I wrote a little blog post on the delightful picture - from 1947 - of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with Nayantara Sahgal and Rita Dar, the daughters of Vijayalakshmi Pandit, thanks to Nayantara, which you can read here.
Nayantara has an important essay in Githa Hariharan's LeftWord Books collection From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity (2015). I had that book nearby when I was putting together my report on the hunger strike in Palestine, now entering its 24th day. It is a strike that has received almost no serious coverage, little concern for the strikers and even less for their important demands. Instead, attention flared up when what seems to be a faked video of one of the leaders of the strike - Marwan Barghouti - was released by the Israelis. It showed a man supposedly eating. But even this assault on the integrity of the strikers has not made a dent. Near the illegal settlement of Beit El, just north of Ramallah, young people made a mural of Marwan's face (see the picture below). The mural is made of broken glass. That reminded me of a Mahmoud Darwish poem, Beirut, which says that the fighters will be 'born from broken glass'.
At Alternet, I have a second report on the Palestinian hunger strike. In this report I not only go over the canard about Marwan, but also quote from the smuggled letter by Muhammad al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist held in prison who went on hunger strike last year for 94 days. You can read my report here.
It was of course a relief to have Le Pen defeated in the French election, but it was even more heartening to see the French Left - including the trade unions - arrive on the streets the next day to remind the new government that its labour policy is execrable. There is little room for jubilation. Macron is pledged to fire 120,000 public sector workers. This is hardly the recipe for the future. It will merely set the stage for more anger, more drift towards the harshness of Le Pen - unless the Left is able to create space for the discontent and channel it into a serious project.
No such easy possibility in the United States. Trump's firing of the FBI director is of note. However, this is the FBI - the political police. Hardly an institution over whom one should shed tears. But the scalpel is out. Trump might have his eyes on the FBI for personal and partisan reasons. But the 'deconstruction of the administrative' state is ongoing. The State Department has already felt the edge. In the current issue of Frontline, I have a report on the cuts and the morale at the US State Department. You can read it here.
Last week I was in Berkeley, where I gave a talk on The Final Administration. This was when Trump's 'armada' had finally arrived in the Sea of Japan. It was also before the election of Moon Jae-in as the president of South Korea. I doubt very much that his election - with his mandate to lessen tensions in the Korean peninsula - will impact Trump's foreign policy. There is not only the 'madman theory' of Donald Trump to contend with, but also the dangerous posturing of Shinzo Abe - the grandson of Japanese war criminal Kishi Nobusuke, whose war career was also spent in Korea tracking down Kim Il-sung,the grandfather of the current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. These are dynasties in struggle, political tendencies in contention. At the Berkeley lecture, I spoke of the dangers of The Final Administration and the Resistance that is growing against it. You could listen to the talk here.
Yesterday, Henry Kissinger went to see Donald Trump. The media was rushed in to photograph the meeting. Which maps did they go over, which countries did they decide to bomb?
So it goes.
PS: Please have a look at the new website of the People's Archive of Rural India. Don't forget to visit us at LeftWord Books, where we have an entire set of new books for your interest (more on that soon when Sudhanva and I sent off our letter).