Copyright © LeftCentral. All Rights Reserved

Copyright ©  LeftCentral. All Rights Reserved


The Fight by Norman Mailer book review.

LeftCentral Book review © all rights reserved.

Image © Susan

“Ali even motivates the dead”. (Don King)

On the 26 March 1974 in Venezuela, George Foreman defended his heavyweight title against Ken Norton. Muhammad Ali sat ringside with commentator Bob Sheridan; even as a non-combatant, Ali dominated the event. Ali greater than the sport itself, given the role he played in reviving boxing. Nevertheless, through years of exile, after his refusal to fight in South-East Asia, Ali received little thanks; the boxing establishment froze him out.  His own sense of justice always acute, as his response as a youth, living in Louisville, to the murder Emmett Till in Mississippi (1955) indicates.  A name change and subsequent religious conversion followed, built on an outlook shaped by Marcus Garvey, a philosophical interest emanating from his father, Cassius, Sr.  And it would be back in Africa, 40 years ago, that Ali would remedy a personal injustice with universal relevance.  Read more of this post

Gujarati Communities Across the Globe book review

LeftCentral Book Review

© Image dhyanlis photostream

Imagine if you will that you and your family have been designated non-citizens by your government and ordered to leave your homeland within ninety-day`s. Add to this, the fact that the announcement is made by a political leader noted for his volatility and cruelty. And during the ninety-day count-down you hear reports of atrocities against your neighbours, every knock on your door becomes a potential threat. This is a nightmare scenario, which nobody should face but the Asian community in Uganda in 1972 was confronted by this precise set of circumstances. This happened after a dream which compelled President Idi Amin to expel all the Asians from Uganda. A decree initially limited to “non citizens” extended to include all Asians, including non Gujaratis Goans, Muharhastrans, Sikhs and Punjabis. Read more of this post

Should We Celebrate a Decline in Global Poverty?

Adam Parsons – Originally published by Share The World’s Resources

The World Bank’s latest data suggests a decline in global poverty throughout every region of the developing world, as well as the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on halving poverty well ahead of schedule. But is this really the ‘good news’ that we are led to believe?

You may be forgiven for missing the good news recently reported by the World Bank: that the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined in almost every region of the developing world. According to the latest global poverty estimates, both the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day and the number of poor declined between 2005 and 2008, the first time that an across-the-board reduction has been reported since the World Bank began monitoring poverty. Not only that, but preliminary estimates indicate that the share of people living in extreme poverty declined between 2008 and 2010, even despite the global financial crises and surging food prices. By 2010, it appears that the $1.25 a day poverty rate fell to less than half the 1990 rate, which means that the United Nation’s first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for cutting extreme poverty in half has already been achieved, five years ahead of schedule. This is surely a cause for celebration – or is it?

To answer this question, we first have to understand why the World Bank’s poverty statistics are so important, which is not only for what they tell us about the number of poor people in the world. The World Bank is the monopoly provider of global poverty figures, and it is no secret that they are often used to support the view that liberalisation and globalisation have helped to reduce poverty worldwide. In other words, a reduction in global poverty can usefully defend the Bank’s neoliberal policies that favour economic growth and free markets as the overruling means to combating poverty. Since around 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals were first conceived, the World Bank has consistently painted an upbeat picture of the global poverty situation. This is not a conspiracy, as some people might suggest, but simply an ideological justification for the current arrangements of the global economy and the status quo. So long as the MDGs remain in sight and global poverty is on a downward trend, then the Bank’s continued defence of neoliberal policies can be vindicated.

Read more of this post

Another Misadventure in Somalia

Andrew Noakes

Image © United Nations

After a spate of kidnappings carried out by Somali militants on Kenyan soil, Kenya has decided to try and fix the problem of Somalia the only way it knows how – by mounting an invasion. Of course, it is not the first country to attempt such a bold move. Kenya follows in the footsteps of Ethiopia, whose troops were forced to conduct an ignominious retreat from the country after they alienated almost the entire population of Mogadishu, and the United States, which has been too terrified to carry out any major military operations in sub-Saharan Africa ever since.

