Sunday, April 23, 2017

The British and French Elections, The West Wing and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List April 16 - 23

This week's list of articles, news items and opinion pieces that I see as must reads if you are looking for a roundup that should be of interest to The Left Chapter readers.

This list covers the week of April 16 - April 23. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.

1) Far-left veteran Melenchon draws big crowd as French election enters final straight

Johanna Decorse and Emmanuel Jarry, Reuters 

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon drew tens of thousands to a rally on Sunday, aiming to maintain momentum that has pushed the one-time outsider into contention in the French presidential election, with the first round of voting a week away.

Read the full article.


Luke Savage, Current Affairs

In the history of prestige tv, few dramas have had quite the cultural staying power of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing.

Set during the two terms of fictional Democratic President and Nobel Laureate in Economics  Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen) the show depicts the inner workings of a sympathetic liberal administration grappling with the daily exigencies of governing. Every procedure and protocol, every piece of political brokerage—from State of the Union addresses to legislative tugs of war to Supreme Court appointments—is recreated with an aesthetic authenticity enabled by ample production values (a single episode reportedly cost almost $3 million to produce) and rendered with a dramatic flair that stylizes all the bureaucratic banality of modern governance.

Read the full article.

3) Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet

Bill McKibben, The Guardian

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.

Read the full article.

4) Nuclear war has become thinkable again – we need a reminder of what it means

Paul Mason, The Guardian

Last week, Donald Trump deployed his superweapon Moab, the “mother of all bombs” – 10 tonnes of high explosive detonated in mid-air in such a way as to kill, it is claimed, 94 Isis militants. The Russian media immediately reminded us that their own thermobaric bomb – the “father of all bombs” – was four times as powerful: “Kids, meet Daddy,” was how the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today put it. But these are child’s play compared with nuclear weapons. The generation waking up to today’s Daily Mail strapline – “World holds its breath” – may need reminding what a nuclear weapon does.

Read the full article.

5) Fightback against austerity is essential

The Treaty 6 Justice Collective, Regina Leader-Post

There are moments in history when local politics have national, and even international, significance. Saskatchewan is currently living one of those moments.

Read the full article.

6) Ottawa police won’t protect abortion clinic despite pleas

Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star

One block away from Parliament Hill, even as Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai won over MPs in the House of Commons on April 12 by crying out for the rights of girls, a cruel and abhorrent scene was playing out on the street.

Read the full article.

7) Jeremy Corbyn says he will break political rules to overturn the ‘rigged system’

Jon Stone, The Independent 

Jeremy Corbyn will promise to overturn “the wealth extractors’ rigged system” of politics and prove his critics wrong by breaking the rules of the "cosy cartel" that runs British politics.

Read the full article. 

8) If you think "sex work is work", how can you be against sex for rent?

Glosswitch, New Statesman

The mainstream left has no right to be shocked about sex for rent. It’s the logical conclusion of a pseudo-feminist politics which refuses to engage fully with power and labour redistribution.

Read the full article.

9) Once-pristine Arctic Ocean contains 300 billion pieces of plastic, study suggests

Ian Johnston, The Independent

Hundreds of billions of pieces of plastic are floating in the once-pristine Arctic, according to a new study, in a startling indication of how polluted the planet has become.

Read the full article.

10) The Handmaid’s Tale Is a Warning to Conservative Women

Sarah Jones, New Republic

Like the Kingdom of God, the Republic of Gilead is both now and not yet. Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale conjures a theocratic dystopia—a version of the United States taken over by fundamentalist Christians after a terrorist attack on Washington. Women are now divided into rigid classes determined by an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible. Atwood’s protagonist, Offred, is a Handmaid—a fallen woman who is forced to bear children for righteous couples—and the book follows her sufferings under the Gilead regime. Atwood paints in garish strokes intended to shock: This new society calls homosexuality “gender treachery” and forbids women to read, own property, or choose their own clothing.

Read the full article.

11) Why calls for secularism in education is a facade

Sachin Maharaj and Nadir Shirazi, The Toronto Star

If the true intent is for our schools to be secular, we would move toward one publicly funded system in which all the major religious holidays of our students are recognized and celebrated.

Read the full article.

12) Jean-Luc Mélenchon should be French president. Here’s why

Olivier Tonneau, The Guardian

The leftwing politician is not out to destroy Europe: he is out to save it. La France Insoumise proposes a peaceful revolution towards a fair democratic society.

Read the full article.

13) America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

 Lynn Parramore, Institute of New Economic Thinking

A new book by economist Peter Temin finds that the U.S. is no longer one country, but dividing into two separate economic and political worlds.

Read the full article.

14) Let’s appreciate what the Fearless Girl represents, rather than tearing her down

Susan Cox, Feminist Current

Is the Fearless Girl statue facing down Wall Street’s Charging Bull a symbol of female empowerment or a corporate cooptation of it?

Read the full article.

15) Activist’s protest against practice of ‘carding’ derails Toronto police board meeting

Wendy Gillis, The Toronto Star

Meeting adjourned after journalist Desmond Cole refuses to leave following deputation. Of data collected on citizens by police, Cole said: “It was never your information to take in the first place.”

Read the full article.

16) Will We Abandon Women’s Rights in the Name of Progressive Politics?

Rebecca Traister, NY Magazine

The most disturbing thing to emerge from this week’s badly bungled Democratic “Unity Tour” staged by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and new DNC head Tom Perez was the fact that the only thing on which the two men seemed to easily agree was that reproductive rights are not necessarily fundamental to progressive politics. This led to uproar and outrage among some precincts of the left, and eventually to mea culpas and “clarifications” from Sanders and Perez. But it is worth closely examining this fight over the importance of reproductive rights in the party because it is an argument that the Democrats seem to rehash over and over and over again.

Read the full article.

17) In The First Week Of Election Campaigning, Corbyn Has Outperformed May Significantly

Kerry Lanigan-Coyle, The Huffington Post

Flying start - two words that sum up the beginning of Labour’s general election campaign. In five days, Jeremy Corbyn has shown he has the passion and the plan in place to transform Britain in the interests of the many.

Read the full article.

18) Sanders-Backing Socialist Wins Big In Georgia City Council Race

Daniel Marans, The Huffington Post

A leading Black Lives Matter activist and self-identified democratic socialist named khalid kamau won a city council seat on Tuesday in South Fulton, Georgia, a newly incorporated municipality outside Atlanta.

Read the full article.

While this article is from before the period covered, it is an important read and has been included as well:

19) Burmese Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi Has Turned Into an Apologist for Genocide Against Muslims

Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept

AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS ONE of the most celebrated human rights icons of our age: Nobel Peace Laureate, winner of the Sakharov Prize, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an Amnesty International-recognized prisoner of conscience for 15 long years.

These days, however, she is also an apologist for genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass rape.

Read the full article.

See also: Mélenchon, US Bombings, Christie Blatchford & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List April 9 - 16

See also: Syria, Trump, the JDL & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List April 2 - April 9

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