International: January 2009 Archives

olivebranch.jpgI don't know much about Judaism, I admit, but I'm learning. The various festivals around food are obviously great - I love hamantaschen, plus the cheesecakes traditional on Shavuot - but more appealing still is the idea of tikkun olam, or "repairing the world". 

Many have taken this idea to imply or support environmentalism (obligatory Obama link), and Jay Michaelson has a great piece which drew my attention to the concept. The quote above is taken from his article.

As Knesset elections approach, and with some polls showing the local Greens strong enough to get elected, a green tinge to the results would surely also help strengthen the position of those seeking peace in the region.

A fleece revolution.

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fleecerevolution.jpgCalum thinks everyone's been awfully unfair on the Icelandic government, formerly part of the Arc of Prosperity. He supportively cites their President's view that it'll all be all right in Iceland long before Britain's economy recovers, and the view (from a friend of their Prime Minister's) that some of their problems are actually Gordon Brown's fault

Now the use of anti-terror legislation was clearly over the top, but that's just how New Labour rolls. Protests about climate change? Let's use anti-terrorism legislation. Someone didn't pick up some street chocolate? Parents pretending they live in the right catchment area? Get the anti-terrorism legislation out.

But a whole country complaining about it? Brown didn't send Iceland to Guantanamo, after all. It looks more like Iceland joined the Arc of Blaming Westminster instead. 

More seriously, the idea that Iceland is in a better position than us is rather undermined by the burgeoning "fleece revolution", backed by the local Left Green Party, demanding the resignation of Geir Haarde, the amusingly named Icelandic Prime Minister (Huffington Post, Guardian, Flickr). 

The old Icelandic model is over, just as the Brown model is over. The difficulty for the Nats is that they also took the exact same policy positions, enthusiastically supporting casino capitalism and offering to bend over backwards for the financial services industry however irresponsibly they behaved. 

If we'd been "Free in '93", in a Salmond-led Scotland, does anyone seriously doubt that a "kilt revolution" would have been gathering outside Bute House right now?

Listening to Obama.

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Over the last month I've been listening to Obama reading the two volumes of his autobiography. It's an incredibly intimate experience, the autobiographical audiobook read by the author, with the future President telling his life story, with his impressions of his African family and his vivid anecdotes mingling with a broader understanding of the world outside the USA than any President before him.

I recommend the two books to you. The first one, Dreams From My Father, would be a fascinating work even if the author wasn't the President-elect. The latter, The Audacity of Hope, is more safe, more careful: Obama was already a Senator, and so while his meditations on the US Constitution are interesting to the anoraks amongst us, it reads more like a manifesto and less like a passionate memoir.

Here's an excerpt from the first book. The author is nine years old, living in Indonesia, when his mother visits the US Embassy.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the International category from January 2009.

International: December 2008 is the previous archive.

International: February 2009 is the next archive.