New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Staying Human

June 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Preparing to Sail to Gaza

by Kathy Kelly

Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training.  We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, “The Audacity of Hope.” Our team, and nine other ships’ crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans.  The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza’s sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza’s economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel’s staunchest ally. (more…)

Don’t Look Away…

June 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Kathy Kelly, Politics

The Siege of Gaza Must End

by Kathy Kelly

(Editor’s Note: This week on NCV, as part of a thematic series, we are featuring articles focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict and attendant issues, hoping to stimulate a dialogue and suggest potential ways forward.)

Later this month, I’m going to be a passenger on “The Audacity of Hope,” the USA boat in this summer’s international flotilla to break the illegal and deadly Israeli siege of Gaza. Organizers, supporters, and passengers aim to nonviolently end the brutal collective punishment imposed on Gazan residents since 2006 when the Israeli government began a stringent air, naval and land blockade of the Gaza Strip explicitly to punish Gaza’s residents for choosing the Hamas government in a democratic election. Both the Hamas and the Israeli governments have indiscriminately killed civilians in repeated attacks, but the vast preponderance of these outrages over the length of the conflict have been inflicted by Israeli soldiers and settlers on unarmed Palestinians. I was witness to one such attack when last in Gaza two years ago, under heavy Israeli bombardment in a civilian neighborhood in Rafah. (more…)

Top 10 Alternative “10 Best” Articles

April 01, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

The Pun is Mightier than the Sword

by Randall Amster

Discerning readers of the “progressive blogosphere” will likely have noticed a growing tendency to title articles in the form of “Top 10 Best…” or “10 Reasons to…” or “10 Ways to a Better…” Not only does this subtle push to headline articles in such a manner impact the habits of readers, but encouraging this sort of framework affects the ways that writers craft their essays. The resultant linearization of our attention spans and creative impulses alike is a disturbing trend that merits serious critical attention.

But you won’t find that here today. Instead, I’d like to explore this practice in such a way as to (hopefully) wear it out altogether. This may well be the last “10 Best…” article I ever write, and I feel compelled to do so with a methodology that is commensurate with the level of the trend itself. In other words, I am going to mock it mercilessly, in a vain attempt to render this one of the year’s “Top 10” pieces. I might dislike the tendency to quantify and rank, but since it exists I would at least like to be good at it! (more…)

Mexico Goes Back to the Land

February 17, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Peasant Farmers Grow Hope, Trust … and Food

by Gustavo Esteva

This is grim news: food prices are reaching record levels worldwide. The thousands of farmers who have killed themselves over the past decade seems to have no precedent. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s director, the goal to reduce the number of hungry people by half will only be achieved in 2050.

In Mexico, this is just another facet of the crisis that started in the 1980s, when the government dismantled its support for peasant farmers. “My obligation as minister of agriculture is to get rid of 10 million peasants,” declared Carlos Hank in 1991. “What are you going to do with them?” a journalist asked. “That is not my area of work,” he answered.

But no one assumed that responsibility. Vicente Fox, former president of Coca-Cola and president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, used to say “those peasants can be gardeners in Texas.” For him and other policymakers, Mexico had too many peasants; America, their model, was producing food for the world with only 2.5% of the labor force. In 1992 they opened to the private market the land which had been in the hands of peasants since the 1910 revolution. The North American Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in 1994, consolidated this anti-peasant orientation in the name of free market. (more…)

I Have Just Two Words for You…

February 04, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper, Politics

“The Commons” — Lifeblood of Our Communities

by Jay Walljasper

Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you know the line from The Graduate when Benjamin, the befuddled recent college grad, is accosted by one of his dad’s friends with this unsolicited career advice: “I want to say one word to you … Plastics!”

Well, I’m feeling the same way about two words: “The Commons!”

The commons means “all that we share and the ways we share it” — an immense bounty of wealth that belongs to each of us. This covers air and water, national parks and city streets, scientific knowledge and the latest dance steps.

And I believe the spirit and practice of the commons is crucial to making our cities and towns better places for everyone to live. All the places where people connect in our neighborhoods — sidewalks, parks, coffeeshops, community gardens, libraries, bike trails, transit, even the streets — are commons. And so are all the ways we connect — activist groups, online networks, informal gatherings, recreational activities. (more…)

A Hopeful Picture in Israel?

January 25, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Lia Tarachansky, Politics

Polls and Protests Point to Positive Potential

by Lia Tarachansky

Recent months saw a ruthless barrage of disturbing articles on internal political developments in Israel — articles that shine light on one ugly picture. Those painting the picture, including pundits, journalists, peace activists, and those of us who like to think of ourselves as anti-racist Israelis, are painting it to be one of a rising tide in racism and state repression. Some in Israel are saying these signs are but a warning, drawing parallels to 1935 Germany or the American south during the Jim Crow era. But as gloomy as the picture seems, new public opinion polls paint a different one. They paint a more hopeful picture, at least of Israel from within.

On Friday, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to oppose the rise of anti-democratic moves in Israel. They chanted “Yehudim ve Aravim Mesarvim Lihyot Oyvim,” a chant I heard often in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. It means “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” Some signs read “Orthodox Jews for Democracy,” an attempt to counteract some of the actions of Orthodox Jewish leaders in recent months. (more…)

Obama in Tucson

January 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

A Firsthand Account of “Healing and Understanding”

by Maggie McQuaid

I left Bisbee (in Southern Arizona) at 9:30am and made it to Tucson about 2 hours later where I met up with Susan, a coworker, and her partner Veira. We hopped a city bus and got to the University of Arizona campus around noon where we joined a rapidly growing throng outside the McKale Basketball Arena. Campus police, Secret Service, the Tucson Police Department, and the US Marshals were very much in evidence. Despite having a huge crowd on hand, they were all decent and courteous.

We were pretty much sequestered in an open area outside the arena, where we could leave if we wished, but could not come back. By 1:00 that afternoon, the announcement was made that the crowd was already at stadium capacity, and that anyone arriving on campus past that point would not be able to get in. We were closely packed in amongst thousands of others, with no room to sit down. I had expected porta-johns and food vendors, but there were none to be had. (more…)