the shittiness of things

Category: Recommended Links

Recommended Links #2

>>To dismantle this huge and profitable system takes a lot of political will, and it’s hard to drive that bus when all the economic difficulties of the one-child policy—pension shortfalls, diminished workforce, quenched entrepreneurial vigor—are pending, but not immediate.

Another reason is the one-child policy’s worst effects and abuses have been on China’s poorest and most disenfranchised people. Educated urbanites have been shielded from a lot of the policy’s excesses, such as forced abortions and having their homes physically destroyed. City dwellers are also least interested in having large families—their jobs and income don’t depend on it, and housing in modern China is increasingly expensive. So the one-child policy simply hasn’t had that much of a backlash against it, certainly not among the middle classes and elites, whose views are the most influential. The 2008 Pew Research survey found roughly three in four Chinese approve of the policy—but bear in mind, the survey methodology acknowledged the sampling was disproportionately representative of China’s urban areas.<<

>>The struggle for access to medicine presents a legal and ethical minefield for rich and poor countries alike—one that is being fought out as humanitarians challenge corporations over intellectual property rights. A recent landmark decision by the Indian Supreme Court thrust that conflict into popular awareness. The ruling blocked a request by the global pharmaceutical giant Novartis for a patent on a Leukemia drug, Gleevec. The company claimed to be introducing a new formulation of the drug that warranted a fresh patent. But the court determined that the new Gleevec was virtually identical to the old one. This cleared the way for mass production of a much cheaper generic version. While a cancer patient in the United States might spend around $70,000 for Gleevec, India’s version could cost as little as $2,500.

The defeat of Novartis sent shockwaves across the drug industry. Companies have long structured their profit systems around an obscure set of intellectual property controls, and the ruling represented a growing global pushback against their political and commercial hegemony. The case raised a preeminent question in the struggle for global health equity: when the laws of commerce override the human right to medicine, can society protect public health from unbridled private markets?<<

Interview with a trade union activist in Kazakhstan, about the case of Roza Tuletaeva and other oil worker activists jailed after the 2011 strike and massacre at Zhanaozen.

An op-ed looking critically at the current protests while acknowledging the legitimate concerns and sincere motives of the majority of protestors.

The events of May 1980 in the South Korean city of Gwangju, which were a turning point in South Korea’s struggle for democracy, are still widely unknown in the West.

>>Just imagine if these events had happened in Venezuela, Belarus or Ukraine, or in any other country where the West’s political and financial elites desire ‘regime change’. We’d have had widespread media coverage and comment pieces from ‘liberal interventionists’ and neocon columnists, pledging their solidarity with the students, denouncing police actions and calling for sanctions to be imposed on the country, (or strengthened if they had already been applied). But when student protests are aggressively suppressed in Britain, when basic democratic rights are infringed before our very eyes, it’s a different story altogether.<<

>>In contrast with South Africa, which – consistent with Mandela’s vision – largely embraces its mix of whites, blacks, coloured, Asian and Indian populations (as well as Jews, Christians, Muslims and African ethnic groups such as  Xhosa and Zulu), the new state of Palestine will almost certainly be entirely Arab Muslim.  There will of course be no Jews and (if trends throughout ‘Palestine’ and the Arab Middle East continue) almost no Christians.

All of this leads us to conclude that while Palestine will likely not  become an apartheid state – as such state codified racism first requires the critical mass of racial diversity which they will not possess – it will become the kind of racial exclusivist state which Mandela and South Africa’s liberals found so abhorrent.<<

>>I’ve done some real soul-searching recently. By that, I mean trying to balance my understanding of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. My understanding of the Israeli narrative is deep and personal, so recently I endeavoured to understand the Palestinian narrative on the matter. In order to do this, I went to the Hamas-run “Palestinian Info Center” in the hope that I’d get some background on their perspective so I might understand their claim better. I went straight to the page “the History of Palestine”. The introduction was not meant for ‘any’ target audience- only Muslims. It was not only historically dubious, but most disturbingly it was rich in anti-Semitic allegations.<<


Education Education – Why Poverty?

A documentary worth watching, which gives insight into China’s educational system and into the relationship between education and poverty. This film is part of Why Poverty?, a project, which is aiming to encourage discussion about poverty by providing a range of documentaries dealing with this subject in some way or other in different parts of the world online for free. Behind this project is the non-profit organization Steps, which was also responsible for the similar project Why Democracy?. You can watch the trailer here. About “Education Education”:

>>Many Chinese parents see getting a degree as a way of ensuring their children have better, less impoverished lives than their own. But in 1997, the Chinese government privatised universities and education became a commodity.  It’s a money-making business where there’s a profit to be made…

The University Entrance Exams Day – the day students receive their results – often determines the future of one’s whole life. If you get good results, you get into the state-subsidised universities. If you don’t, there are other universities you can get into but they are more costly, often substandard, and run as lucrative businesses.

Some unscrupulous colleges employ marketing techniques to target poor, rural families who are often less streetwise to their tactics. More often than not, these families can’t afford the tuition fees and some end up selling livestock and even their homes to cover the cost of their child’s education.

