The Spectacle Blog

Cold War II? World War III?

By on 7.31.14 | 4:54PM

A reporter asked President Obama on Tuesday if ratcheted sanctions placed on Russia by America and the EU marked “a new Cold War.” The United Kingdom’s Common Defense Committee said Thursday that NATO is unprepared for further aggression from Russia. Roger Cohen of the New York Times has explained in the Atlantic why World War III is not so unimaginable after all. It has become apparent that Eastern Europe is unstable, and in a world knit tightly together by technology and treaties, that instability may prove for everyone inescapable.

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Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin Ruling

By on 7.31.14 | 1:42PM

With a five-to-two ruling today by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Governor Scott Walker won a major battle against the long-entrenched unions in his state. After a knock-out fight against a stubborn Democratic minority in the state assembly, during which assembly members pulled the ultimate media stunt and fled the state in protest, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Walker’s union law.

The 2011 law, which led to massive pro-union protests and a failed recall attempt, reached the state’s highest court after being upheld in appeals court twice. According to the opinion:

"No matter the limitations or 'burdens' a legislative enactment places on the collective bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation," Justice Michael Gableman wrote for the majority.

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Michael Walzer Lectures Israel About Civilian Casualties in Gaza

By on 7.31.14 | 11:49AM

In early 2002, only months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Michael Walzer penned an article in the socialist quarterly Dissent which asked, "Can There Be a Decent Left?"

Walzer answers his question in the negative in a piece written forThe New Republic concerning Israel's Operation Protective Edge. While Walzer does describe Hamas as "an awful organization and deserves all its trouble", he unhesitatingly places the Netanyahu government on the same moral plane as Hamas:

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Finally Some Good News From Iraq

By on 7.31.14 | 11:39AM

The Iraqi Sunnis who live under ISIS control may be preparing for a second "Sunni Awakening" after ISIS destroyed a treasured site of Mosul's religious heritage.

ISIS concluded a recent campaign of destruction by bombing a shrine at the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was revered by Christians, Shias, and Sunnis alike, and the tomb's public bombing has triggered a resistance campaign among Sunnis, according to the AFP. A group of students, businessmen, and young professionals have been joining Kataeb al-Mosul, the Mosul Brigades, to fight against ISIS. The group received both a new spirit and a new name with the bombing of the ancient tomb—the Nabi Yunus Army, after the prophet Jonah. 

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Red Sox Trade Lester to Oakland for Cespedes

By on 7.31.14 | 11:01AM

Big trade deadline news. It has been reported that the Boston Red Sox have traded ace lefthander Jon Lester along with outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A's for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

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Taxing Tea is Un-American; So is Taxing Soda

By on 7.31.14 | 10:57AM

Well-meaning though it may be, the federal government can never replace human responsibility and relationships. The New York Times ran an opinion piece Tuesday titled “Introducing the National Soda Tax.” Apparently Michael Bloomberg’s hope to ban big sodas lacked scope, and only a countrywide tax on the sale of saccharine swill will save us from ourselves. It’s an asinine abandonment of governmental first principles.

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How to Get Information Out of the EPA

By on 7.30.14 | 5:18PM

In January 2012, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Environmental Protection Agency asking for copies of correspondence between the EPA and various green groups active in the Marcellus Shale region. The request was filed on behalf of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the parent company of Watchdog.org. The FOIA asked the agency to provide us with “any discussion and correspondence with outside groups that concerns potential regulatory action that would impact the fracking process.”

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Ending The Israeli-Egyptian Blockade of Gaza Won’t Bring Peace

By on 7.30.14 | 4:18PM

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison calls upon Israel and Egypt to end their blockade of Gaza to achieve peace.

Ellison, the lone Muslim in Congress, says he has visited Gaza thrice since 2009 and "has not encountered anyone representing Hamas". Given Hamas' iron grip on Gaza I find this very hard to believe. Ellison acknowledges he has met with officials from the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). This would be the same UNRWA that has twice been found with Hamas rockets in their schools and then turned over the weapons back to Hamas.

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The Stupidity of Hash Tag Activism

By on 7.30.14 | 4:00PM

The World Cup ended weeks ago, but the next competition that has captured the spirit of voyeurism is midway through another round—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!

It's convenient, in a way, this affair with Gaza coming so close on the heels of the World Cup. Soccer and football fans alike had a few days to rest their vocal chords with some hot tea and lemon before the bellowing started up again. A few reporters probably relocated from South America to the south of Israel, but most viewers didn't even have to change the news channel to get​ near-continuous coverage of the next international contest. 

For those without front-row seats, media fall-out awaits, and with it comes #hashtagactivism. During the World Cup, #USA was automatically followed with an American flag on Twitter. Perhaps we could do the same thing now, using Israeli and Palestinian flags. That way, even the illiterate could decide which team to support. Better yet, this quick system of icons would make it easier to check which side your favorite celebrity is on. Here are a few to get us started.

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Latin American Double Standards on Israel & Syria

By on 7.30.14 | 2:30PM

In the past week, five Latin American countries have recalled their ambassadors to Israel in protest over Operation Protective Edge. Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru have all withdrawn their envoys in protest over what they view as acts of "collective punishment" and "use of disproportionate force".

Not to be outdone, Brazil was joined by Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela in issuing a statement during the Mercosur trading summit in Caracas condemning Operation Protective Edge. It is worth noting that Paraguay did not sign onto the statement.

David Harris of the American Jewish Committee blasted Mercosur for making no mention of Hamas and pointing out Venezuela's steadfast support for Syria.

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