that while the trade provisions were controversial, there was unanimity on the premise that TPP is a foreign policy imperative. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers likened the vote to rejection by the Congress of President Woodrow Wilson’s proposal for a League of Nations after World War I. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks said the vote against the president would help China dominate Asia. Speaking at a Washington think...

This is What Happens When Abortion is Outlawed

Restrictive anti-abortion laws in states like Texas are forcing women into dangerous situations. 

AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca
AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca A man walks past the former site of a clinic that offered abortions in El Paso, Texas, Friday, October 3, 2014. Abortion services for many Texas women require a round trip of more than 200 miles, or a border-crossing into Mexico or New Mexico after federal appellate judges allowed full implementation of a law that has closed more than 80 percent of Texas' abortion clinics. I n Paraguay, a 10-year-old rape victim is denied an abortion —even though her stepfather is her attacker. In El Salvador, suicide is the cause of death for 57 percent of pregnant females between ages 10 and 19. In Nicaragua, doctors are anxious about even treating a miscarriage. All of these instances are the result of draconian abortion laws that have outlawed critical reproductive care in nations throughout Latin America. If stories like these seem remote to American readers, it’s because they’ve been largely eliminated through widespread access to basic abortion services beginning in...

Bad Faith

Why real debt relief is not on the table for Greece. 

Sipa via AP Images
Sipa via AP Images Angela Merkel, German chancellor, and Greece Primer Minister Alexis Tsipras give a joint press conference, after the meeting, at the German chancellery on March 23, 2015, in Berlin. R eaders of the financial press may be forgiven for thinking that the negotiations between Greece and Europe have one feckless partner—the new government of Greece—and one responsible partner, a common front of major governments and creditor institutions, high-minded in their pursuit of rational policies and the common European interest. The view from Athens is different. On June 11, I attended the hearing of a Greek parliamentary commission investigating the Greek debt. Phillipe Legrain, former adviser to the then-EU President José Manuel Barroso, testified. Legrain is a technocrat, an economist, and a very reserved individual. He spoke in measured tones. The original crime in the Greek affair, Legrain said, was committed in May 2010, when it became clear that the country was insolvent...

What is Reform? The Strange Case of Greece and Europe

Why creditors' demands would only prolong Greece's crisis. 

AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis
AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis Ruined EU and Greek flags fly in tatters from a flag pole at a beach at Anavissos village, southwest of Athens, on Monday, March 16, 2015. O n our way back from Berlin on Tuesday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis remarked to me that current usage of the word “reform” has its origins in the middle period of the Soviet Union, notably under Khrushchev, when modernizing academics sought to introduce elements of decentralization and market process into a sclerotic planning system. In those years when the American struggle was for rights and some young Europeans still dreamed of revolution, “reform” was not much used in the West. Today, in an odd twist of convergence, it has become the watchword of the ruling class. The word, reform, has now become central to the tug of war between Greece and its creditors. New debt relief might be possible—but only if the Greeks agree to “reforms.” But what reforms and to what end? The press has generally tossed around the...

Derailment on the Fast Track

Passing TPP just became a lot more difficult.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais President Barack Obama speaks during his meeting with leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries on the sidelines of the APEC summit, Monday, November 10, 2014 in Beijing. Editor's Note: On the afternoon of June 12, the House defeated Trade Adjustment Assistance , 302 to 126 with only 40 Democrats voting in favor. Although House Speaker John Boehner vows to hold another vote on TAA next week following the House's passage of trade promotion authority, also on June 12, the vote puts the larger Trans-Pacific Partnership into serious jeopardy. I t’s now looking increasingly like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will go down to defeat. The first hurdle is the House vote scheduled for Friday on trade promotion authority, popularly known as fast-track, giving the executive branch an up-or-down vote in Congress on its Pacific trade deal. In recent days, as President Obama turned up the heat on about a dozen House Democrats, it looked as if...

Why Bibi and the BDS Movement Need Each Other

The boycott movement provides Israel's prime minister with a useful enemy, and he reciprocates with valuable publicity.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 15th Herzeliya Conference in Herzeliya, Israel, Tuesday, June 9, 2015. " We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the State of Israel," Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a statement to the media before a recent cabinet meeting. A warning like that from Israel's prime minister isn't new. Neither was his identifying the threat as a modern expression of eternal anti-Semitism. "It is not connected to our actions. It is connected to our very existence. ... Now, this is a phenomenon that we have known in the history of our people. ... They said we are the foundation of evil in the world. They said that we are the poisoners of the wells of humanity." That's all classic Netanyahu rhetoric. The twist was that he wasn't talking about the Iranian regime, but about what he portrayed as a powerful international campaign to isolate and boycott Israel. Why now? In comparison, Netanyahu's "this is 1938 and...

Why Voluntary Standards Won't Make the Global Garment Industry Safer

After voluntary codes of conduct failed to prevent the Rana Plaza disaster, garment companies pass the blame. 