But many colleges can’t live up to their promises and each year, more than two million graduates in China do not find work. For students and families who incurred debt while studying, education is no longer a way out of poverty but a cause of it.<<


Recommended Links #1

8 Reasons Leftists Should Be Pro-Israel

>>It was long ago time for Leftists to tear down the poster that features Israel as the demon-child of human rights abuse and repression. It is time for Leftists to become outraged not over Israel, but over the distortions and demonization of Israel on college campuses and at the United Nations and throughout the media and politics. It is time for Leftists to reject the treatment of Israel as a pariah, or Jews as bloodthirsty murderers, and time instead to welcome Israel into the community of nations as a full member, subject to the same criticism and praise as any other nation.<<

How Thatcher helped Pol Pot

>>After two and a half years in power, the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by the Vietnamese on Christmas Day, 1978. In the months and years that followed, the US and China and their allies, notably the Thatcher government, backed Pol Pot in exile in Thailand. He was the enemy of their enemy: Vietnam, whose liberation of Cambodia could never be recognised because it had come from the wrong side of the cold war. For the Americans, now backing Beijing against Moscow, there was also a score to be settled for their humiliation on the rooftops of Saigon.

To this end, the United Nations was abused by the powerful. Although the Khmer Rouge government (“Democratic Kampuchea”) had ceased to exist in January 1979, its representatives were allowed to continue occupying Cambodia’s seat at the UN; indeed, the US, China and Britain insisted on it.

Meanwhile, a Security Council embargo on Cambodia compounded the suffering of a traumatised nation, while the Khmer Rouge in exile got almost everything it wanted. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said: “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot.” The US, he added, “winked publicly” as China sent arms to the Khmer Rouge.<<

Nelson Mandela and Zionism

You think Mandela was an anti-Zionist? Think again.

Mandela’s Socialist Failure

Op-ed by Slavoj Žižek:

>>In South Africa, the miserable life of the poor majority broadly remains the same as under apartheid, and the rise of political and civil rights is counterbalanced by the growing insecurity, violence, and crime. The main change is that the old white ruling class is joined by the new black elite. Secondly, people remember the old African National Congress which promised not only the end of apartheid, but also more social justice, even a kind of socialism. This much more radical ANC past is gradually obliterated from our memory. No wonder that anger is growing among poor, black South Africans.<<

Ukraine: What’s going on, and what does it mean?

>>An inter-elite struggle between a pro-Russian faction and a pro-EU faction, the latter bringing out its supporters on the street, the former mainly – but not exclusively: there have been pro-Yanuchevych demonstrations) supporting itself by repression and bureaucratic rule. A youth revolt, expressing its anger and desires through a pro-European discourse; but with bits of horizontal and radical practices that point in an entirely different direction. An extremely reactionary eruption of anti-Russian chauvinism and generally nationalist politics, with bits of fascism clearly apparent. On the whole, a rather right wing revolt against a reactionary regime. But within the revolt, there are contradictions.<<

I Watched My Patients Die of Treatable Diseases Because They Were Poor

A heartbreaking piece about why a healthcare system based on capitalist principles is nothing short of mass murder.

Having Boycotted Israel, American Academics Must Now Boycott Themselves

>>Let’s assume—and we’ve no reason to assume otherwise—that the ASA’s council members are sincere in their outrage, that they believe—as they state repeatedly in their statement—that U.S. financial and military support for Israel is a key engine of the occupation, and that they wish to stand strong against American and Israeli colonialism alike. If they truly believe all that, why not start at home? A bit of morbid math, for example, will reveal that Israel has killed, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tzelem, 6,722 Palestinians between September of 2000 and October of 2013, while in Iraq alone, the United States Army may have claimed the lives of more than half a million civilians. It’s hardly an anomaly: even America’s fiercest defenders have to admit that while striving to live up to its promise as earth’s last best hope, this great nation has, on occasion, succumbed to greed, bloodlust, bigotry, and other serious ills. If the ASA is boycotting colonial powers, then it must boycott America, too—a move that would have even greater symbolic effect, since it would be done by an American organization of scholars employed by American universities and dedicated to American studies.<<

Evil IDF helps save Arab kids lives, yet again

>>Let’s work out the formula again:
Israel helping Arabs is good hasbara.
Hasbara is evil.
Therefore, Israel helping Arab kids is evil.
And if the kids end up not hating Israel, it is catastrophic.<<

The Syrian War and “Sectarianism”

>>When we insist in light of these facts that Syria’s conflict is not sectarian, we don’t mean to suggest that the religious hatred seen in Syria today is somehow just a myth. Instead, we are arguing that sectarian violence should be seen as the result of these specific political and economic developments, rather than their cause—something that we would instinctively recognize when thinking about parallel issues in our own country.<<

Smile or Die (Video)

Or, according to Upworthy, “why the religion of ‘positive thinking’ needs to be burned at the stake.”

Great Moments in Leftism

Satirical cartoons about the left by a leftist. I’m still undecided if it is a good or bad thing that I can so much relate to these cartoons.

While we’re on the subject of leftists making fun of their comrades:

From #leftfail

The Ugly Truth, Global Wealth Inequality

This is, of course, nothing new, but I personally think that this video manages to convey the general facts very well.