The Kenyan intervention is likely to end in failure. As the Ethiopians and Americans both eventually learned, there is no viable stand-alone military solution to the breakdown of governance, peace, and order in Somalia. The underlying political, economic, and social problems, such as the lack of food security, disunity and distrust among rival clans, corruption, and fear of central government (after the brutal and factional rule of the Somali dictator, Siad Barre), have to be solved if there is to be any serious improvement in the security situation. Read more of this post

Demanding an End to World Hunger

Mohammed Mesbahi

All the commentary from expert analysts about the crumbling financial system is almost useless to understand what is really happening in the world today. Countless articles are written about how to fix the economy and restore growth to the system, but they are only relevant to a system that was never sustainable and is now coming to an end. What we call the ‘system’ has become so complicated that it appears to have a life of its own, and not even the most sophisticated banker understands what is going on anymore. Few economists or politicians speak in terms that mean anything to the ordinary person who is struggling to find or keep a job, make ends meet and provide for their family. But at the same time, something profoundly new is happening throughout the world that requires a much simpler way of looking at things if we are to comprehend what it means.

The protests now taking place in almost every country are a magnificent sight, but we must look closely at what it means when we cry for justice. There are many stories now being reported about the accumulating wealth of the richest people in the midst of a worsening economic crisis, which of course leads to rightful anger against bankers and the unbridled greed that has been sanctified in modern-day society. But which is the greater sin: the banker’s bonus, or the fact that thousands of people are dying from hunger each day in a world of plenty? The global economy is sinking and so the people’s voice is rising, but why are there no demonstrations in our city squares when people are dying from hunger? Read more of this post

Ten international relationships the UK must develop

Mike Morgan-Giles

Image © Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Following the Prime Minister’s decision to veto the proposed EU Treaty last week, which has put the UK in the slow lane within a two speed Europe, it’s important the Government looks to develop our other international relationships. Here are ten they should move forward:

  1. BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China are vast growing markets that we must look to enhance our ties with. Each can be approached in a different way, with perhaps closer links to Brazil on sustainability, energy cooperation with Russia, major trade links with India and offering cash-rich China unbeatable investment opportunities.
  1. Scandinavia – They share some of the euro-scepticism often cited in the UK; Norway isn’t an EU member, whilst Sweden and Denmark stand outside the eurozone. Ties can be strengthened over issues such as fishing and energy policy – for instance by creating a shared super grid. A more ambitious move would be to create an informal Northern European group, including all of the Nordic countries. Read more of this post

No tax, no justice

(c) Images_of_Money

Adam Parsons is the editor of Share The World’s Resources

The issue of tax has never held such widespread public attention. Following the global financial crisis in 2008, tax issues that had been campaigned on at the margins for decades suddenly became the subject of high-level intergovernmental deliberations. Global tax regulation has turned into a priority in the G20 agenda, while global forms of tax are today the subject of major civil society campaigns.

At the same time, direct action groups such as UK and US-UNCUT are taking the call for tax justice onto the high street. And now the billionaire investor Warren Buffett has forced the issue of tax code loopholes into the political mainstream. But there is another side to the not-so-gritty subject of taxation that lends itself less readily to the popular imagination, even though it remains critical to poverty eradication in developing countries – the issue of domestic tax collection. Read more of this post

Opinion: Cameron’s Africa visit should focus on Zuma and Mugabe

(c) World Economic Forum

Georgia Lewis

For the last five-and-a-half years, I’ve lived the expat life. First as an Australian in the UAE and then, 15-odd years after most of my fellow countrymen do the working holiday in London, I am now living in the UK. In this time, I’ve been fortunate to meet people from all over the world and in my experiences, the expats who feel the strongest call to go home are South African.

Having visited South Africa, I can see why – it is a gloriously beautiful country, the weather is good, the beer is cheap and, if you’re lucky, you can have a wonderfully relaxed lifestyle.

The other thing that unites my South African friends is a deep love and respect for Nelson Mandela, who is celebrating his 93rd birthday this week. It is indeed a miracle of modern times that he is still alive and it is definitely a good thing that he is still a hero, a role model, a symbol of the ideals that motivated the end of apartheid. Read more of this post