AP Photo/A.M. Ahad
AP Photo/A.M. Ahad In this Monday, April 20, 2015 photo, Mahamudul Hasan Ridoy, 27, who worked at Rana Plaza, the garment factory building that collapsed, walks with the help of a crutch at the site of the accident in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. O n Monday, June 1, police in Bangladesh filed murder and other charges against the owners of the Rana Plaza building, the landlord of the factories that collapsed two years ago, killing at least 1,138 workers and injuring about 2,500. The collapse was a spectacular moment in a sordid history of fires and collapses in the Bangladesh and global garment industry. The cutthroat competition of that industry is a furnace that fuels thousands of deaths and injuries. Last weekend, by coincidence, a conference was held at Harvard, called Transformation Challenges and Opportunities for the Bangladesh Garment Industry. Attending were Bangladesh cabinet members and the heads of two major safety initiatives—The “Accord” and the “Alliance”—as well as...

The Limits of Rand Paul's Constitutional Convictions

Posing as defender of the Bill of Rights, the presidential hopeful steers clear of grandstanding on popular measures he deems unconstitutional.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Republican presidential candidate, Republican Senator Rand Paul pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, to call for the 28 classified pages of the 9-11 report to be declassified. I n the political world, legislative hijinks, oratorical grandstanding, and intramural savagery are nothing new. But when U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the Republican presidential candidate, scuttled the passage of a bill that would have renewed the USA PATRIOT Act on May 31, he brought those three methods together in the service of an electoral campaign the polls give him long odds of winning, and in a way that aimed fusillades of personal ambition even closer to the heart of American democracy than is customary—especially for a first-termer. As long as C-SPAN has existed, denizens of the U.S. Capitol have recognized the value of staging floor speeches designed for capture by the television cameras. But Paul upped the ante in 2013 with his 13-...

Marco Rubio's Far-Right Foreign Policy Gambit

The GOP hopeful wants 2016 to be all about Iran and Cuba. 

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention, Friday, May 15, 2015, in Athens, Georgia. I f the GOP field seemed obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2012, there’s a good chance that 2016 will be all about undoing President Obama’s foreign policy. With the ACA now firmly entrenched in the American political psyche—not to mention American law—Republican frontrunners have taken aim on Obama’s record on Iran, Cuba, and Syria. Like the battle over who was more vigorously opposed to Obamacare, Republicans will first use foreign policy as a way to whittle down their own crowded playing field, writes Steve Inskeep at npr.org. Naturally, this strategy is a risky one. Competing to see who can go furthest right on foreign affairs may play well in the primaries, but it can make the GOP nomination that much less palatable come November 2016. If there’s a progressive silver lining in this story, it’s here:...

The Soldier's Story

What happens when one corporal speaks out about how the occupation corrupts Israel.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit Members of an Israeli military honor guard conduct a rehearsal ahead of a Memorial Day ceremony at Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 20, 2015. C orporal Shachar Berrin's commander in the Israeli army sentenced him to a week in prison. His brother emailed me to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised when the story eventually broke in the news. Shachar's offense, as handwritten on a disciplinary form, was participating "in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media." That's partly true: He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn't a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians. "When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people... I think that seeps in...

How Solar Is Lighting the Way for Recovery in Nepal

Renewable energy companies have formed a coalition to repower the country after its massive earthquake. 

(Photo: Milap Dwa)
(Photo: Milap Dwa) Milap Dwa and Chij Kumar​, technicians from Gham Power​, installing a 120-watt solar PV system kit on top of one of the few houses in Barpak, Gorkha, that are still standing. I n the days following Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 25, as massive power outages complicated relief efforts, Sandeep Giri and his coworkers were shaken but determined to help. Giri, who was born and raised in Nepal, is the CEO of Gham Power , a solar company that’s been operating in Nepal for the last five years. After the earthquake, Gham Power’s employees sprung into action to deploy solar power systems that could power lights and mobile charging stations for relief workers and the displaced. Besides basic needs like medical attention, food, water, and shelter, electricity is a major issue in the wake of a disaster, says Giri. “First, you don't want to be in the dark, as it's scary, you don't feel safe, and it is also very cumbersome to get or administer relief without light...

Why Everyone Wants the Military Budget to Be Bigger

It's not about "defense." 

Vito Palmisano/Getty
Vito Palmisano/Getty N ow that we've finally ( almost ) clarified who would have invaded Iraq and who wouldn't have, it's time for a little perspective. Yes, it's a good thing that elite Republicans are moving toward agreeing with the rest of us that invading Iraq was a mistake, even if they base their argument on the myth of "faulty intelligence." But there's another consensus in Washington, one that says that our military should never be anything short of gargantuan, ready to start more wars whenever a future George W. Bush wants to. At the end of last week, the House passed a defense authorization bill worth $612 billion, a number that was possible to reach only with some budgetary hocus-pocus involving classifying $89 billion of it as "emergency" spending, thereby avoiding the cuts mandated by sequestration. While the White House has objected to the way the bill moves money around, that $612 billion number is exactly what President Obama asked for. Even the guy who's supposedly...

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