Margaret O'Brien Steinfels
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.
By this author
You will laugh at me: I read the NYTimes everyday, at least as far as Paul Krugman on the op-ed page. I've noticed I am getting through faster and faster because either I have read a story on-line where it appeared several days before...or I am just not interested (into my Cyprus File).
Didn't Christopher Dawson--or someone, maybe Nietzsche?--trace the excellence and superiority of the West back to the Greeks? Now this: "The Greeks are not Western."
"The imperial giant driving a wedge through European unity and the tiny state drowning in debt are locked in a controversial canoodle. Call it an Orthodox big wet kiss, but modern ties between Greece and Russia are cementing ancient ones."
As the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" makes its way through the U.S. Congress, the trade agreement (with Pacific and Asian countries) is being amended to penalize BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions) efforts against the West Bank Settlements.
The amendments from House and Senate committees "require U.S. trade negotiators to 'discourage politically motivated actions' by foreign countries and international organizations that aim to 'penalize or otherwise limit' commercial relations with Israel or 'persons doing business in Israel or in territories controlled by Israel."
There have been vague rumors and news snippets that Starbucks has started to lock up its bathrooms. It's true!
Out and about in NYC in the last two weeks, I have taken advantage of Strbcks ubuquity to have my favorite, a Grande Capuccino caffinated and whole milk with lots of foam. While not personally in search of a bathroom, the five Starbucks I have been in had people, perhaps tourists, shocked to find the bathrooms "unavailable." I chalked that up to too many tourists.
Making my way into the depths of international news, I was surprised to read that Pakistan had said, "NO," to sending troops to back up the Saudi war againt the Houthis in Yemen. The Saudis have been bombing the Houthis trying to stop their advance into the south of Yemen. General opinion seems to be that bombing alone will not do it, hence the call for Pakistani troops since the Saudis appear not to have a serious ground force of the sort that would be required.
The Iranian Nuclear Agreement may be the most significant diplomatic event since the collapse of the USSR. Here is a run down on where things stand as forces line up, pro and con.
The Iran political establishment supports the nuclear agreement.
In Wednesday's post I asked: what next for U.S.-Israeli ties?
Among the comments, J.P. Farry posted this grim but perhaps realistic analysis: "The reaction of so many Israelis to Obama's response to Bibi's election eve statement reflects their long-standing expectation that US Presidents are supposed to cut Israeli prime ministers "a lot of slack" given the tumultuous character of Israeli politics.
Read the editors' sane, balanced and forthright editorial on Netanyahu's election and the fall-out. Then read the comments virtually charging CWL with anti-S. Talk about swarming! [NB: I am not an editor! Didn't write it!]
The Forward's J.J. Goldberg, an astute and sympathetic observer of Israel, has this assessment of Tuesday's election results. The Jewish Daily Forward.
While awaiting the outcome of Israel's election and the formation of a new government, the optimists (I would like to be one) need to think about the whole picture. Charles Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a man with strong views and deep knowledge gave a very long speech (said to have been given on March 10, 2014 by Jim Lobe at LobLog, and published on March 10, 2015. Lobe has now corrected the date: speech given March 10, 2015; PHEW!).